Gamers take note: eBay delists virtual items
eBay, the virtual auction house, has decided to get out of the business of auctioning virtual things. "Massively multiplayer" online games have for some time spilled over into the real world as gamers have used eBay to buy and sell - using real money - virtual currencies, avatars, and various other artifacts of their universes. No more. Slashdot reports that eBay has decided that the intellectual property rights on virtual items are a bit too murky for its taste: "Given the nebulous nature of ownership in online games, eBay has decided the prudent decision is to remove the possibility for players to sell what might be the [intellectual property] of other parties via their service," writes Slashdot member Zonk.

Valleywag notes the irony of the decision given that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is an investor in Second Life owner Linden Labs. Given that connection, however, and the fact that Second Life has some elaborate, Lawrence Lessig-inspired intellectual property rights policies in place, The Browser wouldn't be surprised if eBay (EBAY) made an exception permitting Second Life sales.

Still, for the rest of the "MMO" world, the eBay move could prove legally significant. As Zonk notes: "eBay is ipso facto declaring virtual goods to be the property of the game makers and not the players who 'earn' them."
Posted by Oliver Ryan 12:13 PM 8 Comments comment | Add a Comment

eBay getting out of virtual items has probably less to do with property rights that fraud over at its PayPal division. Virtual items are not covered under any credit card agreements that eBay must live under to operate PayPal and thus eBay is "eating" a lot of these transactions that are souring.
Posted By Chris Augustine, Cary, NC : 4:12 PM  

I can already predict where this is going. Any online virtual world company that moves to claim ownership of all virtual goods on its site is inviting competitors without such restrictions. If the current leaders in this market don't head off the problem with explicit ownership rights granted to the players in their usage agreement, they'll see members jump ship in droves to competitors that do. Ultimately the market will decide who has ownership and I betting on the players.
Posted By Stephen Ward, Monterey, CA : 4:26 PM  

eBay is not out of their rights to refuse to sell something to another buyer. eBay can refuse to sell, let's say, a dead person's body because they would probably be charged with some sort of crime. I don't see why they couldn�t get away with refusing to auction virtual things. Not only will this stop the use of fraud on virtual items, but they will also cut down the players who rely on wealth instead of skill.
Posted By Tanner Schild, Tillamook OR : 10:18 PM  

I'm willing to wager that eBay has a lot more to lose than gain from this decision; the virtual property market is huge, with accounts and currency going for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars.

As an account reseller, I find my this disturbing news, as it disrupts my ability to do business in the way I'm used to. However, this will only result in eBay losing the profits that it's been making from these sales for the past years.
Posted By Bryan, DE : 8:01 AM  

I agree with the first poster. This has little, if anything, to do with eBay taking a stance on property rights and more to do with avoiding fraud or situations where it's hard to figure out who the actual owner is when two people have conflicting claims. Just because eBay doesn't want to sell it, doesn't mean it's not *someone's* personal property.
Posted By Mike, Washington DC : 9:11 AM  

I agree with the first commenter that this has much more to do with Paypal than anything else. Selling a virtual item using Paypal is just asking for a chargeback because it's impossible to prove delivery by Paypal regulations (package tracking).
Posted By Erin, Hockessin DE : 12:34 PM  

This unwise move by eBay will lose them millions of dollars in auction fees and double the profits of giant companies such as IGE. The MMORPG industry shows a high demand of in-game currency and where�s a high demand, marketers will always provide a wide array of offers such as Power-Gamers RPG Vault. Games like World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, EverQuest, StarWars Galaxy, Guildwars, SilkRoad, Lineage and the list could go on forever, are highly addictive and players will go to great lengths to enrich their gaming experience and otherwise enhance their virtual characters by purchasing the items and in-game currency for real cash.
Posted By Ricky Syverson, Miami, Florida : 5:10 PM  

It's about time. Ebay allowed the sale of these virtual items, and it's other division PayPay, would not. Many, including myself had chargeback after chargeback, after chargeback, of people who figured out the loop hole. bought up every virtual thing they could for the games they played, then promptly called their Cc company and stated unauthorized use. Even though I had email, messenger converstaion logs, PayPal and the Cc companies would not listen and the virtual thieves got away with my money. Now I am in debt with both Ebay and PayPal, and don't have the merchandise any more. What should have been included in this report that was't, what what I imagine was the staggering amoun t of money both PayPal customers, and PayPal has eaten, because of their policies regarding virtual items. These people were allowed to claim unauthorized use of their CC for up to 5K, and if they have multiple accounts, they bought thousands of dollars of virtual items, and paid nothing. these are the people who should be held accountable, not PayPal and their customers.
Posted By Trixie : 12:16 PM  

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