Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Intellectual Property Theft on eBay

Unfortunately, there are people on eBay who think that stealing photos and text from other sellers to use in their own auctions is an acceptable practice. Such a practice is pure & simple, theft and plagiarism - the stealing of someone else's work. Usually, stealing of text and pictures from other sellers is done to con unsuspecting buyers out of their money, as usually, the seller doing the stealing does not posses the item that is up for sale. By the time the buyer is aware that the thieving seller does not have the item being auctioned, it's too late - the con-artist seller has made off w/the victim's money.

eBay is aware of this problem and has set up a reporting system to try and combat this type of stealing. However, is still happens today.

I have been a victim of this several times, the most recent was on Sept. 5th, 2009 by eBay user k-zoogirl (who has now, as of Sept. 7th, changed her user name to bitter-cranberry). This thief, whether she was just too lazy to do her own work, or she was trying to scam buyers on eBay out of their money, stole both my pictures and my text from this auction, eBay #360187440907 and portrayed them as her own in this auction, eBay #230374541475. Thankfully, eBay responded swiftly to my reports of the theft by k-zoogirl/bitter-cranberry by promptly shutting down the auction and removing the images from the system.

Below are screen shots of the fraudulent auction by k-zoogirl/bitter-cranberry in which she stole my images and text - click on the thumbnails for a larger version.

shows top of eBay page and seller ID

clear shot of my watermarked images

clear shot of my stolen copy - taken word for word from my auction

Below is a screen shot of her "My World" page before she changed her user ID. She also removed her profile image - why is she hiding? Is she ashamed that she stole from another eBay seller? Is she hiding the fact that she's a con artist and trying to run fraudulent auctions on eBay? I will let you draw your own conclusions as to the new user ID she chose. Her ID information, history, and image are all below.

My World Page before user changed her ID

User ID history page

If the property theft didn't tell you enough about this person's lack of character, honor, and integrity, the hiding behind a new user ID and the removal of her profile image should. I would be highly cautious if you purchase from her.

Sellers - How to Protect Yourselves from Such Thieves

  • watermark your images - I can't stress how important this is (although k-zoogirl/bitter-cranberry was too stupid not to use watermarked images)
  • run searches on items that you currently have listed - do listings by other sellers look the same?
  • use specific wording in your text - when other sellers steal your copy, it's easier to pick out

Buyers - How to Protect Yourselves from Such Con-Artist Sellers

  • be aware of what your buying - do your own research
  • run a search on the item that you're interested in buying - do you find more than one listing that has the same pictures and wording
  • if you find an item that has the same pictures and text, but is being sold by 2 different sellers, contact those sellers and ask question
  • if you see an image in an auction that is watermarked, and that watermark does not match the user ID of the seller, there's a good chance that image was stolen - be careful if you decide to purchase
eBay has worked hard to reduce this type of theft - unfortunately, con-artists are con-artists, and this battle is very difficult to fight.