You Bought It, You Own It: eBay Champions for Ownership Rights on Capitol Hill

December 10, 2012

This week eBay is participating in a series of meetings on Capitol Hill to advocate for owners’ rights and encourage Congress to protect the ability of American consumers and businesses to resell the legitimate, authentic goods that they own. The meetings with leaders from the House and Senate were organized by the Owners’ Rights Initiative (ORI), a coalition of businesses and associations that believe that if you buy something, you own it and should have the right to resell it, lend it, or give it away. ORI members include the American Library Association, Powell Books, Goodwill Industries, Overstock, Redbox, Etsy and others.

Though it seems hard to believe, a Supreme Court case will be decided in the next few months that has the potential to erode the fundamental right to sell an item that you bought and own. The case involves an eBay seller who was sued by a textbook publisher for reselling authentic books. The seller, a graduate student and entrepreneur, bought the books in Thailand and sold them in the U.S. to help cover tuition expenses. These were legitimate books that the book publisher manufactured and sold overseas. Yet, the publisher claims that U.S. copyright law prohibits the resale of copyrighted goods that were manufactured overseas, unless the reseller has the copyright holder’s permission.

eBay is passionate about maintaining an open and competitive online marketplace and opposes efforts by copyright owners to restrict resale and competition of legitimate, authentic goods.  We are working with ORI to  protect your owners’ rights. Without them, manufacturers of products might be able to engage in restrictive practices designed to limit retail, resale, and commerce generally.

That is why eBay Main Street supports ORI’s message that if you bought it, you own it – regardless of where a good was manufactured. This fundamental right is critical to our sellers’ ability to trade online and key to a robust and thriving global e-commerce market.

We are encouraged by positive conversations with members of Congress and their staffs that recognize the importance of protecting owners’ rights.  We are optimistic that policymakers will take action to protect ownership rights, regardless of how the court rules.

We encourage eBay sellers, small business and individuals that are passionate about ownership rights to visit the ORI’s website to learn more and voice their support by signing the Citizens for Ownership Rights petition. You can also take action by contacting your Member of Congress to bring their attention to this important issue.