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K.Mandla
July 11th, 2006, 09:08 PM
I'm engaged in a tete-a-tete with eBay over a listing I posted for a used laptop with Xubuntu installed. I made the mistake of mentioning the fact that it has a legitimate Window 2000 serial number, then made an even bigger blunder by putting the phrase "Win2K serial" in the auction title.

Naturally, the 'bots or whatnot that scour descriptions looking for pirated material flagged my auction, and it was terminated -- with extreme prejudice. (The auction fees were refunded, though.)

Of course, in a mild state of rage I emailed eBay and shook my finger at them. Interestingly, the part that tipped the scales in favor of dismissing the auction was, apparently, this paragraph.


The operating system is installed for demonstration purposes only, so you can be sure you have a working laptop when it arrives. It is not intended for use, and should be replaced or rebuilt when the computer arrives. Most people aren't familiar with Linux, and so it might be fun to mess with for a while, but I don't offer technical support for it. I installed it because I happen to prefer it, it's better for troubleshooting hardware and because I don't have the patience to wait an hour and a half for Win2K to install, then reboot, download updates, install those updates, reboot, download drivers, install drivers, reboot, install antivirus programs, reboot, install spyware scanners, reboot ... and so forth. If you prefer Windows, you'll have to install it for yourself. The machine has a valid Win2K serial, and you can use it if you're willing to take the time to put it on there.
I thought that fairly self-explanatory, but in my polite (but obviously prefab) e-mail from ebay, they said this.


Your listing stated: "...The operating system is installed for demonstration purposes only ... It is not intended for use, and should be replaced or rebuilt when the computer arrives...", which violates a policy. Please review the applicable policy at the end of this message.

To review applicable policy, please visit:

REPLICA, COUNTERFEIT ITEMS AND UNAUTHORIZED COPIES: This policy states, in part: "...unauthorized copies (such as copies of software programs, video games, music albums, movies, television programs, or photographs) are not permitted on eBay. Unauthorized copies include (but are not limited to) copies that are pirated, duplicated, backed-up or bootlegged. It is illegal to sell unauthorized copies of media...".

Guideline
- If the product you are selling bears the name or logo of a company, but it wasn't made or endorsed by that company, don't list it on eBay.

Examples of items that may not be listed on eBay:
- Replacement parts for an HP® printer which use HP's parts number and name, but were not made by HP
- Pirated copies of video games
- VHS, CD-R , or DVD-R copies of television programs taped off of television
- "Backup" or "archival" copies of software programs
- Pirated copies of music
- "Bootleg" recordings of live music performances
- "Home video" versions of a movie still in theaters
- Software loaded onto a hard drive that is not being sold with the original media (disks, manuals, etc.)
- CD-Rs containing scanned pages from a book, magazine, manual or other copyrighted written materials that were not written by you

Additional Information:
Since the sale of counterfeit items, unauthorized replicas and unauthorized copies is prohibited by law sellers may not list these items on eBay.
"Oh," I thought. "I must have run into an eBay censor who doesn't know what Linux is."

This was my reply.


Thanks for the reply. I see now how the confusion crept in, and I appreciate you taking the time to explain it.

I should have been more clear in the description. The installed software is Xubuntu Linux, which is free and open source. There are no licensing restrictions for that operating system on that computer.

This is one of the reasons I put Linux on the computer: Not only is it free for duplication and use, but I don't have to worry about the hassles of working with a Microsoft product, licensure agreements, etc.

I described it as "for demonstration purposes only" because I can't take the time to offer technical support on a secondhand laptop, but I want the winner to be sure that it is 100 percent working when he/she opens the box. I fully expect the winning bidder to erase the hard drive when the computer arrives, since Linux fans are a minority.

I mention the Windows 2000 serial number in the auction because I know some people prefer Windows. It is my understanding that if they have an original installation disc for Windows 2000, they can install Windows without violating the EULA, since the number assigned to the laptop is present on the underside.

Furthermore, I don't think it would be proper for me to install Windows 2000 on that machine, then sell it. I think it would be slightly unethical for me to agree to Microsoft's EULA on behalf of the winning bidder, and I can't complete the installation without acknowledging the EULA. That means any system I mail out would be incomplete and require attention, and I run the risk of a disgruntled buyer.

So from my perspective, the decision to accept Microsoft's EULA has to be made by the buyer, when the computer arrives.

In short, as I see it, Linux on that machine is the best option. It is in the interest of the winner to 1) have a working and functional operating system when the computer arrives; 2) to have a free and open operating system that does not imply a pre-agreed EULA; and 3) have a legitimate serial number assigned to the machine, if they choose to install Windows 2000.

Either way, I appreciate your help with this matter. As you can see by my feedback and business history, I try to be an honest seller and buyer. I enjoy selling things on ebay and I appreciate that you've taken the time to help.

By the way, I plan to repost the auction tomorrow, with an edited description that makes it clear what operating system is installed, and why. I see that my fees for the auction were refunded; I appreciate that. I look forward to working with you folks in the future.

Cheers!
(me)
What do you think? Any suggestions? Did I make a decent case?

Personally, I have no axe to grind with eBay, since all they're doing is sweating under Ballmer's thumb. And really, at this rate, I can afford to sell the laptop with a blank hard drive and let the customer sort it out. But it seemed like a good opportunity to show someone Linux, and avoid some of the issues I mentioned.

T700
July 11th, 2006, 09:12 PM
Very interesting thread. I think your responses were great and I look forward to reading the outcome.

Paul

ironfistchamp
July 11th, 2006, 09:18 PM
Haha I thought that was brilliant. You put your point across very well. Hope it works.

aysiu
July 11th, 2006, 09:28 PM
I thought you were calm and explained yourself well.

They'll probably just send you back a form response, but you did what you were supposed to.

mips
July 11th, 2006, 09:47 PM
...I made the mistake of mentioning the fact that it has a legitimate Window 2000 serial number, then made an even bigger blunder by putting the phrase "Win2K serial" in the auction title.


Sorry but you dug your own grave, cannot really blame ebay, they are just trying to keep things legit. I must say it does sound a bit crooked not that it was your intention.

K.Mandla
July 16th, 2006, 07:29 PM
Sorry but you dug your own grave, cannot really blame ebay, they are just trying to keep things legit. I must say it does sound a bit crooked not that it was your intention.
You're absolutely right. And like I said, I don't fault eBay at all. I drew way too much attention to myself, and wasn't clear from the start as to what Linux is.

But still, in retrospect, the auction "censor" obviously made a mistake. I rewrote that part of my auction, put it in bold red text and reposted it. No replies from eBay -- but no killed auction, either.

I suppose the lesson to be learned here is: Remember that the poor eBay guy working for minimum wage looking for pirated software might not know what Linux is. ;)

P.S.: It might be tacky to mention it, but here's the description after my edits. ...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150009664035

Cheers, all.

Stew2
July 16th, 2006, 08:15 PM
You're absolutely right. And like I said, I don't fault eBay at all. I drew way too much attention to myself, and wasn't clear from the start as to what Linux is.

But still, in retrospect, the auction "censor" obviously made a mistake. I rewrote that part of my auction, put it in bold red text and reposted it. No replies from eBay -- but no killed auction, either.

I suppose the lesson to be learned here is: Remember that the poor eBay guy working for minimum wage looking for pirated software might not know what Linux is. ;)

P.S.: It might be tacky to mention it, but here's the description after my edits. ...

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150009664035

Cheers, all.

Hello, nice listing! Decent looking laptop :D. As far as your first listing removal from ebay, that could even have been another ebay member reporting you if he suspected an illegal (sp?) operating system. In the few dealings I have had with ebay support all their responses have been rather impersonal form letters for the most part. I think they rely heavily on other ebay members to report illegal/counterfeit items. Good luck with your listing... you've already got quite a few bids considering it still has just over a day to go! Should get a decent price for it since the bidding on computers usually goes nuts in the last ten minutes or so! :D

Regards,
Stew2

RAV TUX
July 16th, 2006, 08:36 PM
the new listing looks good but there are two broken images on the listing you may want to edit them. I'll be watching your listing to see the outcome.

K.Mandla
July 17th, 2006, 06:54 AM
the new listing looks good but there are two broken images on the listing you may want to edit them. I'll be watching your listing to see the outcome.
Thanks. I still have my fingers crossed; I put a lot of work into these things, and to see them evaporate in a second is frustrating.

The broken photo links are a mystery; I think ImageShack gets overloaded from time to time and the links come up dead. It's happened to me more than once, in different auctions. But if I come back a day later, they're fine. Oh well. It's free. :rolleyes:

RAV TUX
July 17th, 2006, 07:00 AM
Thanks. I still have my fingers crossed; I put a lot of work into these things, and to see them evaporate in a second is frustrating.

The broken photo links are a mystery; I think ImageShack gets overloaded from time to time and the links come up dead. It's happened to me more than once, in different auctions. But if I come back a day later, they're fine. Oh well. It's free. :rolleyes:

try flickr also, also free for limited use.

Ubunted
July 17th, 2006, 07:29 AM
I've been trying to sell my ThinkPad on Craigslist with no success as of yet. I think I'll try re-listing it as your listing has given me some ideas.

woedend
July 17th, 2006, 11:08 AM
Why did you write
The operating system is installed for demonstration purposes only
? is that in reference to Xubuntu? If so, why is it only for demonstration purposes?

jeffc313
July 17th, 2006, 01:09 PM
I would have spazzed out and my response would be flaming with f bombs.

K.Mandla
July 17th, 2006, 09:24 PM
I've been trying to sell my ThinkPad on Craigslist with no success as of yet. I think I'll try re-listing it as your listing has given me some ideas.
How does Craigslist work? I always thought that was like buying off the AnandTech forums (http://forums.anandtech.com/categories.aspx?catid=45&entercat=y) -- dangerous. But I've never used anything but eBay and Yahoo! Auctions, so I don't know how it works.


why is it only for demonstration purposes?
In part because I don't want to intimidate a buyer who doesn't know or understand Linux. But also because I just want to "demonstrate" that the laptop works perfectly. And also because I've sold a few laptops with Linux on them, and invariably I get a barrage of "How do I ..." e-mails. Which is all right, but it can be frustrating for a buyer.


try flickr also, also free for limited use.
Can you direct link to photos on flickr? I like the thumbnail feature on ImageShack, but getting pictures on and off their site is a huge hassle.

RAV TUX
July 18th, 2006, 12:01 AM
Can you direct link to photos on flickr? I like the thumbnail feature on ImageShack, but getting pictures on and off their site is a huge hassle.


flickr works just like imageshack but with a lot more user friendly features.

It looks like you did pretty well on your auction.

http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/s.gif http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/s.gif The last 31 seconds appear to be the most pivotal, which is always the case on Ebay, I never bid until the last 30 seconds.

http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/s.gif wmdcst (http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback&userid=wmdcst&iid=150009664035)http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/s.gif ( 321 (http://feedback.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewFeedback&userid=wmdcst)http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/icon/iconTealStar_25x25.gif) http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/s.gif US $152.50 http://pics.ebaystatic.com/aw/pics/s.gifJul-17-06 14:29:55 PDT

http://offer.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewBids&item=150009664035