Open Source

The nerve of some people: Selling OpenOffice on eBay

Over the weekend I came across this listing on eBay. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Not only did someone have the nerve to sell digital copies of OpenOffice they were listing it as: Open Office Pro Ultimate Edition 2007 Microsoft Windows.

Of course I quickly reported the user to eBay. Why? The seller is clearly breaking the LGPL under which OpenOffice is protected.

Now I'm sure eBay has no idea how to proceed. Why do I think this? When reporting this issue, I basically had to select from standard drop-down lists the subject (and sub-subject and sub-sub-subject); there was never a Licensing violation option. in their list. You could report a user for selling fraudulent or pirated software - but the seller was not selling fraudulent or pirated copies of OpenOffice (in fact, is there a such thing?). No the seller was SELLING copies of OpenOffice which, in and of itself, is a violation. The seller was selling something which can not be sold. The seller was making money off of something he can not make money from.

How do you report this?

Well, judging from eBay's system of reporting, you don't. This needs to be addressed. I looked at the rules and regulations regarding digitally downloaded items and these are the only "rules" (taken from the eBay support page):

  • Any digitally delivered item may not be pornographic in nature.
  • The seller must be the owner of the underlying intellectual property, or authorized to distribute it by the intellectual property owner.
  • The seller's item may not include software that harms the buyer's machine (for example, a virus), uses it for malicious or unauthorized purposes (for example, sending spam e-mails or spreading a virus), or violates the buyer's privacy (for example, spyware or cookies per the HTML and JavaScript policy).
  • To help verify the identity of sellers listing digital downloadable items, eBay requires that sellers are PayPal Verified.

So the only applicable rule is the second rule and the seller did NOT (nor will not) ever own the copy of OpenOffice he was selling.

I do hope that eBay takes action against the seller who is selling copies of OpenOffice for $3.33. It's an outrage! Not only because he is selling software protected from this sort of thing, he is selling it for $3.33!!!!

If I had to pay for OpenOffice, I would certainly pay more than $3.33!

Anyway, if you are a champion for open source software (as I am) you might consider also reporting the seller to eBay. Maybe action will be taken against him and, more important, eBay will add to their "rules" protection for open source software.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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