Tue, May. 09, 2006

Ebay Offer is Promotion

HG - Washington.   An offer by a seller at an Internet auction is advertising, the Cologne Court of Appeals decided on November 23, 2005 in the matter 28 S 6/05, published May 2, 2006 at www.recht-in.de.

The plaintiff had listed a software program that circumvented copy protection mechanisms of CDs. Before the auction ended, he withdrew the offer. Then he received a cease and desist letter from the defendants, eight record companies, to refrain from such sales. The focus of the dispute was whether the plaintiff violated §95a of the Copyright Act, Urheberrechtsgesetz and owed damages.

§95a, as amended in September 2003, prohibits the sale and promotion of such programs. A definition of advertising exists only in an European Union directive and relates to commercial expression for the promotion of sales. The Court ruled that private advertising is sufficient for copyright purposes, although it failed to explain why an auction listing supports a sale. By deeming plaintiff's activities advertising, the Court found a violation of §95a to have occurred.

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