How to List on EBay Without Getting a Copyright Warning

Olympic Torches Are Auctioned Off On Internet Auction Sites
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An important consideration before listing an item on eBay is copyright. While most copyright holders allow you to resell their work without any interference, instances may arise where the artist or manufacturer will object to your listing. Rights-holders have the option to ask eBay to remove your listing according to the auction site's policies. Repeated violations of these policies could result in termination of your eBay account.


Understanding copyright and what it is will help you avoid infringement. Copyright protects the owners of content from having their work duplicated without permission. According to eBay, the types of work that are eligible for copyright protection include books, paintings, photos, music, videos and software. The copyright lasts for at least 70 years, and takes effect as soon as the work is made into "tangible form," meaning it is published in some way.

How it Works

You are generally permitted to resell copyrighted items that you own in the form you received it. What you are not allowed to do is make copies of the item for resale -- although, in most cases, copying for personal use is protected. EBay prohibits the sale of copied content, and copyright owners reserve the right to request that your item be removed, if they consider it to be a violation of their copyright.

Listing Guidelines

EBay has guidelines to help its users avoid copyright issues. First, the auction site urges sellers to take their own pictures and write their own descriptions. Unless that promotional content is in the public domain and the manufacturer allows reuse, "borrowing" these items from the manufacturer's website is prohibited without permission. Ensure that all information in your listing and photos represent the product in an accurate manner. If using a brand name in the description, only use it in a positive light.

Things to Avoid

EBay specifically prohibits the sale of replicas, fakes or counterfeit items, so make sure copyrighted work listed for sale on the site is genuine. If you have questions as to whether or not an item can be sold on eBay, contact the rights-owner or manufacturer first. Never represent yourself as an authorized dealer for a company if you do not have such a business relationship with that manufacturer.

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