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Online auction sites poorly policed

EU auction sites not as safe as houses

Auction website eBay's US arm has begun monitoring lots for possible copyright infringements.

Dozens of items a day have been removed from the site, including software, music and videos.

But the same policies are not active in the UK. This issue was not resolved by the European Commission’s recent copyright law change.

“It makes eminent sense that auction sites [in the UK] follow the same guidelines [as those in the US].” said Geoff Webster, head of the Federation Against Software Theft.

Webster said all UK auction sites should be policing their sites for illegal goods. “The sites are leaving their customers open to many things [if they are not policed], including pirated software,” he said.

The UK eBay site checks the reputation of all sellers on the site and offers customers a refund of up to £120, according to the spokesperson. It also runs a safety team. But it does not employ a team to stop fraud happening in the first place.

Not all auction sites are so laissez faire about this issue. QXL, for example, has been policing its site for items that may infringe copyrights since 1997.

“[In the US] eBay has just started doing what we’ve been doing for years,” said OXL's Annabel Dangerfield. “[Sites] need to work closely with manufacturers to wipe out pirating.”

Despite tighter EC copyright laws, the companies themselves are not liable for the sale of any illegal items on its site.

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