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eBay Issues New Digital Product Rules

Acknowledging higher demand for digitally delivered products, Mara Holian, from eBay's Product Marketing team said that eBay is tightening the rules for egoods in an effort to "improve the way these items are bought and sold on eBay". Sellers will now be required to identify digital items during the listing process and provide additional information about each product. Listings for digital products will now include: *System Requirements. *File Size.

*File Format. *Details about any additional software that may be required to use the digital product, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader for .pdf files. I know what you're thinking: "Shouldn't the listings already contain this info?" Of course. But, have you ever browsed auctions for an ebook? Some sellers in fact, do not make this basic information prominent in their listings. Buyers will now find the relevant info in the same place and format in every listing, instead of it being scattered about or omitted altogether.

According to eBay's site, sellers of digital goods are now required to use a "PayPal Verified Premier" or "Verified Business" account or eBay's "Checkout Redirect functionality" in order to collect payments. Does this mean that you can't sell digital products unless you use PayPal or set up complicated software using eBay's API? Probably not. Third-party services may still be an option.

An inquiry to one of the largest auction checkout & payment services, Andale, was not immediately answered. But they, and others, are likely to make updates which include this new, required functionality. eBay also said that buyers will no longer see "unnecessary information, such as shipping costs". Which leads one to believe that the days of a 99 cent ebook with $12 in "shipping and handling" charges are gone. Some sellers have been known to list digital items with unnecessary charges like these, and many buyers, in their enthusiasm to purchase one of these products, overlook these fees only to be disappointed upon checkout.

In addition, sellers will now be required to state that they are "legally authorized" to sell the product. Research shows that everything downloadable: ebooks, mp3 songs, whole music CDs, even movies, are being offered as illegal downloads via online auction services. While the legitimate online auction marketplaces police these types of listings and remove them promptly when they are reported or noticed, occasionally an item may slip through leaving those involved open to legal action by the copyright owner. So, will eBay's new policy have the effect of eliminating piracy on the auction site? Don't bet the farm.

Often, sellers mistakenly believe that they have purchased "resale rights" to the digital products they're offering for sale. So naturally, they will agree that they have the "legal" authority to re-sell the product. Many egoods do not contain a copyright notice or resale agreement. An inexperienced or hasty ebook publisher may unintentionally omit the information or a "pirate" may have removed or edited the author's copyright/resale notice.

While the new guidelines are certainly not a foolproof solution to digital piracy, eBay should be commended for taking a step in the right direction. For more information on eBay's new digital goods requirements, see: http://pages.ebay.com/choosingformats/digitalitems/faqs/.

Mike Nalbone is the publisher of "The Essential eBay Seller's Guide" which is a FREE, complete e-course that gives those who wish to sell successfully on eBay a great head-start. For more information, or to sign-up, visit: http://www.thewholesaledetective.com/ecourse.html

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