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Court orders eBay to vet goods

05 March 2007Written by ATG Reporter

A COURT injunction against eBay is forcing the online giant to vet all Harry Potter titles before they are posted on their Indian site.

J.K. Rowling, the multi-millionaire author of the Potter books, has run a long campaign to prevent unauthorised versions of her books being posted for sale on the site and has now successfully obtained the injunction as part of an ongoing action.

Under Indian copyright law, a company can be held responsible if they allow their premises to be used to infringe that copyright. In this case, eBay’s online selling platform is being interpreted as the premises, directly challenging their long and fiercely held claim that they cannot be held responsible for what their users sell nor can they monitor and vet everything put up for sale. It is understood to be the first time eBay have faced such an injunction.

The next hearing is scheduled for May 23, but in the meantime eBay have been ordered not only to remove any pirated copies of the Potter books from the site but to prevent any more being posted.

If they fail to obey the injunction they could be held in contempt of court. However, if they fulfil the terms of the order, they will have shown that it is possible to vet items before posting, opening the door to further such demands from companies such as Tiffany and Louis Vuitton, who are already conducting cases against eBay in the United States and France in a bid to prevent fakes being sold on the site.

Like J.K. Rowling, the other plaintiffs argue that because eBay benefit from charges resulting from sales of fakes online, they should be held responsible for what is sold on their site.

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ATG Reporter

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