Software Industry Group Sues eBay Sellers

Online auction giant eBay has been slow to respond to concerns about pirated software being sold there, prompting the Software & Information Industry Association to file nine lawsuits against eBay-based software sellers, an SIIA official said.

The SIIA believes it is necessary to file the lawsuits, because eBay has been largely uncooperative in cracking down on software piracy, said Keith Kupferschmid, senior vice president of the trade group's antipiracy division.

"We haven't had very much success in getting [eBay] to work with us," he said.

SIIA has asked eBay to stop "buy it now" and one-day auctions for software, but eBay has not complied, Kupferschmid said. In many cases, sellers offering pirated software are looking to sell it quickly, he said. SIIA also asked eBay if the trade group could buy banner advertisements warning about piracy when a user is looking at software, but the auction site declined, Kupferschmid added. "We shouldn't have to do that," he said. "EBay should do that themselves."

Two eBay spokespeople didn't immediately respond to a request for comments on SIIA's position.

Background

The lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, are the largest round the SIIA has filed since launching its auction-site antipiracy program two years ago, the trade group said in a news release. Seven of the lawsuits were filed Wednesday, the SIIA said. Two others were filed two weeks ago. Most of the lawsuits target eBay sellers of Abobe PhotoShop CS3; one of the lawsuits targets a seller of several Symantec software packages.

The defendants are from Texas, California, Washington state, Illinois and New Jersey.

"SIIA has declared war against those who continue to sell pirated software on auction sites such as eBay," Kupferschmid said. "Our goal is to give illegal software sellers a rude awakening, so that unsuspecting software buyers and legitimate sellers are protected. For too long, auction sellers have been able to sell pirated software while risking only the removal of their auction."

Since launching its Auction Litigation Program about two years ago, SIIA has filed about 20 lawsuits, not including the nine from the last two weeks, Kupferschmid said. The SIIA has won about six of those lawsuits in court, but in every case, the lawsuits have resulted in the seller stopping unauthorized sales of software, he said.

"Ultimately, they have stopped selling the illegal software, and that's what we're trying to do here," he said.

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