eBay UK have announced that they are to from 6th April.
The sale, import and hire of replica samurai swords are to be outlawed in England and Wales. In a consultation paper published last year, Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said, “We recognise it is the cheap, easily available samurai swords which are being used in crime and not the genuine, more expensive samurai swords which are of interest to collectors and martial art enthusiasts. As such as we are putting forward exemptions for these groups.”
However, no such exemption is being offered to eBay sellers. As the announcement goes on, “While there are some exceptions to this general ban, we don’t think it’s practical to enforce a policy based on these. The sale of samurai swords on eBay.co.uk will therefore be completely prohibited when the new law comes into effect on 6th April.”
In many ways, this is an understandable reaction from eBay. They have neither the staff, the expertise nor the opportunity to judge whether a sword put up for auction is genuine or imitation, and the last thing they want to do is to encourage those selling replica weapons to label them as the real thing, just to get around this ban.
But no doubt genuine martial arts enthusiasts will feel hard done by with this latest ban, just as those who sell worthwhile material in a downloadable form are protesting against the ban on their goods, and just as sellers of genuine designer gear got caught in the anti-fakes crossfire last year. As eBay work to clean up the site, I don’t suppose these sellers will be the last victims of tightened-up policies on what can and cannot be sold on eBay.