October 24, 2002

I TOLD YOU SO: Record-company copyright enforcers are making it impossible for musicians to sell their own music on eBay:

Less than three weeks after he started his first auction, Ziemann received the first of what would become an endless string of notes -- sometimes from actual staff members, but more often in the form of auto-response e-mails -- telling him his auction had been shuttered because somebody had fingered him as a thief.

Over the next month, he tried to find out who had fingered him and what he could do to get his auction back up. The constant back and forth eventually soured Ziemann -- who runs a website and retail service from his home -- on eBay altogether.

"We no longer have any interest in selling our product there. Ever," Ziemann wrote in an e-mail.

With media companies upping their online enforcement of copyright law, cases of mistaken identity like Ziemann's could be on the rise. Again, eBay would not comment on its policing policy, but several companies scour the Internet looking for copyrighted materials.

I wrote about mistaken enforcement efforts here, -- but the important point is that from the record industry's viewpoint, this sort of thing isn't a bug -- it's a feature. This is all about closing down alternative channels of distribution, not about protecting intellectual property.

UPDATE: And read this, too. It argues that independent musicians are actually being targeted for this sort of thing.