eBay plagerists. Can I do anything?

Lately, I’ve been selling items on eBay and have had some success at it. In short, I take a number of different, but related items and make a package of it. Of course, every now and again I check the competition to make sure my prices are “in line.”

Anyway, today I check and find that someone new is selling the same package that I am. But that’s OK, I don’t mind some competition. However, I also noticed that not only did he swipe my package description word for word, he even swiped my picture.

Now, it’s true I didn’t copyright any of this, but do I have any recourse. I sent the guy a friendly letter stating that I worked long and hard on my product description and would appreciate it if he didn’t copy it. I haven’t heard back from him yet (if I will). If he doesn’t stop, can I do anything about it?

Zev Steinhardt

You could offer him a generous discount on a different item.

When you say he swiped your picture, did he copy the file somewhere or is he linking to your image on your server?

If the latter, may I suggest changing the image with that filename to something offensive?

At the very least you should report him to the e-bay police.



Neither. I uploaded the pic to eBay. He probably (if he used IE) right clicked on the pic, did Save Picture and then uploaded it himself.

Zev Steinhardt

IANAL but…
Your original words and pictures are copyrighted the moment you created them. He is violation of copyrigt laws and you may take steps to make him/her stop. You are entitled to some reimbursement, although not much since you don’t have a formal copyright. A court injunction would be a good atart. Contact the person and Ebay to get the person’s real address info. Good luck.

Actually, I would contact E-bay directly, not to get his info, but to get his auction shut down. It can clearly be established that your auction predated his, therefore the text/picture can be reasonably assumed to be your work, and his auction is then in violations of the TOS. (IANAL or even IANAES (Ebay Seller :slight_smile: ) )


The auction is already finished, so shutting him down won’t do much.

I’m not looking to put the guy out of business, I just want him to stop using my description. I hope the letter I sent him works (I figured you can always catch more flies with honey…). I will be watching his auctions in the future, however…

Zev Steinhardt

You may not want to put him out of business, but generally the only power that E-bay (and, by extension, you) has to control this person’s actions is to suspend or terminate the auction in question until the dispute is resolved.


Read something in someones feedback reading something like-
Negitive - This *astard copied my ebay page exactly
reply - Sorry I didn’t know it was a bad thing to do

I think the seller set up a dummy account, bid to win just to leave feedback.

I would contact ebay.

I guess that’s what I’ll have to do if I see another auction of his with my description and picture again…

Thanks to everyone. If anyone else has any more suggestions, I’ll be listening.

k2dave, even though what he did was underhanded, I’m not going to stick him with the fees for an auction over this. And I’m fairly certain that doing what you suggested is grounds to get kicked off eBay myself (which I don’t want to do).

Zev Steinhardt

People have been doing this to me for several months now. I come up with witty, concise, biting descriptions, only to see them cut-and-pasted into the competition. The only way I have tried to fight back is to try and stay ahead and keep coming up with something more original. Think up new ways to use your product, a funny or joke use for it, and try to keep the picture different somehow. Also, quality customer service leads to more postive feedback leads to more bids. And, as Chico Marx said, “That runs into money”.

Note that it is very easy to watermark the picture so it cannot be used by others.

Zev-although I cannot hold a candle to you on just about anything you’ve ever posted, I do feel compelled to report a possible spelling error: should be plagiarizers or possibly plagiarists or plagiarizts or maybe even plagiariszts, but probably not plagerists. FWIW

As sailor said, watermark your image. Then, if it is copied your name goes with it for all to see.

Maybe in the future you could give the auction nbr so we can see what’s happening.

This is pretty common but you have to contact Safe Harbor at ebay when it happens, not afterwards.

I’m currently going through the same problem with an auction of mine. I complained to ebay, but (surprise!) they didn’t do anything. So I sent a polite email to the seller telling her that it was against ebay regs and US copyright law. She replied (non-confrontationally, to her credit) asking what the regs were and I sent her this link:


which spells out the rules pretty nicely. I suggest you do something similar next time…

I have done the above on a couple of occasions with more than satisfactory results. One was even used in a featured auction. Let me just say the picture of the doggie doo from my back yard drew lots of attention, the seller was passing off dollar store vases as old Chinese vases. And I quote the exact email I received from someone at Ebay investigating the sellers complaint.

I wish I could tell you how to do this. I’m sure someone on the SDMB can tell you, though:
A couple of months ago I read about a guy having the same problem. He “boobytrapped” his pics so that when another seller tried to use them a different (use your imagination) pic and text saying something like, “I’m a loser who steals other people’s bandwidth. Don’t buy from me.” was shown. It was too funny!