I suddenly wondered what on earth I was doing here: a VeRO seminar at nine in the morning? I must have been crazy. And then it turned out to be rather interesting. Yeah, I know. Freak. 😀
Because I’m a seller, who hangs around eBay seller boards and reads problems that other sellers have, I tend to think of the biggest problem with VeRO being the fake complaints, the non-communicative rights owners and the general powerlessness of sellers: I tend to think that VeRO does too much. So it was interesting to meet a group of people who think that VeRO does too little, from the MP3 player manufacturer who can’t stop Chinese fakers ripping off his designs, to the stamp collectors who can’t get serial counterfeiters thrown off the site.
The message from the eBay staff wasn’t, to be honest, anything that we haven’t heard before. Communication is key: talk to rights owners and to your suppliers, most people will work with you. But as was pointed out, rights owners don’t have to communicate, they don’t have to play nice, and if they want to threaten you with a lawsuit as part of their first communication, that’s up to them.
Equally, eBay are quite clear that they can’t adjudicate on the accuracy of the claim, so long as it’s properly legally framed. In other words, if people are prepared, under penalty of perjury, to swear falsely, that again is up to them.
More positively, eBay are working more widely with experts to try to authenticate items sold on the site. Their partnership with the American Philatelic Society to deal with stamp counterfeiters is being paralleled in other collectibles areas like stamps and antiques. eBay will also work to make feedback to those who report more transparent, though always with an eye to privacy issues: we haven’t seen the end of those “we can’t give you any more details about what we’ve done” emails just yet.
All in all, this was a more interesting session than I really expected it to be. I do at least understand the VeRO process in a little more detail, though I’m more aware than ever that it probably won’t ever please all of the people most of the time.