|Mon Oct 8 2012 09:46:50|
Your Right to Sell on eBay Is in Jeopardy
By: Ina Steiner
A looming case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court has eBay worried, and online sellers are incredulous upon hearing the ramifications if the High Court does not overturn the lower court rulings. "If the court rules against this seller and it also applies to domestic sales, this will be the death-blow for small sellers like me!" one reader wrote. The case impacts the "first-sale doctrine," which permits buyers who purchase copyrighted works in a legitimate transaction to resell them without obtaining permission.
In Wiley v Kirtsaeng, a New York court rejected eBay seller Kirtsaeng's first-doctrine defense, ruling that it did not apply to goods produced overseas and imported to the United States, a decision upheld by the Second Circuit Court.
eBay has been closely following the case. It joined with NetCoalition and several other tech associations in asking the Supreme Court to hear the case. "eBay's online platform permits secondary marketplace trade in a wide range of goods. Accordingly, eBay has an interest in ensuring the alienability of authentic goods in the secondary market," eBay wrote in an amicus brief.
In April, eBay hailed the court's decision to hear the case. eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff said, "In reviewing the case of Wiley v. Kirtsaeng, the Supreme Court now has an opportunity to protect the right of small businesses and individuals to sell legitimate goods across borders, which will benefit consumers, businesses and the overall Internet-enabled economy."
The case is so important to the online marketplace, it posted a message on the eBay Announcement Board asking sellers to join its eBay Main Street initiative, "a grassroots organization of eBay members taking action to promote smart government policy and protect the rights and interests of ecommerce sellers like you."
"The outcome of this case could have significant implications for your rights as a seller," eBay wrote.
EcommerceBytes will be attending the Supreme Court oral arguments at the end of October - but it could be months before a decision is handed down.