Here's an update on the mini-saga concerning the sale of e-meters on eBay. If you recall, I noticed that e-meter listings were being removed from the auction site. Ebay responded to my query that Scientology has complained under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) that the meters were "infringing". I think it's obvious that a piece of electronics cannot be copyrighted. But eBay is certainly following the safe course by removing the items upon complaint, putting the burden of cross-complaining on the owner of the meter. That's how DMCA is set up.
I have now received another email from eBay. Apparently somebody there has gotten the idea that I am an owner wishing to auction off an e-meter. I have never identified myself that way, just as a person interested in collecting Scientology memorabilia who might want to buy a meter some day.
Here is the new email.
-------------------------------------------------------- Hello, Thank you for your e-mail regarding the early removal of your auction.
As you know, eBay neither handles the auction items nor possesses sufficient information to make judgments regarding their legality or authorized nature. Accordingly, we rely upon receiving from Verified Rights Owners requests to end auctions which substantially comply with federal law. Your auction was ended because we received such a notice from Church of Scientology.
eBay values you as a member of the eBay community, and recognizes that on occasion an auction may be ended in error or due to misidentification. We have encouraged Verified Rights Owners to create their own "About Me" pages and be available to answer questions and clear up any errors or misunderstandings.
If you have not already done so, we encourage you to contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. If they agree that your auction item can be relisted, please have them contact us by e-mail to notify us, and we will allow it to be re-listed.
If you have made a good faith effort to resolve the situation with the rights owner, but have been unable to do so, you may contact us by replying to this email. If we are not able to help you resolve the situation, and still believe you have the legal right to list the item, you may file a legal Counter-Notice with us, the form for which we can e-mail to you, and we will send it to the complaining party. In the Counter-Notice you will be required to state under penalty of perjury that you have a good faith belief that the ended auction does not involve infringing materials and that it was taken down by mistake or due to misidentification.
If you request a counter notice from us, please specify the subject as "Counter-Notice Request" and include the item number and your user name in the e-mail. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
For more information about infringing items and eBay's VeRO Program, please visit:
http://pages.ebay.com/help/community/vero-program.html Regards, Harry eBay Customer Support ---------------------------------------------------------- I replied to "Harry" with two suggestions for improving the document referenced above.
1) Words to the effect that the reporting party verifies that the item is of printed or recorded nature, and is subject to copyright law in the first place.
2) Words to the effect that the reporting party verifies that the item was not purchased in good faith from the reporting party or its representatives. Purchased items may be copyrighted, but you can still re-sell a book without violating anybody's rights.
As for the front lines, there are at least two and possibly three meters for sale on eBay, none of which have not been removed.
http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=328119450 is a Mark V, the seller says from 1979. No cans, no power cord, for sale by a non-Scientologist, or at least somebody who doesn't claim to know what it's for or if it works. Nine bids so far, starting at $9.99, and now up to $43.02, which is about right for this model. Nice pictures on this if you've never seen an old wooden box Mark V.
http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=325349676 is a much different meter, a Mark 7. For sale along with a complete library of e-meter books, five sets of cans, power cord, the works. One bid at the starting price of $800. There is a reserve price, which is a secret higher price below which he doesn't have to sell the item. Very nice pictures with this listing also.
http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=329312280 is the oddball listing. It's listed as a set of e-meter books, but the opening price is $495, far in excess of what these books typically sell for. This seller has previous listed items for sale only to current Scientologists, but have altered their policy after eBay found them to be in violation of their policies on eligible buyers.
So now the wink and a nod description reads "Remember, you're bidding on the books only. In compliance with eBay policies, we can not offer e-meters for sale on eBay, nor can we offer them for free as a bonus. Any pictures of e-meters shown on this page are for reference & illustration only and are solely intended to show the purpose of the listed books. Our auctions are strictly in compliance with eBay rules." Despite the disclaimer, I think the pictured meter is the item actually for sale, in addition to the slight value of the books. It's an oval model, either a Mark 6 or 7 with case and cans.
The photo is actually pretty funny, with Helena Kobrin's face and the words "Me worry? I know Scientology!" Also a picture of "Mr. Hubbard's home in Creston, California, 1986." I'd have to think this is a former Scientologist.
So I think that either eBay or Helena has figured out that you can't copyright an e-meter. My bet is on eBay. Auctions are not being removed for now. And even if the removals start up again, some sellers may be able to circumvent the rules by bundling other items into the sale. Ebay will never know exactly what is shipped, as the two parties arrange the transfer by themselves in email.
Analysis of the situation aside, I'd like to see e-meters approved for sale on eBay. I know that zonies are not all satisfied with the meters built in the freezone, and CoS cans in particular are highly sought after. Recent ex-members seem to have unused meters for sale, and they can benefit from each other. I seem to recall that it is a requirement to buy not one, but two new meters to begin some solo levels. Perhaps others can comment on that aspect. If there is a buyer willing to pay, then hooray for the former member who is able to recover some of their cost.
Also, it's absurd that Scientology was able to interfere with auctions using DMCA. It's a bad law, easily abused, and Scientology will continue to be the biggest abuser, in auctions and on allegedly infringing web sites.
-- Rod Keller / email@example.com / Irresponsible Publisher Black Hat #1 / Expert of the Toilet / CWPD Mouthpiece / Killer Rod The Lerma Apologist / Merchant of Chaos / Vision of Destruction Bigot of Mystery / OSA Patsy / Quasi-Scieno / Mental Bully