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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

Someone is selling my free stuff on Ebay
Any advice appreciated

 8:14 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have a site that has free printables. Today I found out from one of my site members that she found my site by buying my stuff on Ebay(I don't have an Ebay account). She was a little upset to see that she paid for something that was available online absolutely free(you don't have to be a member to get it). The member said that my copyright info with site address were in tact on the printables she purchased from this Ebay seller.

My site says "Free for personal use only. These printables may not be sold." But, I'm thinking, how is it harming me that the Ebay member is selling them anyway? I have no intention of ever selling them as I'm just using the freebies as a way to lure people in the door and then try to get them as members. And this is working great for me.

I don't want others to think they can print and sell my stuff because I could see this getting out of control. And, I don't like the idea of someone making money from my work, but the money isn't coming from my pocket. In fact, the Ebay seller has sent me at least one member that I know of. My items are still up for sale on Ebay(with "borrowed" photos from my site) and by looking through the sellers feedback, I can see that many have been sold.

I'm not sure what to do about this. Any advice is appreciated.



 8:41 pm on Oct 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Write to Ebay and complain. If, as you say, you can prove that he's nicked the stuff off you, they should pull him. Why let the blighter get rich off your hard work? Sell the content yourself!


 12:27 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'll choose answer B. Great idea. I can get this Ebay member to stop, pull the older free printables from my site(of course let my current visitors and members know that they will be pulled so they can save a copy) then sell them on Ebay. This site of mine is similiar to a new free printable of the month club.

Okay, I'll check back to tell you how much money I make from this! It does make more sense than keeping the archives free and I'll get my point across to this Ebay member.


 1:04 am on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

P.S. I can't sell the content on my own site because that would be against my own rules. :(


 10:08 pm on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Sorry about triple posting, but today I could use some more advice before I proceed with my plan.

I decided not to report the Ebay member. Instead I am just going to post my ad on Ebay with the exact same picture highlighted that was "borrowed" from my site. I am going to make it clear that the printables available are my original designs and if possible(I still need to look into whether Ebay allows this) post a link to my site in the ad.

So when people search for this particular type of item people will see 2 identical items for sale(the member is using the same picture for the listing that I will be using). Then, I'll just wait for the fireworks to start. I have plenty of proof that they are my originals.

I've let my newsletter subscribers and members know that certain printables will be discontinued on the site and sold on Ebay. But, the printables that the other Ebay member is selling, I am going to keep those free. Even the one pictured in the photo(my photo!) we will both be using will be free on my site.

Any comments or advice before I proceed?

Longhaired Genius

 10:21 pm on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

Fireworks can blow up in your face. I would go the "complain to Ebay" route. They don't want trouble and if you can show that your material is being sold without authority they are likely to just terminate the seller without fuss.


 10:25 pm on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

There's no guarantee people will see your offering on Ebay because of the time aspect. Many folks use the closing auction tool before they even find what they are seeking.

I would still prefer the first advice you were given.


 11:56 pm on Oct 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

The Ebay member has been selling my printables since at least July 2005, steadily, every week. That's as far back as we could view the actual auction in feedback. When their current auction ends, a new one will start... I am quite sure of it. They are printables that can be sold over and over, the Ebay member is currently offering 15 available at a time(to 15 different buyers), and has sold some every single week since at least July.

Based on this, is the advice the same?


 1:26 am on Oct 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

The Ebay member has been selling my printables since at least July 2005, steadily, every week.

Don't be surprised if the content thief cries wolf, and reports YOU to eBay. Like many identity theft victims know first hand, often it is the victims that have the most difficult time when it comes to proving they are indeed the "original" individuals.

Imho, in stead of trying to deal with him in the court of public opinion, you may be better off bringing this to eBay's attention right away.

Unless the seller has been expressly authorized by you -the original artist -to sell your art on eBay, he is freeloading off your orginal art. Get eBay's legal department to put a stop to this asap. Once that has happened (i.e. a third party validation of the underlying facts), demand full disclosure of how much that person has made off so far selling your work. Considering this has been going on for many months, the amount could be significant. If so, consult with an attorney.


 1:52 am on Oct 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Contact that guy, explain the situation and let him know that you can get his stuff pulled and that you can sue him for profits. And then offer him to become your agent and sell this stuff on your behalf. He would be doing exactly what he is doing, but paying you royalties.

Of course, thieves are greedy by nature so he will probably decline and try to find a way around you. In that case, you can get his stuff pulled and find someone else to sell your stuff for a share of profits. That way, you would be making some money off your stuff without spending your time on it.


When looking for a partner to do your selling, use his feedback as proof that your stuff sells well on ebay (after explaining the situation). That will help you convince a possible future partner that you are worth dealing with. It will help you get an experienced partner instead of a hungy newbie.


 4:40 am on Oct 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

"it is the victims that have the most difficult time when it comes to proving they are indeed the "original" individuals."

This is not a problem that I foresee. I am the original owner. It's my hand writing on the printables, I have the final artwork pictured on the Ebay auction.... all they have is a picture of it. Everyone who knows my work can see it's mine. I have a certain style so they know it's me.

What's wrong with the court of public opinion?

Thanks for the advice!


 5:18 am on Oct 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Complaining to eBay sounds like the best course of action because letting it go on might send the signal that it's okay to do. Seems like telling ebay the member is selling pirated material, that the original copies of belong to you, and that those sales are being conducted without your authorization is the best course of action.


 9:34 pm on Oct 25, 2005 (gmt 0)

To protect your intellectual property rights, you normally have to defend them. If you let the guy go on selling your stuff, you could potentially lose control over the designs. That's a business opinion, not a legal one. :)


 10:01 pm on Oct 25, 2005 (gmt 0)



 12:47 am on Oct 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the advice, everybody. Instead of reporting this person to Ebay, I have just asked the Ebay member to stop. A type of cease and desist letter was sent out. So far, the Ebay member seems happy to oblige to my "request".

I did look up the info about the laws posted. I learned something new today, that can't be a bad thing.

Thanks again, all.


 4:44 pm on Oct 31, 2005 (gmt 0)


I think the 'thief' should consider himself lucky that you have been very layed back about this. If it were me, I would demand significant compensation.

A friend of mine has found several people selling his products on eBay over the past few years. He has always be very strict and told the theives that they WILL be sued unless they pay up what they've 'earned' from their sales, plus a few more pounds. It usually does the trick.


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