The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

EBAY CORPORATE POLICY
copyright? what copyright?
There was an EBay auto fraud story with a local angle that broke yesterday. The story speaks for itself. There was one snippet of information, however, that I found pretty interesting:

EBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said Tuesday that after receiving the auction numbers from the newspaper, the company took action. It had failed to act on an earlier complaint by (Ralph Goddard, executive at Dimmit Chevrolet auto dealership) because they thought he was worried about copyright infringement, not fraud. (emphasis added by me)

Now, every company on this planet sets its own business operating priorities, and no doubt customer service and satisfaction is typically at or near the top of everyone's list. In that respect, EBay is pretty smart about covering itself and its customers over threat of fraud, and if it wants to remain a successful business, it should take action on stuff like this.

But notice that when someone came to them with what they assumed was a complaint over copyright infringement, the strong implication here is that they basically blew it off. Bring up any random seller's page on EBay, and you're very likely to see plenty of images, copy, etc. that's been swiped by an EBay seller and used on his/her selling page to help them sell merchandise. So I'm betting that EBay gets a pretty large number of such complaints from copyright holders every day. And it appears their policy is to put a low priority number on such matters. I'm guessing that standard procedure on this is to send out a form letter that explains how EBay is legally covered on this (and if this is the case, I'd like to see how it would stand up in court).

I guess in this sense, EBay is the archetypical Internet company--or, perhaps more properly, an Internet-cultured company. That is, it has no regard for other people's/companies' intellectual property. Which is pretty interesting, since it has no problem calling out the lawyers when its own copyrights are in question.