Pennsylvania Sues Woman For Selling Goods On eBay Without A License

from the if-we-don't-understand-it,-it's-probably-illegal dept

A few years back we wrote about states that were passing inexplicable laws requiring anyone selling goods on eBay for others to get an auctioneer's license, something that can be quite costly and sometimes requires a long-term apprenticeship. It appears just such a law is being used in Pennsylvania to go after a very successful eBay seller (via the Agitator). The story in that case is even more ridiculous, since the woman in question only began selling goods on eBay in order to be able to stay at home with her young daughter who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Even though the woman stopped (and got a job outside the home) as soon as the state notified her that she was illegally selling goods, the state is still moving forward prosecuting her. While the state told the reporter that the maximum fine the woman faced is only $2,000, her lawyer read the charges in a way that suggested she could be on the hook for up to $10 million. The whole thing seems pretty pointless. Selling on eBay is quite different from running an auction house. If anything, laws like these seem designed to limit competition in an effort to protect an incumbent industry. As another eBay seller facing similar charges notes in the article: "It's like the buggy-whip manufacturer's deciding whether these newfangled automobile manufacturers can do it without a buggy-whip license."

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  1. identicon
    Thomas Crescenzi, 4 Feb 2008 @ 3:45am

    Ridiculous overtaxation and regulation

    ...And people wonder why Ron Paul gets so much popular support... We as citizens and as voters need to send a clear message that the government needs to find better ways to raise revenue for services. The mistake that the Ron Pauls of the world make is that they want to take away the taxation and regulation and the services. You don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. What needs to happen is the government needs to come up with a straight tax code with no loopholes or paperwork and replace the income tax with a VAT. That would do wonders right there. And one more thing, let the government take a cut of patent royalties. If people want to be profit barons on their patents and stifle competition, at least let them contribute to the welfare of the nation.

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