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
    Hellsvilla, 1 Feb 2008 @ 6:19pm

    hrmm... nope

    I think ebay gives people a false business license in resale. Some who thought ebay was revolutionary later realized it was mostly scams and nothing they could do about it. If your in the business of reselling via ebay, then you should need to be registered as a business, pay business licenses, and most importantly, pay business taxes. Theres a reason those laws that regulate companies exist, and there's no reason for a lack of continuity in those laws when the sale takes place online.

    Now a hobby auctioneer... that's totally different, and completely exemptable. And there are already laws in place to define that fine line. No need for me to try it.

    Anyways, the courts have largely ignored ebayers, and that is to the greater detriment of the public. It would be nice if SOMEONE started adding accountability back into online sales. I don't like ebay anyways, so I don't really care that it would kill them off.

    ebay is an enabler for bottom feeders. It is not a healthy thing.

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