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
    Danny, 1 Feb 2008 @ 10:41pm

    No need to worry...

    As long as ebay does not operate like an actual auction house (mainly in the sense that instead of a time limit an auction house auction goes on until someone makes a bid that is not challenged for several seconds) there shouldn't be any worry. Ebay is my last resort for buying items (usually something that is no longer in active production) anyway.

    Say what you want about Hellsvilla but I think she/he has a point about regulating people that operate full on businesses on ebay. If I open a brick and mortar store I have regulations to follow so why not for an online store. I'm not saying that the regulations can be copied verbatim mind you.

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