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Copyright Basics

How do you know if you're infringing someone's copyright, trademark or other rights when you create your listings or other content? To find out, look at the guidelines listed below. This list will help you determine if your content is infringing (breaking copyright law) or prohibited. Not allowing these items or content on the site protects you from liability and helps make eBay a safe place for trading. Selling or buying any of these items could put you at risk for civil or criminal liability. Your auction could be ended early and you may be suspended from eBay.

eBay Guideline: Contrary to popular belief, the fact that material is posted on the world wide web does not mean it is in the "public domain" or otherwise free to be taken, copied or used by others. Creators of web content probably have copyright, trademark and other rights in the material they create. Copying, modifying and possibly linking to content created by others could expose you to legal liability.

eBay Guideline: No Copying Allowed. When you prepare your listing or other content, you generally should use only material (text, photographs, etc.) and trademarks/names that you created or own yourself or licensed from the owners.

eBay Guideline: No Unauthorised Linking to Photos. You cannot link to somebody else's picture (so it appears in your listing) without the owner's permission.

What is a copyright?

A copyright is the protection given to certain original works of authorship, including text, pictures, music, video etc. The owner of a copyright holds the exclusive right to duplicate, distribute and create derivative works from his work.Listings often contain text, photographs and the names/trademarks of companies. The text, photograph and video which you create and use in a listing or post may be protected by copyright laws.

If you copy someone else's text or original photograph or other content, or copy text or photographs or other content from any other place - depending upon how much is copied - you may be infringing someone's copyright. They may be able to request the ending of your auction through our Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Programme. Here are some examples of potentially infringing behaviour:

  • You scan a photograph of Elvis Presley (without permission) to use in a listing in which you are selling an authentic autograph of Elvis Presley

  • You copy someone else's text and without permission paste it into your own listing to sell the same item (Making slight modifications to the text may not relieve you of liability if it is substantially similar to the original text.)

  • You copy the URL of a photograph appearing on a golf club manufacturer's web site or another user's auction causing the photograph to appear in your listing (without permission).

What is a trademark?
A trademark is a name or logo used by a company (or person) to identify its goods or services.

eBay Guideline: No Confusing Listings! If you are selling a brand name product, you can probably show a picture of the product and refer to the company by name, but you cannot do so in such a way that it suggests that your auction is approved, sponsored or endorsed by the manufacturer. Also, you must be careful not to sell products which bear the brand name of a company which did not make the product.

Here are some examples of potentially infringing auctions:

  • You prepare an auction listing to sell non-branded sunglasses, but you use the Rayban® trademark in your listing

  • You are selling a non-Disney® stuffed animal, but use a picture of Mickey Mouse® in your listing

For more information about copyrights and trademarks

Reporting prohibited, questionable & infringing items to eBay:

Verified Rights Owners (VeRO) Programme — Intellectual property owners can report items that allegedly infringe on their rights.

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