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
    unknown afraid person, 4 Feb 2008 @ 10:35am

    Re: Nope again

    "support their right to rebel against the man using technicalities that go against the intention of the law. Have a blast at it."


    Just like we allow telcom, oil , pharmacorp and HMO's. They all do the same things ( legal loopholes , off shore financial holdings, avoiding patent expiry by using the same drugs to treat different ailments thus being granted a new patent on the same drug to keep a monopoly going etc)

    Almost all industries use the same tactics to keep profits up.


    Don't hate the player ( ebay ) hate the game ( making more money by any means available ) The whole system is skewed so that those with the most money and therefore the most power have the biggest say in what goes on in our lives. Ebay is not taking money out of the big business of high end auction houses. They are giving average people the ability to shill their still useful but unwanted goods. And yes there are people who make a living at it but hardly the kind of cash that the big guys make.( Christie's , Sotheby's etc ) This is just another attempt to make a mountain out of an anthill.

    Now if she was selling ten of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise a quarter then yes she should start paying taxes on that money but there is hardly a precedent for requiring a license to list an item whos auction is then carried out by a computer unless of course you can issue a license to the machine.

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