Digital Content and the Internet – Beware eBay sellers and other auction site sellers!
Introduction – legal issues with knowingly selling pirated software online!
Selling software on the internet is not without its risks. There are companies that monitor these sales and are looking for infringing software, books, magazines, comics, selling academic versions of software and newsletters being sold illegally. Sometimes the sales are honest, but the seller does not realize the copyright implications of the sale. For example, here is a link to an article about some defendants who were sued by SIIA for selling unauthorized copies of Symantec and Adobe software online. Selling McAfee software can also lead to legal problems.
The SIIA auction litigation program
The SIIA consists of over 800 software and information companies. One of their purposes is to seek to enforce IP rights on the internet. One way they do this is through their “auction litigation program.” According to the SIIA website:
“In the most egregious piracy cases SIIA will pursues civil litigation against the responsible individuals and organizations. For example, through its Auction Litigation Program, SIIA identifies the most egregious sellers of pirated software and content on auction sites (, Amazon, Listia, ShopGoodwill, uBid, eBid, Bonanza, iOffer, etc.) and then sues them in federal court demanding that they cease their infringing activities and pay a steep monetary penalty.”
Suits have been filed in both the Central District of California and the Northern District Court of CA.
Common targets of eBay software piracy lawsuits
eBay sellers and buyers need to be aware. We have handled cases on both sides of the fence. Buying and selling pirated software, bootleg copies, OEM, unbundled products and counterfeit goods is not something that major copyright holders will not likely tolerate. They will be out to seek injunctions, and to seek profits from the infringing company. Here are a few examples of some products that may lead to legal trouble with the major software publishers.
- Adobe Photoshop,
- Acrobat 9,
- Photoshop CS4
- Lightroom 2
- Adobe CS4 Design Premium
- Adobe CS3 suite
- Symantec PC anywhere
- Norton Antivirus
- Apple products
- Books, Magazines, Newsletters
As noted on their website, the SIIA will also work with law enforcement to seek to combat infringing activity. For example, their site says:
“SIIA has ongoing partnerships with several federal and state agencies in joint efforts to combat software and content piracy. SIIA works closely with agencies such as the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Postal Service and other federal and state agencies to protect SIIA member companies' copyrighted software and content.”
Here is one article that talks about an eBay seller being sentenced to prison for 48 months.
SIIA reporting piracy program
Here is a link to the SIIA anti-piracy reporting page (which offers rewards of up to one million dollars). If you have a claim to report and need legal protection, let us know, we can help make sure your claim is properly documented and enforced. Some people have asked me if the reporting program is private and confidential. Here is what their information sheet states:
“SIIA will keep the identity of the source anonymous unless the source's identity is requested by a law enforcement authority or court subpoena and SIIA is required by law to disclose the identity or the source expressly authorizes SIIA to disclose his or her identity.”
It should also be noted, that unless their policy has changed, they will not pay an informant if they have to go to Court to recover against the alleged infringer. As noted on their page:
“If either SIIA, an SIIA member company or the target company initiates a civil copyright infringement suit relating to the facts reported by the source in this case, no reward is payable to the source. In such case and to the extent allowable by federal, state or local law or regulations, and by applicable canons of professional responsibility or similar guidelines, SIIA may in its discretion reimburse the source for his or her time and reasonable expenses for submitting the report, responding to SIIA's follow-up questions and attending or testifying. Any reimbursement paid will not be dependent upon nor any way connected to the outcome of the case or the content of the source's testimony, if any.”
Contact us to discuss your case
If you need help with a eBay buyer or seller case where copyright infringement is at issue including if you are a copyright holder needing legal help to enforce your rights, call us. We have experience representing companies that need experienced and competent intellectual property counsel. We can be reached at (877) 276-5084. Initial consultations are provided at no cost and many cases can be taken either on a partial or full contingency fee basis, or flat rate legal fees in other cases. Call us to discuss strategy and possible fee structures.