Understanding eBay’s “Description Theft” Policy

When a seller writes an original description of an item or takes an original picture, they own the copyright on their work. This happens without any requirement for them to register or even to want the copyright – that’s just the way copyright works. What that means is that it’s actually illegal to copy another sellers description or pictures.

eBay’s Policy.

eBay refer to the practice of copying another seller’s listing and using it in your own auction as ‘description theft’. It is against their listing policies, and ignorance of the rules is no defence.

What Could Happen?

If your ‘theft’ is discovered, then your listing will be ended and all bids will be cancelled. Do it more than once and your account could get suspended, and you’re subject to the usual eBay punishments: you could lose PowerSeller privileges, or your auctions could be ended, leaving you with a stack of eBay fees.

Is it Likely?

It’s only likely that eBay will investigate description theft and go after you if the seller whose description you took actually takes the time to report you. When you’re competing with that seller directly, though, don’t be surprised if they do turn you in – after all, you’re their competitor!

Think of how you’d feel if someone was re-using a description that you took the time to research and fine-tune for the most sales – and not only that, but they were using it against you, to list competing items. That’s why other sellers don’t want their descriptions taken.

But I Don’t Like Writing Descriptions.

Instead of taking another seller’s descriptions, you can use the stock descriptions that eBay have on file for many items, especially things like CDs, DVDs and books. Simply enter the item’s unique ID number (an ISBN for a book, for example), and the listing will be created for you. If you can’t find any unique ID, then you can also search by name to find a matching item.

Once you’ve found your item, you’ll get a listing with all the technical details on the item, and often a stock picture, too. This is called ‘pre-filled item information’, and eBay licence it from big databases on your behalf.

It really is worth taking the time to write your own descriptions, though, as many people will be listing items using the pre-filled information. Remember that if you sell the same things often then you can re-use your own descriptions as many times as you want. You can keep your own database, re-using the ones that get high prices and re-writing the ones that don’t. Writing descriptions is the biggest way that you have control over your auctions.

It’s easy to keep discovering new things about eBay, isn’t it? So many of the rules and functions are completely hidden away that sometimes it feels like unravelling one big mystery – and, for me at least, that’s a big part of the fun. In the next post, we’ll take a look at how to make more money with eBay’s affiliate program.

*** About The Author ***

Hannes Johnson is an eBay fan and recommends The Auction Resource Network - The Ultimate Learning Resource Site for Online Auction Sellers! ( www.workathomemadeeasy.net/go.php?c=riz_ebayseller ) for anyone interested in making money through eBay.

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One Response to Understanding eBay’s “Description Theft” Policy

  1. Donald Says:

    Good info. Do you think opt in leads is a good product to sell on eBay?

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