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Role Playing (Games) Businesses The Almighty Buck

eBay Delisting All Auctions for Virtual Property 324

Posted by Zonk
from the definition-of-what-is-real dept.
The growing popularity of Massively Multiplayer games has brought the issue of ownership rights in virtual worlds, and the appropriateness of what is called 'real money transfer' (RMT) into an increasingly public light. The success of the company IGE, as well as the launch of Sony Online Entertainment's 'Station Exchange' service would seem to indicate that RMT is now an acceptable part of Massive gaming. The well-known auction site eBay has recently made a policy decision that may throw these assumptions into a different light. Following up on a rumour that's been going around I spoke today with a media representative for the company, who confirmed that eBay is now delisting all auctions for 'virtual artifacts' from the site. This includes currency, items, and accounts/characters; not even the 'neopoints' used in the popular Neopets service is exempt from this decision. Read on below for the company's rationale for this decision, and a few words on the impact this could have on future RMT sales.
Mr. Hani Durzy, speaking for eBay, explained that the decision to pull these items was due to the 'legal complexities' surrounding virtual property. "For the overall health of the marketplace" the company felt that the proper course of action, after considerable contemplation, was to ban the sale of these items outright. While he couldn't give me a specific date when the delistings began, he estimated that they've been coming down for about a month or so. Mr. Durzy pointed out that in reality, the company is just now following through with a pre-existing policy, as opposed to creating a new one. The policy on digitally delivered goods states: "The seller must be the owner of the underlying intellectual property, or authorized to distribute it by the intellectual property owner." Given the nebulous nature of ownership in online games, eBay has decided the prudent decision is to remove the possibility for players to sell what might be the IP of other parties via their service. Mr. Durzy made it a point to say that initial listings of virtual property would not have punitive actions. Their assumption, he said, is that most users break with policies because they're unaware of them, rather than maliciously. Initial infractions will result in a delisting of items, and an attempt to educate the user on the policy. Persistent disregard for the policies, of course, will result in a removal of the seller's account.

We've spoken before on the possibility of taxation of virtual goods in the U.S. and abroad, as well as the economic impact these sales can have. With the removal of a very popular, very public source of virtual currency and goods from the market, what does this mean for the future of RMT? Will small businessmen who previously worked via eBay now turn to larger independent sites like IGE? Given that eBay is ipso facto declaring virtual goods to be the property of the game makers and not the players who 'earn' them, what does this mean for the future of virtual rights in general?
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eBay Delisting All Auctions for Virtual Property

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  • Just Sell the Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:43PM (#17775120) Journal
    So, I'm aware that things like this have been implemented in the past. But the easy way to get around them is to not offer the item, gold or online property but instead offer to the bidders your personal time and service to acquire the items.

    Examples:
    • "level 60 epic gear warrior for sale" => "leveling services to get you a epic gear warrior"
    • "5000 gold on Thunderlord" => "the five days of playing time it takes me to get you 5000 gold"
    • "1337 item" => "time it took me to farm this item and give it to you"
    I mean, are they safe guarding against this also? Because, in the end, what's wrong with selling people your time or services to them? Once they complete the service, you pay them. I don't know how they could find some way around this or tell which auctions for services need to be revoked.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
      It's just eBay being stupid. IGE and all the other sites that cater specifically to gold/equipment/character farmers are just going to get more business because eBay is "worried about the legal complexities" of selling virtual property.

      Honestly, I'd thought better of them than this...eBay sells so many things of purely subjective value, you'd think that some policy maker on the inside would have cottoned to the fact that value is a fairy tale, and that their business is to make money off people's experiment
      • by ivan256 (17499) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:42PM (#17776252)
        It's just eBay being stupid. IGE and all the other sites that cater specifically to gold/equipment/character farmers are just going to get more business because eBay is "worried about the legal complexities" of selling virtual property.

        It's not eBay being stupid, but it's not what they're saying it is either. If eBay thought they could make money providing this service, they would. The real reason is that the associated costs and risks exceed the profit available from these transactions. I'm sure that internally they have statistics that show the rates of disputed transactions, and the administrative costs of dealing with them along with the cost of liability insurance for the potential litigation associated with these transactions. They compared those numbers with the projected revenue and one side won.

        This isn't a philosophical issue, or eBay trying to prevent anything. Companies don't work that way (usually). This is almost certainly purely economic.
        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by bunions (970377)
          Why are comments pointing out the fact that corporations are entirely motivated by economics always moderated as insightful?

          I mean no disrespect to ivan here, but the idea that decisions a large company makes are typically based on risk analysis, balancing potential profit and risk, is not exactly something that anyone should view as insightful.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Xaositecte (897197)
            Informative or Insightful as per mods discretion.

            Parent took the GP's misconception of how and why economic decisions are made (that is, the idea that what the rep says has anything to do with why the decision was made) - and explained what was likely the real reason this decision was made.
          • by aldheorte (162967) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:24PM (#17779268)
            "but the idea that decisions a large company makes are typically based on risk analysis, balancing potential profit and risk, is not exactly something that anyone should view as insightful."

            The truly ironic thing here is that you are dismissing the original poster for making a comment that you view as so obvious it shouldn't be marked insightful, yet the original comment isn't even valid. That is how a large company works in the theoretical, academic model. In reality, any sufficiently large corporation is governed by petty egos and politics and therefore any particular decision may or may not make any economic sense. Like police, economics is a corrective force, not a preventative one, once group dynamics are considered.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by x_MeRLiN_x (935994) *
          Being an ex-Neopets player, that is nothing new. eBay doesn't permit anything that copyright holders can rightfully object to and has routinely removed auctions selling Neopoints for years.

          eBay policy: http://pages.ebay.co.uk/vero/ [ebay.co.uk]
          Neopets ToS: http://neopets.com/terms.phtml [neopets.com]

          #5
          * requests for money by using your Neopets, Neopoints or any other Neopets property on third party sites or your personal websites (including Ebay)

          In my opinion, all this really means is that more will be sold on less well-known sites with an arguably higher proliferation of fraud.

        • eBay is a big, profit-focused company. They don't walk away from money unless there is a reason. Either they've decided it will become a problem in the future, or more likely, it's a problem for them now. That could be the cost and ill-will of complaints for selling virtual items is now making it cost more than they're making out of it. What do you think?
      • by beakerMeep (716990) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:48PM (#17776338)
        Wait what? Why is it stupid to drive away business that opens you up to potentially being sued by game makers for facilitating the sale of someone else's intellectual property? are you claiming it's stupid to get out of bad business practices because "other people will just pick where we leave off"? Also how is ebay "messing with supply and demand"? it's not like they are deleting items from WoW's database. or charging extra fees based on demand for vitual goods. they are just getting out of the business of facilitating transactions for these items.

        The only way to prevent the sale of in-game artifacts is to make them non-transferable, and that's never going to happen.

        some games actually do this for a substatial number of items. While they couldn't do it for all items it has an added benefit of requiring people to grind for items themselves.

        I'm no fan of ebay, but your argument makes no sense.

      • by xeromist (443780) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:57PM (#17776502)
        Ebay isn't saying you can't sell things of subjective value. Where they have a problem is that they aren't sure who the item belongs to. Sure there are issues of hacked accounts having stuff sold off. However the real issue is that they're not sure whether you or Blizzard owns that epic gear.

        You paid for the game time and put the effort in to earn that copy of an item, so maybe it is yours. Artists at Blizzard created the item and it, just like everything else in that virtual world, is the intellectual property of Blizzard. Maybe the item belongs to them then.

        There is also the issue that many MMO games have explict prohibitions against selling items. All it would take would be one publisher deciding Ebay was promoting violations and deciding to sue. Would they win? Doesn't matter because Ebay doesn't need the headache. They figure the listing fees wouldn't weigh against the cost of a court battle.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        We mess with supply and demand when the evolving market is heading in a direction we'd rather not go. In those cases, we correct by messing with the payoff matrix by imposing restrictions or incentives. It's a nice way to ensure that we don't get wiped out by blast when some equation blows up.

        Look at organ transfers: There is certainly demand for organs. A free market system might be a very efficient way of meeting the demand for organs, but it would put us in uncertain moral territory. In the absenc
      • Just like firearms - now you go to www.gunbroker.com for your firearm auctions instead.

        STeve
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Moron's who try to fight Supply and Demand by messing with supply get no pity from me. Where there is enough demand, and supply is not flat impossible, there will be supply. The only way to prevent the sale of in-game artifacts is to make them non-transferable, and that's never going to happen.

        Next you'll be telling me that banning alcohol would create a whole generation of moonshiners! And that people will buy drugs even though they're illegal!

        Pfft. Such nonsense.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Although burglars are on the supply side of the supply and demand system, it's probably still a good idea to go after them.

        I'd like to see both sides tackled in MMO gold selling. The only way to stop it is to make life difficult for the sellers and risky for the buyers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Znork (31774)
      Of course, one can question the wisdom in allowing real-world money to be exchanged for what is essentially a particularly tedious and inefficient database update.

      In fact, should this type of exchange become prevalent in the economy I'd suggest anti-monopoly regulators come down on the MMORPG businesses like a ton of bricks and force them to allow many companies access to the database tables to update them so we can get a real free market evaluation of the 'goods' in question (ie, approaching zero).

      You see,
      • by maxume (22995) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:18PM (#17775796)
        That's like saying people shouldn't be allowed to practice with their shitty bands or write shitty novels.

        The good news is that the damn fool who is farming is lowering the amount of time the damn fool spending money on virtual goods is spending on the game, freeing up the spender to do other actual work in the economy.

        Entertainment is an economic sink, it disappears productivity into the (supposed) well being of the person being entertained. Placing a silly regulation on a form of entertainment because it is extra stupid is a bad idea.
        • by KevMar (471257) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:44PM (#17776302) Homepage Journal
          I can spend 3 hours in the game farming (not doing the fun stuff) to earn 300 gold

          or I can spend 3 hour working extra (or overtime) to make $30.00 and purchase 1000 gold.

          what is your time worth to you?

          What if it took you 3 hours to make 50 gold?

          each game and even game server are different, but that was the exact exchange that many world of Warcraft players would face. Recently the market has shifted around, but at one point it was more economical to just purchase the gold.
        • by Znork (31774)
          "practice with their shitty bands"

          Practicing with shitty bands isnt an artificially scarce product.

          "freeing up the spender to do other actual work in the economy."

          The goods in question are _artificially_ scarce. _Neither_ needs to spend time as the items are _only a database update_. In the 'real world' it takes neither time nor resources to produce the in-game items; at a 'real world' market valuation, they could both (and, in fact, everyone in the game) have the particular item at zero cost, freeing them
          • Person A wants *something*.

            Person B has *something*, or can obtain/create *something*.

            Person A pays Person B money in exchange for *something*.

            It doesn't matter what that something is. Desirable is desirable. Opening up the database so that anybody could have anything at any time would eliminate all desire and the entire market.

            I think you're missing the point that the thread starter essentially made: what is valuable in this situation is time. Given a long enough timeline, you can obtain every item in t
      • by pluther (647209)

        Of course, one can question the wisdom in allowing real-world money to be exchanged for what is essentially a particularly tedious and inefficient database update.

        While I was in college (in the 80's), a major source of my income was entering data off of printed lists for various companies. These companies seemed to think it was worth exchanging real-world money (up to $8.00/hour!) for a particularly tedious and inefficient database update.

    • by Da3vid (926771)
      Simple. They just delist all items that look similar. When in doubt in legal issues, you err on the side of safety. When in doubt on delisting on eBay, you err on the side of not having to read more than the auction title. Either that, or any company comes in and claims a potential dispute, then Vero just cancels your listing on their behalf. See? Simple.
    • by beakerMeep (716990) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:12PM (#17775714)

      Because, in the end, what's wrong with selling people your time or services to them?
      Because it's a thinly veiled end run around the rules. I would imagine that since this isnt law, but rather a TOS policy, ebay can easily just say "Selling virtual items or services to provide virtual items is prohibited." Especially since the items aren't the intellectual property of the seller. I'm sure some clever folks will still sell this stuff more subtly. But having to be subtle will decrease your exposure to your customers, and thus your profits.
    • Or go to a real auction website that is aimed (almost) exclusively at gaming 'properties' ... www.playerauctions.com ... its what I've used to sell various accounts when I'm tired of (insert MMO here).
    • by Cornflake917 (515940) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:18PM (#17775812) Homepage

      I mean, are they safe guarding against this also? Because, in the end, what's wrong with selling people your time or services to them? Once they complete the service, you pay them. I don't know how they could find some way around this or tell which auctions for services need to be revoked.
      There's nothing wrong with people selling their time for games like WoW. At least, there's nothing legally wrong. However, in terms of the WoW EULA, the trading of characters and gold out of game is not allowed. eBay probably feels this is unethical, and the fact that they are allowing and making it easier for people to circumvent Blizzard's contracts is borderline illegal. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they made this decision because Blizzard is threatening them with legal pressure.

      IIRC, almost every WoW character being sold on eBay had the same disclaimer stating something on the lines of "By looking at this webpage you are agreeing that you aren't a Blizzard employee. The sale of this auction doesn't involve any possesions, instead you are paying for my services and time that I put into this character."

      That's probably why eBay made the decision to delist all virtual goods, because people were always finding ways to circumvent their rules by changing the wording. Now they won't be able to do that.
  • by P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:43PM (#17775134) Journal
    Good to see they are pulling virtual goods, how about the real junk coming from China (this has been a real problem, especially with things like musical instruments)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      As long as they are not misrepresenting what they are selling, then I don't see a problem. If I want to pay $100 for someone else to play the first 20 hours of World of Warcraft, so I don't have to play all those low levels, then I should be able to. At the same time, if I get bored with my character, there's no reason why I shouldn't be allowed to sell my character so that somebody else can use it. Who care's if it's not a tangible item. iTunes sells thousands of intangible items everyday, as does ever
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by P3NIS_CLEAVER (860022)
        Go check out "gibson les paul guitar" on ebay. They are selling guitars that are complete fakes as genuine. I have heard other horror stories on forums about guitars with thin veneer over chipboard and things like that. Why does ebay allow this?
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Exactly. Who cares if they are selling virtual goods as long as they aren't misrepresenting them. There's bigger problems on eBay, they shouldn't be going after people who aren't trying to scam others.
      • by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Friday January 26, 2007 @05:19PM (#17776850) Homepage Journal

        there's no reason why I shouldn't be allowed to sell my character
        One thing they point out is that its not YOUR CHARACTER, its never your character, you are paying your little fee each month to use their character in their game.
      • by gad_zuki! (70830)
        That guy youre paying to 'play for you' isnt actually playing, he's ninja looting. When you 'pay' for that level sixty and every group you get into has some guy who is quiet the whole time and then ninja loots the best item dont complain to blizzard. its not the game that sucks, its you.

    • I think the counterfeit goods is a great example of how this is all show for ebay. Ebay seems to either lack the will or the ability to really police their site, which is one of the reasons I only use it as a last resort. They seem to go on massive delistings on occasion just to make it look like they care so they won't get sued.
    • by Duncan3 (10537)
      They aren't counterfeit.

      They are the real thing, made during the "3rd shift". In other words, they make your widget 8 hours a day for sale in US stores, then run the factory the other 16 hours a day to make your widget for sale everywhere else on the planet.

      This is really really old news BTW.

      Of course the plans to your widget are available for sale even before they start making them for you, and others start making them too. Maybe that's what you meant? But those are real too, with your plans.
    • I'm actually kind of irritated; I got my key for guildwars off of ebay. New key with no characters on it, cheaper than buying it from the store, and I didn't have to wait for a package with a CD just for the sake of having a CD (I had downloaded the client whilst browsing ebay for the key). It was quick, it was easy, and I actually used eBay for the first time in 2 years. And now they're disallowing it. They get the thumbs-down from me for this, imo.
      • by Daemonstar (84116)
        You wouldn't be saying that if the key you got was invalid or revoked the next day, or something, would you?

        If you ran a business where you allowed people to rent (subscription), say, a car (account), then a person started renting that car out or using it as a taxi service (selling account items, i.e.: gold or a sword) out to people and making money off the deal. You'd be pretty pissed, eh? Same thing.

        In this scenario, the car (account) isn't there for the person (subscriber) to turn a profit (selli
        • by pluther (647209)

          If you ran a business where you allowed people to rent (subscription), say, a car (account), then a person started renting that car out or using it as a taxi service (selling account items, i.e.: gold or a sword) out to people and making money off the deal. You'd be pretty pissed, eh? Same thing.

          I agree that it's essentially the same thing.

          I don't agree that there's a problem.

          If I'm getting what I consider a fair value for the use of the goods, why would I care what use they were put to?

          In fact, thi

  • by tepp (131345) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:44PM (#17775146)
    I doubt it will impact the various virtual economies much, considering that you can go directly to several of the larger farming groups and buy gold direct.

    For example, IGE.

    If people still want to buy/sell virtual goods, there really isn't any way to prevent them.

    Still, I salute Ebay for trying.
  • Given the nebulous nature of ownership in online games...

    Don't game creators and server owners place very explicit copyright ownership clauses into their license agreements with users? People obviously break the rules without much thought, but isn't the exact legal ownership already determined in just about every virtual world? Second Life, for example, makes it very clear what the user does and does not own in their online documentation.
    • No game company, AFAIK, is as clear about their stand on it as Blizzard is with WoW. The EULA specifically states that buying or selling virtual goods with real currency is a bannable offense. They don't enforce it very well, but they do enforce it. No one else, AFAIK, does.

  • by User 956 (568564) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:46PM (#17775176) Homepage
    The well-known auction site eBay has recently made a policy decision that may throw these assumptions into a different light. Following up on a rumour that's been going around I spoke today with a media representative for the company, who confirmed that eBay is now delisting all auctions for 'virtual artifacts' from the site.

    This is insane. There's clearly a market for this activity. And there's clearly a way to handle it legitimately (i.e. IGE). Instead of setting up a parallel site (like eBay motors), they just decide they're not going to handle it at all. Way to serve your investors, ebay.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Dutch Gun (899105)
      Insane? Not really. Ebay is just avoiding what is essentially a grey-market area.

      I'd guess the potential costs of litigation far outweigh any profits to be made from allowing these actions. It's not like Ebay is lacking in traffic in other, more legitimate transactions. And yes, before someone makes a snarky comment, I'm aware there are plenty of illegitimate ebayers trafficking in other items. That doesn't affect this decision though.
       
      • by User 956 (568564)
        Insane? Not really. Ebay is just avoiding what is essentially a grey-market area.

        But rather than try and put any effort or brainpower into making it a white-market area, they just throw their hands up and give up.

        Ebay's core mission is to be *the* auction site, for whatever "it" is that you're looking for. It's pretty clear that they feel this marketshare is too much "hassle" for them. Which I guess is fine, some startup will eat their lunch in this area, and ebay will have to fork over a couple bil
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by faloi (738831)
      This is insane. There's clearly a market for this activity. And there's clearly a way to handle it legitimately (i.e. IGE). Instead of setting up a parallel site (like eBay motors), they just decide they're not going to handle it at all. Way to serve your investors, ebay.

      That's the thing though... IGE isn't legitimate. If a MMORPG publisher finds out you bought gold or items from them, they can ban your account. eBay is protecting their customers.

      It's either this, or field the "eBay shou
      • If a MMORPG publisher finds out you bought gold or items from them, they can ban your account.

        As they could easily ban your account even if they didn't discover any TOS violation (they have no obligation to let you play), I fail to see how that changes anything.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      This is insane. There's clearly a market for this activity. And there's clearly a way to handle it legitimately (i.e. IGE).

      Many if not most games specify in the TOS that you may not exchange game goods for money or vice versa and that to do so is grounds for account termination.

      It's not entirely clear that it IS legitimate.

      It's also not entirely clear that it is property.

      • Except you aren't buying any properties or gold. You are buying someone else's time to do what you ask them to do.

        That's how IGE and most other ingame item sellers make their cash. And it's perfectly legitimate.
    • Way to serve your investors, ebay.

      That's exactly what they're doing. Ebay is by far the biggest lawsuit target for these auctions. Lawsuits over IP can be huge in terms of money and PR. If they felt 100% legally confident they wouldn't have banned the auctions.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden (803437)
      Doesn't matter if there's a market for a particular item; you have to look at your gain vs investment and risk. They just decided to leave it alone as the risk outweighs the gain. If there really is a market, a braver company will pop up and support it.

      If you'll remember, originally eBay allowed firearms listings on their site. As long as it is handled properly, it's perfectly legal to sell guns in such a manner (www.gunbroker.com and www.auctionarms.com both cater to this), but the number of sheer ignor
  • by Mustang Matt (133426) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:47PM (#17775194)
    Could I still sell a pencil and include my WoW account with it?
    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      To comply with listing requirements, we are including a non-functioning hard drive with this WoW account.

  • There are games (and whatever you want to call "Second Life") that encourage virtual-to-realworld economies. Will eBay differentiate on a per-game basis?
    • Except Second Life supports it through their website and game interface, there's really no need to go to Ebay.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:47PM (#17775214)

    or authorized to distribute it by the intellectual property owner.
    How could you hand over an item in a game unless you have that authorisation. The game producers are as close to omnipotent gods as you can get, if they want to stop it, they can.

     
  • by bokmann (323771) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:51PM (#17775272) Homepage
    Does this mean they are also going to delist auctions for domain names, downloadable software, and other, not-so-game-oriented property that also happens to be virtual?
    • by \\ (118555)
      This was my first thought. Surely we have the right to sell our own domain names, but they are virtual property. So, which is which?
    • by Paralizer (792155)
      The issue, as I understand it, is the legality aspect.

      If you buy a domain name, sure you do not own anything tangible. However, you do own the name. I'm not exactly sure how registrars deal with this, but I do not think they have the ability to just arbitrarily expire your domain prematurely. This example might not be the best since I do not know all the in's and out's of how registration works, but you get the idea.

      With video games like World of Warcraft, the items in question "belong" to the compan
  • by sfjoe (470510) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:51PM (#17775288)


    Not only can we buy crap we don't need, now we can buy crap that doesn't even exist. Whattacountry!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I take it you've never bought stock or insurance?
    • by Da3vid (926771)
      No, now you -can't- buy the crap that doesn't even exist. And what does this even have to do with "the" country? I do commend you, however, on your successful bait to get some karma.

  • The seller must be the owner of the underlying intellectual property, or authorized to distribute it by the intellectual property owner.

    So, can I not sell used books, cd's, artwork or games?

    Will eBay be shutting down Half.com?
    • So, can I not sell used books, cd's, artwork or games?

      Jesus H. Christ, have you never heard of First Sale Doctrine [wikipedia.org]? I assure you that ebay's lawyers have, and will not be advising that they cut out a truly absurd percentage of their revenue over something that is legal. Anyway the two situations are not remotely similar. In the case of a book, cd, artwork, or game, you are selling physical media which contains some data.

      In the case of a digital asset, you are selling a promise to make an alteration to a game world. There is no physical good and furthermore there is no intellectual property to transfer! It's not even like you exported an item out of the game world and are transferring the file representing the object. You are trying to sell something that clearly does not belong to you. You are not your character in world of warcraft. That's not even a representation of you. It's more like you've paid a monthly fee to play with someone else's action figures, in their sandbox.

      • by popo (107611)

        RTFA before summoning your god next time.

        Yes, I know all about First Sale, but that's not the term of the UA that eBay cited in their decision, which was The seller must be the owner of the underlying intellectual property, or authorized to distribute it by the intellectual property owner.

        • What is eBay's policy for selling digitally delivered goods and items?

          Emphasis mine.

          It clearly does not apply to CDs etc because those are not digitally delivered.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          The reply brings up the doctrine of first sale because it controls in your specious "slippery slope" example but not the original scenario. The reason first sale does not apply to the sale of virtual goods or characteres is because control of those virtual goods or characters is granted only under a license and not by a bill of sale. That is to say, when you buy World of Warcraft, you buy the physical artifact in the box, but you do not buy what you are logging on to. The characters, world, and all items ar
          • by popo (107611)

            Ok point taken. IANAL but I was unaware that all the elements of the game (ie: virtual property) were not considered part of that "first sale". To me it seems dangerous because if those elements are part of first sale, then they're overriding it. I would argue that if they're selling you a game in which the acquisition of virtual items is an inherent and inseparable part of the game, then those items are part of the first sale.
    • by jonnythan (79727) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:16PM (#17775784) Homepage
      You must be the owner of the intellectual property *if you are selling intellectual property*.

      If you're selling a physical item, you must be the owner of the physical item.

      You don't own your WoW character. You own your CDs. You can sell your CDs but not your WoW character.

      Done.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by InFire (32320)
      You guys seem very naive. Corporations do not have morals - they only care about $$$$$$money and lawsuits. The people that run them are even less likely to have morals than politicians (aka lawyers). In fact the legal system demands ("due diligence") that they do everything legally (moral or immoral) possible to maximize profit and crush any opposition.

      eBay has tried several times to shut down Half.com even though they do not have any other venue for selling rare/low turnover items profitably. They only bou
    • by burndive (855848)

      So, can I not sell used books, cd's, artwork or games?

      No, you can't sell the text in a book, the sound on a CD, the picture on a painting, or the data on game media. These are all the intellectual property of the content creators, and they have "copy" rights granted to them by congress in accordance with the constitution, which are also internationally recognized.

      There is also an internationally recognized principle of first sale: if you buy the aforementioned content on media, you can transfer owne

  • ...to open up an auction site that caters specifically to these types of transactions.
  • Is eBay that lazy? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cornflake917 (515940) on Friday January 26, 2007 @03:56PM (#17775398) Homepage

    The seller must be the owner of the underlying intellectual property, or authorized to distribute it by the intellectual property owner.
    For games such as World of Wacraft which explicity say in the EULA that all characters etc. are property of Blizzard and that the selling of these items break the terms of the license, I can see why you would want to delist them.

    What about games that do allow or will allow buying of virtual property? It seems to me that eBay would be shooting themselves in the foot by blindly delisting all virtual items.

    On a different topic, now where will I shop for a level 70 blood elf paladin?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by srvivn21 (410280)

      On a different topic, now where will I shop for a level 70 blood elf paladin?

      My guess would be eBay.

      Hypothetical situation:

      You buy a piece of paper. That piece of paper is imprinted with the account and password (as a "free" bonus), the seller sends said paper through the mail and sends you a confirmation email containing the same information.

      You bought a physical object, and got a virtual avatar as a bonus. If the seller "forgets" to physically mail the paper, who's going to complain?

  • That a game is fundamentally flawed if players pay others to play the game for them? These auctions wouldn't exist in such large numbers if the leveling process wasn't so damn tedious. But I'm just a curmudgeon who can't understand why 8 million people play WoW :p
    • Just as easy to say, "Any game that has cheat codes is fundamentally flawed," but it's not any more true there...It doesn't matter how good the game is, there will always be someone who wants to skip to the end.

      I don't use cheat codes, and I don't buy stuff off of goldfarming sites, and I don't do it because it ruins the game for me...Kills all the sense of satisfaction from accomplishing things.

      But I understand why someone who's played a game up to level 60, and decides he wants to try a second character c
    • by Paralizer (792155)
      Mod parent up.

      You're entirely right, why the hell would anyone do that?

      What's the point of even considering to play a game if you're just going to skip right to the end anyhow? That's like buying a movie ticket 2 hours late and walking into the theater to catch the last 10 minutes of the film. Bravo kids.
    • It happens with any and all things: people will pay money for others to do things for them they deem that have no time/patience for. For an example:

      Is mowing the lawn fundamentally flawed because people hire others to mow it? These gardeners wouldn't exist in such large numbers if the mowing process wasn't so damn tedious. But I'm just a curmudgeon who can't understand why 8 million people have lawns :p
  • PlayerAuctions.com has no rules about who gets to list items and who's items get taken down. I used to ebay for about $2,000/month but ebay got mad at me. Apparently only certain people are allowed to list 500 auctions of gold selling, while my modest 5 listings a week got banned. I'm glad no one will be using Ebay anymore. PlayerAuctions.com seem cool and aren't capricious on the ban hammer.
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:12PM (#17775698)
    I'd rather eBay start delisting all those "informational CDs" instead.
  • Still not clear. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WED Fan (911325)

    Last time I posted about this, some Virtual Fan Boy, with some Level 38 Condescention Skill took me to task but, here goes:

    Why would someone spend good hard cash to get virtual stuff simply for the game play? This follows a question of course, after that Korean chap killed himself with exhaustion after DAYS of nonstop gaming, WHY?

    • by Paralizer (792155)
      1. Addiction. Contrary to many peoples beliefs, it does exist. I've been addicted to games before, and I've certainly seen other people who have. What I don't understand is how they can let it become so out of control the start paying money, depriving themselves of sleep, and dying. I remember reading about some kid who was playing Quake1 at one of the first Quake conventions, who refused to use the bathroom for so long he explosively defecated at his computer. Please, for the love of god, take a break
    • Why would someone spend good hard cash to get virtual stuff simply for the game play?

      Why would someone spend good hard cash to pull a lever and watch three wheels with pictures on them spin around and never show three in a row? Why would someone spend good hard cash on alcohol night after night when they know it's ruining their life? Why do people eat more calories in a day than they consume? WHY?

      Compulsive behavior does not need a why. You could think of it in terms of stimulus/reward, a la Skinner's pige

  • by DogAlmity (664209) on Friday January 26, 2007 @04:44PM (#17776300)
    Yes, you, you people with more money than you know what to do with!

    You DON'T need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on nothing!

    Here's a link to website with a huge listing of charitable organizations. I promise you that giving 2 grand to help the needy or cure a disease will make you feel better than spending 2 grand on a shiny new level 70 rogue.

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/ [charitynavigator.org]

    Comprende?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)
      It's not nothing to people who do that, they have real value.

      Assuming you put a value on your time, which you should.

      Think about it, there is this great fun game, but there is one part which isn't so fun.
      You can spend 100 hour doing the unfun stuff, and then have fun..or you can spend 80 bucks and have it done for you in a few minutes. Which makes more sense in that scenerio?

      Too some people, paying 80 bucks to have 1000s of hours of fun is worth money.

      Compared to other forms of entertainment, that's pretty
  • would seem to indicate that RMT is now an acceptable part of Massive gaming

    Bullshit. SOE and Sigil just opened the servers for Vanguard today, and the EULA/TOS forbids you (not surprisingly) from selling in-game stuff for RL cash. They also have a huge blurb in there where you agree not to sue them if they change things in-game such that your supposed investment tanks in value.

  • by radarsat1 (786772) on Friday January 26, 2007 @05:27PM (#17777006) Homepage
    I hope that they can classify "informational PDF files" as "virtual items" and delist them. Ebay is just plagued with people selling "information" on how to get actual products, hoping someone will basically make a mistake and buy it thinking they are getting the product itself. This has got to stop. It's basically Ebay SPAM.
  • by boarder (41071) on Friday January 26, 2007 @06:19PM (#17777850) Homepage
    EBay tried to de-list my auction back in October for the character I played. I put up my fully epic hunter for $375 buyout, and it sold in under 12 hours.

    The kicker is that about 6 hours after I got the paypal payment for it, eBay sends me an email saying they have taken my auction down because it violated Blizzard's IP. The auction was already done! Hilarious work, eBay... not only did I get the money for my character, but I didn't have to pay eBay for the auction cost.

    The other guy got my account;
    I got money for the time I put into the character;
    Blizzard got the money for the game CDs and my monthly subscription;
    Paypal got their bite out of our transaction;
    eBay lost money for the bandwidth, site design and hosting.

There is no opinion so absurd that some philosopher will not express it. -- Marcus Tullius Cicero, "Ad familiares"

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