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EBay and the fight over policing the Internet
A French court punishes eBay for fake luxury goods.
 

What happened
A court in Paris fined Internet auction site eBay $61 million for failing to prevent the online sale of counterfeit Louis Vuitton bags and Dior perfume in the country. LVMH, the luxury brand that makes those products, says that 90 percent of its bags and perfumes sold on eBay are fakes. EBay said it has taken sufficient steps to fight counterfeiting, and argued that the ruling hurts honest online merchants. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
What a lousy deal for eBay, and for its users, said Therese Poletti in MarketWatch.com. The court didn't just crack down on fakes—it ordered the auctioneer to cut out unauthorized sales of some authentic LVMH fragrances, so for the average eBay seller, "the ruling stinks.”

It also stinks to get stuck with fake luxury goods, said Vidya Ram in Forbes.com. EBay insists it’s doing everything it can to protect its customers, but it could avoid criticism by vetting luxury goods as other companies -- such as Portero.com -- already do.

Even if you think the French court did the right thing, said Daniel Altman in the International Herald Tribune's Managing Globalization blog, there’s no denying that this ruling "opens up a big can of worms for online commerce." What if lots of other companies now sue eBay for selling knockoffs, or Amazon for selling blasphemous books, or YouTube for indecent videos?

 

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