AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Sun Dec 25 2016 22:08:51

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

By: Ina Steiner

Sponsored Link

If someone posts illegal goods or services on a platform like eBay or Amazon, are those marketplaces responsible? And are the executives of those companies responsible to the point where they can be prosecuted over the actions their users take?

California Attorney General Kamala Harris (pictured) and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had executives from online classifieds site Backpage arrested in October over ads for escort services posted by users. Ads allegedly appeared on Backpage offering sex for money using coded language, according to the AG's press release announcing the arrests.

Techdirt called the charges against the executives bogus. "Not only was Backpage protected by CDA 230, but the actual investigation into Backpage undercut the case they were bringing, because it showed a willingness by Backpage to delete prostitution ads when brought to their attention by law enforcement, and to block those users from reposting."

The LA Times describes in more detail the allegations levied against the Backpage.com executives, and it explained why the judge threw out the first case: "Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael G. Bowman ruled that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects websites such as Backpage.com from lawsuits when they publish speech posted by other people. He said the law "struck a balance in favor of free speech" in keeping Internet service providers protected from liability."

The Techdirt article is an interesting read - it says the California AG is now going after Backpages for money laundering, calling the targeting of the classified site a "frightening abuse of power."

The article makes a passing reference to the fact Congress could change the law. If Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was eliminated or modified so that it no longer protected platforms and publishers from postings by users, the Internet would become a very different place. It would impact not only ecommerce and publishing, but sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as well.

Imagine if eBay CEO Devin Wenig and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos were liable for every item and service listed on their sites, not to mention executives such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg?




Comments (15) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: 27tcle This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 26 01:56:02 2016

Willfully failing to act to correct the problem posts is the sole liability currently, and should remain that way.  

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 26 05:54:15 2016

Isn't this like blaming the neighbor down the street for the miserable snotty nosed brat you have raised.

Sound familiar.

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 26 07:16:13 2016



YES 100% YES, if they continue to allow illegal activities on the platform, they are 100% responsible, because ebay, amazon profit from it, and control it.

just like the old file sharing site Megaupload and it's owner Kim Dot Com,  absolutely the same,, the only difference is the government is terrified to go after the big ones, because they are super rich, and have the ability to fight back,  

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Dec 26 11:01:56 2016

Kamala needs to have Jerry Brown arrested for letting criminals out of prison!

He should be held accountable for their actions/crimes after they get out of prison!

Same thinking. . .

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Dec 26 14:04:49 2016

OK you can't have it both ways.  Complaining that Ebay doesn't do anything or much of anything about counterfeits and then on this thread not hold them responsible.

There is a recent letter to the site covering sellers reporting others for counterfeit items and Ebay not doing their job to get them off the site.

http://www.ecommercebytes.com/C/letters/blog.pl?/comments
/2016/12/1482547629.html#comments

Posters
on this blog are agreeing that Ebay doesn't take our reports seriously and rarely remove these obvious counterfeit listings.

So to come here and then say that  sites should not have any responsibility for counterfeits on their site is confusing to say the least.  

While I don't think the individuals of any one company should be held responsible personally, the company should be if it is a known problem they just choose to ignore.  

 

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: elcheapoposters This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Dec 27 00:30:19 2016

CDA 230 / Safe Harbor is a SAVIOR..

If the venue is responsible for the user's content, then say goodbye to the Internet as it exists today.

For example, let's say SONY sends a DMCA takedown for a pirated movie. Some would say Ebay should be liable. Well, that $150k per each max statutory infringement without safe harbor.

Let's now live in a world where the venue is liable for copyright from users. Now, you the user, will have to post a bond, or have insurance, to cover ALL of ebay's legal fees and penalties if, and when, they lose against, say, Sony.

Now... what this means is you no longer have a place to sell your pots and pans and ecigs and baseball cards and... get the point?

Some lawyers try to circumvent safe harbor using all sorts of fear tactics. Some succeed in getting settlements.

Safe Harbor was included in the law by smart people seeing a problem and nipping it in the bud.

In the Backpage case, as long as the site owner follows the procedures as a registered DMCA agent, no harm no foul.

Now... here's something else you'all sellers should be aware of that's coming down the pipe - the concept of downstream retailers being liable for foreign copyright infringement.

It goes like this:

You drop ship something from a foreign company that looks and smells like something made here in the U.S.A. and has a registered copyright. You had no idea the product was possibly infringing - it's just something in that data feed, or xml, or cvs file you get your products from.

Well, it seems since it's hard to go after the foreign interest, lawyers in the U.S. are now going after so called 'downstream resellers' in an attempt to knock out foreign infringers.

This has already happened to Macy's and legal actions in this arena are on the upswing.

search for this on google:
ROMAG FASTENERS, INC., Plaintiff , v. FOSSIL, INC.

So, the moral is - if you're drop shipping product thinking you're safe... you might not be and CDA 230 / Safe Harbor may save YOU. :)

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: elcheapoposters This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Dec 27 00:33:04 2016

and in reply to people here saying ebay isn't taking down listings reported by other sellers.

In short - they're not required to. Ebay needs a formal DMCA takedown or other legal notice to do so.

Sure, they can act on their own beliefs, but they don't have to act on another seller's say so.

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Dec 27 01:39:42 2016

Some sellers it is perfectly obvious that they aren't selling according to the rules and should be taken down immediately. Those sellers that come as newbies to Amazon with thousands of listings that are up and loaded in the space of five minutes should be taken right back down. Now newbie has the ability to do that without a script from someone/group that has been doing this over and over.

All the venues need to listen to their sellers when they bring to their attention sellers that aren't going by That would clear up a lot of the problems since these folks think nothing of cheating, lying and not following the venues rules to start with.  

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: Ladmo This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Tue Dec 27 09:46:10 2016

Thanks to elcheapoposters. We agree. It is up to each of us to be responsible and do what's right for our businesses - to the best of our ability. And that includes - what we sell. It's called due diligence. Earlier this year we had an opportunity to resell ''LED lighted'' casual shoes for kids online - but passed because we believed the products infringed on someone else's copyright...which proved to be true. We declined the opportunity. The authorities are responsible to police and prosecute the fraudulent. But it is up to each of us to maintain ethical selling standards. Between us we can promote a better, safer and more honest selling environment - where character counts.  

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Dec 27 13:19:54 2016

I don't think anyone was saying that Ebay specifically needs to take down all the listings that sellers report.  That would easily become a very abused power by some sellers.  

But what I expect and I think others do as well is for Ebay to investigate the listing or seller if necessary.  Besides it is what they promised to do in regards to reporting listings.  All appearances tell us they aren't doing that.

Further, I think that venues should be held accountable if they have clear knowledge and proof that a listing is a counterfeit and they do nothing about it.  I don't think they are responsible if it hasn't come to their attention yet.  But when there is clear concise evidence it is a fake and they do nothing about it, IMHO they are participating in the fraudulent activity.

And on the flip side of that I've had, as I'm sure others have, listings removed for one reason or another because of a Vero violation.  When the facts were and are that I did not violate anything.  

Vero function on Ebay as a bully does.  If Vero says it is a listing that has breached their rules, Ebay allows the listing to be shut down.  In the past I've proved that the reasons given were not true, but it didn't matter.  Vero said I have violated and therefore it is a violation period.

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: 27tcle This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 27 21:51:48 2016

About to put it to the test, just bought a bunch of vouchers that turned out to be fake. We'll see what they do.

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Dec 27 23:39:34 2016

@27tcle

If it was on Ebay, you will be fine.  Just contact your seller request a return.  Your problem is an easy one if you purchased on Amazon or Ebay.

What we've been discussing here isn't for items that have already been purchased, but for those that remain listed even when Ebay and/or Amazon has been notified they are fake.  Should they be held responsible as the venue?

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Wed Dec 28 09:46:15 2016



FYI, once you sign a Vero takedown, ebay is completely legally removed from everything,

When you sign a Vero takedown order and send it to ebay, your taking 100% legal responsibility for your actions,

No amount of explaining to ebay will change anything, after you sign the Vero takedown, ebay cannot legally reverse the decision anymore, even if the Vero order is wrong, ebay doesn't check anything, they Must act solely on the info of the signed Vero document filed by the person or business  

And yes, in the wrong hands and on many occasions, these Vero users can be abusive, and wrong, and in extreme cases, of wrong doing the only re-coarse is to sue the person or business, legally no other way to do it.

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 6 11:12:34 2017

I would like ebay and amazon ceo arrested immediately for not only allowing but encouraging counterfeit items sold on their sites.

Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?   Are Platforms Responsible for User Behavior?

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Sat Jan 7 15:35:04 2017

nice thought mcposty. add previous CEO too.



Login is required to post comments.
To sign in to leave a comment using your AB Verify User Name, fill in the form below. If you have not yet signed up for AB Verify, or if you'd like more information, go to the Registration Page
.

Login for AB Verify
Be sure and use your email address and password to log in.

 
Email:
Password:
 
 Forgot Your Password?
 Even though you are signed in with the AuctionBytes Blog, you will have to sign in to the EcommerceBytes blog. But you can sign in with your existing AB Verify info.