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Scientology Given Direct Access To eBay Database

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the finger-on-the-scale dept.

Censorship 684

An anonymous reader writes "The Church of Scientology can delete auctions from eBay with no supervision under the VeRO program, and has used this to delete all resale of the e-meters Scientologists use. This is to stop members from buying used units from ex-members instead of buying from the official (and very expensive) source. Given Scientology's record of fraud and abuse, should eBay give them this level of trust? Will this set a precedent for other companies that want to stop the aftermarket resale of their products?"

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Don't tell Chef but (4, Informative)

qw(name) (718245) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478940)

Just go to Radio Shack and buy an ohmmeter. They're a lot cheaper.

Re:Don't tell Chef but (4, Funny)

rishistar (662278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479038)

But I'm Hindu you insensitive clod! I have to use an Aum [wikipedia.org] -meter for my religious measurements!

Re:Don't tell Chef but (1, Informative)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479104)

Well, you have to buy a pair of tin cans to put on 'em.

Actually, there's a couple other things involved, from what I understand--there's a coarse and fine adjustment for the resistances. While the alleged 'science' behind using it for some kind of invisible alien ghost detection is kinda bogus, it would be useful for, say, testing a batch of resistors for variances--you could adjust the tolerances as required, and so long as the needle stayed on-scale, your resistor would be acceptable for the value in question.

I think I've heard of this access before though...haven't they had it for a while?

Definitely abusive, and I definitely won't be going anywhere near eBay for the forseeable future.

Re:Don't tell Chef but (5, Funny)

thanksforthecrabs (1037698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479338)

Does this mean my "What Would Xenu Do?" t-shirt isn't legal?

Head Shops & E-Meters (1)

milsoRgen (1016505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479354)

The real question is, since when does your religious paraphernalia need to be be plugged into the wall?

"In The Year 2000... In The Year 2000..."

Re:Head Shops & E-Meters (5, Funny)

Hillgiant (916436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479470)

Erm, excuse me. What does God need with a starship?

Re:Don't tell Chef but (1)

swb311 (1165753) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479372)

a MEGA-ohmmeter. Or even a Hi-Pot.

short answer (4, Insightful)

Romancer (19668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478942)

Short answer, no.

This is favoritism. Microsoft doesn't even have this ability to stop the resale of their software.

Re:short answer (5, Interesting)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478982)

It isn't even favoritism, it's outright stupid given CoS' past abuses.

Re:short answer (5, Interesting)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479060)

It's outright stupid, period. Why does ebay give this power to anyone? What do they possibly stand to gain from it? And how on earth does the CoS, or anyone, restrict after-market resale of their products? It's called the free market and it's America. Licensing software is one thing, but a physical object? What ?

Re:short answer (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479146)

What do they possibly stand to gain from it?
Maybe Co$ has a bunch of dirt dug up on ebay leadership thanks to Fair Game. After all, it's about always attacking, never defending.

Re:short answer (5, Informative)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479198)

eBay explains here [ebay.com] why they do it. I would guess that it's easier for them(read: costs less money) to simply let the companies do the work of deleting auctions, rather than have the company call or email eBay every time they want something taken down.

I especially love their section on how things won't be mistakenly removed:

How eBay helps to ensure that listings aren't mistakenly removed. A rights owner reporting through VeRO must be registered through VeRO before reporting items to us. Rights owners sign legally binding documents when reporting items to eBay.
Ooooh! Legal binding documents, I feel so safe.

My guess is... (4, Informative)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479324)

It's probably cheaper for Ebay to simply acquiesce to the CoS demands than to meet them in court. Even if they win, they may never see their legal fees recovered. There is less risk involved in giving in, too: they loose almost nothing if they yank the items, but could potentially lose a fortune if they don't.

The Scientologists are just that scary.

Re:short answer (4, Interesting)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479332)

Filing a Copyright Counter Notice. For listings that have been removed at the request of the rights owner for copyright infringement, you may have the option of filing a Counter Notice with eBay if you feel that your listings were removed in error and you have not been able to come to an agreement with the rights owner.

A Counter Notice is a form provided by eBay in compliance with the requirements of the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The form is a legal document that requires you to, among other things, certify under sworn penalty of perjury that your listings were not infringing and were removed by mistake or misidentification. When you sign a Counter Notice, you will also have to consent to federal jurisdiction and service of process. Please read this form carefully, so you fully understand what you agree to if you choose to submit it to eBay.

Once a valid Counter Notice is submitted, eBay will provide a copy of the notice to the reporting party and will advise them that the listings will be reinstated after 10 business days if we do not hear from the reporting party that they have filed an action seeking a court order to restrain you from re-listing the items.
This part is interesting. Assuming eBay doesn't just file 13 these counterclaim notices, I wonder which way a Federal court would rule on it? I don't see where they have legal grounds for a copyright case on a hardware device that you're just reselling. I'm not sure many people want to deal with the CoS lawyers long enough to find out though.

Re:short answer (0)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479246)

I could certainly understand if:

1) Group X could prove that anyone sellying Item Y was under contract not to resell it.
2) Ebay could be exposed to liability for facilitating sale of items known to be violating a contract.
3) Group X paid for the right to suspend auctions and would pay a penalty for false positives (items not related to what Group X was objecting to).
4) Group X considers Ys to be sacred and does not like when they are held by the general public, and makes users sign contracts not to do that and to pay a penality if they do.

Then, I could have a good answer to all your questions (X = Church of Scientology, Y = e-meter). No, the free market does not support violation of contracts you have made.

Now, is the CoS paying for this? I don't know. But I can certainly see how this could be reasonable.

Re:short answer (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479180)

It isn't even favoritism, it's outright stupid given CoS' past abuses.
It makes you wonder what eBay has to gain from this. What's their connection to Scientology? Is Pierre Omidyar a member?

Re:short answer (5, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479290)

You know, I simply don't understand why the government lets $cientology have its cake and eat it too. If they're a religion, then they shouldn't be afforded all these civil protections. I'm not going to get sued by my local Catholic Diocese if I print nasty bits from the Bible or some part of the latest Papal encyclical.

I think the government should give $cientology a choice; either be a religion, in which case you can't sue, you can't seek special favors from companies over the resale of your products, and so forth, or you're not a religion, and you're a business, in which case you've got to pay taxes on moneys or products changing hands.

And in either case, their lawyers should be disbarred for multiple cases of malicious prosecution.

Or, in short form, FUCK $CIENTOLOGY.

Re:short answer (1, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479414)

I'm not going to get sued by my local Catholic Diocese if I print nasty bits from the Bible or some part of the latest Papal encyclical.

Different religions have different takes on things.
Sure you won't get sued, you may however get imprisoned, lashed, deported or worse for naming a teddy bear or drawing a cartoon.

Is this legal? (5, Insightful)

obstalesgone (1231810) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478946)

Is it, in general, legal to allow a vendor to prevent the resale of their product? I don't understand why this would be considered beneficial to society or why it wouldn't be considered monopolistic.

Of course, I'm no lawyer, but I've heard that everyone on Slashdot is.

Re:Is this legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479066)

It IS leagal for E-Bay to operate as it sees fit. This is not a censorship or monopoly concern, it is E-Bay operating the business how they want. It would seem that pissing off a few E-Bay customers is better than fending off lawsuits all the time. Even a baseless lawsuit takes company resources from more useful pursuits.

this = Scientology (5, Interesting)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479078)

Though the fraud claim will probably lead to slashdot getting sued, Germany http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2007/12/08/scientology_facing_ban_in_germany/5643/ [upi.com] and several other countries have taken steps to limit scientology within their borders. While many might seek to compare this to the actions of many Islamist states, scientology's claims often involve situations that fall under racketeering laws not aspects of religious freedom.

Re:Is this legal? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479084)

I'm an eBay PowerSeller, and I can tell you that it's rampant. eBay's "VeRO" program is regularly abused by liars who have no right to interfere in aftermarket sales of their products, gambling on the fact that you won't file in federal court to contest their "good faith" declarations.

Re:Is this legal? (5, Interesting)

Romancer (19668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479102)

Preventing the resale is one thing, direct access to a market is unprecidented. Since scientology doesn't actually own these devices any longer and ebay has given then direct access to removing these devices from private sale this is definatly a step over the line.

Imagine if the makers of the other products out there followed suit. You would not be able to purchase second hand goods. Only directly from the original outlet. Kinda stifles the economy since the majority of vehicles out there are purchased as used items. Just one example but it would have a very bad impact if this method of controlling profit spreads.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

vwjeff (709903) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479304)

Imagine if Cisco tried to pull something like this on eBay. Or how about Ford or GM? If members rent the devices and don't return them that is one issue. The CoS will get away with this because they are considered a "religion." A money grabbing cult is a better description.

Re:Is this legal? (2, Informative)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479316)

Other companies have come before [ebay.com] SoC.

a Partial list [ebay.com]

Re:Is this legal? (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479434)

Imagine if the makers of the other products out there followed suit. You would not be able to purchase second hand goods.

And it would kill a significant part of Ebay's revenue.

If the program is ever abused to the extent you suggest, Ebay would probably stop the VeRo program. Or at least introduce a process to complain about unjustified removals, and then kick those companies from VeRo who abuse the system too much.

I'm not sure if that would help against Scientology, as e-meters probably make up not much of Ebay's revenues. But if Dell, for example, would try to stop all sales of used Dell computers, I'm sure they would not last long in the VeRo program.

It's Definitely a Monopoly (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479286)

I offer a lower priced eldavojohn branded E-Meter for scientologists looking to test themselves with the judgmental grand inquisitor present. It comes complete with car battery and nipple clamps!

And yet, the scientologists claim that this E-Meter is useless by itself, you need someone trained to interpret it. How convenient and yet they restrict its sale. If it's useless to the untrained, why do they stop sales of it?

Re:It's Definitely a Monopoly (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479424)

DA: If you allow the sale of a device that requires training to the untrained, they may misinterpret the results and cause themselves eternal harm by not joining the right religion on the false basis of a misinterpreted result. By preventing access to these devices except by qualified professionals, they prevent people from causing themselves irreparable eternal harm.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

Floritard (1058660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479344)

Of course, I'm no lawyer, but I've heard that everyone on Slashdot is.
Pfff, OMGWTF. FYI, IANAL!

Re:Is this legal? (0, Troll)

Arthur B. (806360) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479352)

I guess they don't sell it but lease if for perpetuity for a fixed fee. Same with some cable decoders I think. It's perfectly fine that the Scientology prevents its member from reselling the stuff. As for ebay, should they abuse the power, their would be probably be a complaint and they'd be in serious trouble. Much a do about nothing. For the record, the scientologist are a bunch of manipulative people with crazy ideas. They feed on stupidity which is fairly abundant.

Re:Is this legal? (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479362)

I agree that a vendor of IP or software related products could prevent the resale of their product. After all whats to stop me from making a copy and then reselling those to make me profit. (I'll abstain from getting into a discussion of DRM)

But for a physical product anyone should have the ability to resell it. I cant very well make a copy of an E-Meter, or other physical item without expending work and effort on my end. (Until they invent replicators)

It also sets a bad presence.
What if publishes of books want it to be illegal to resale books? Those college text books you bought at such a high premium, could not be resold and recover a few dollars; or all those book reselling stores / sites would go out of business. Its been years since I bought a book new.
What if manufacturers made reselling vehicles illegal, think of all those used car salesmen that would loose their jobs and then who would we have to make fun of?
What about houses?

What will Anonymous do? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22478948)

Seems to me that given the recent Project Chanology protests against Scientology, this would be the perfect time for Anonymous to organize a massive boycott of eBay. Or worse, expand their DOS and hack attacks to include eBay, since they're cooperating with the CoS.

Posting this AC because, frankly, I don't want anybody to think I'm advocating this. I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised if it happened.

Re:What will Anonymous do? (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479112)

Ebay? Far too large a target. It would be like boycotting youtube.. their normal traffic fluctuation would completely mask even the most massive internet boycott ever mustered.

Re:What will Anonymous do? (3, Interesting)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479256)

I'm sure they could think of some creative ways to mess with eBay.

Mass false bidding on auctions or the like. Not to give suggestions or anything, but they could start sniping auction with fake accounts and never pay. Doing it on a large enough scale could affect eBay's bottom line. They could start spamming people with emails about how eBay is going broke. I'm sure there's plenty of other things I'm not even thinking about that they could do.

Re:What will Anonymous do? (2, Interesting)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479322)

You're not thinking rationally. Were Anonymous to DOS eBay, they would make a one-day severe dent in eBay's profitability. eBay would have a tarnished reputation (worse than it already is tarnished) and Anonymous, having nothing better to do, would just use every proxy available to keep up the DOS for as long as they please with little fear of being found, while everyone cheers them on. Anonymous may consist of mainly pedos and trolls, but there are the few that know their business and can bring most any online company to their knees with a botnet or two, and there are plenty of spin doctors amongst the Anonymous. When they say they are Legion, they're not fucking joking. Ten million requests at once will bring almost ANY server without load management to it's knees, and last I tried a DOS on eBay for fucking with my mother's account, it only took a mere 5,000 simulataneous requests every ten seconds to DOS them. Imagine ten million browser tabs with auto-reload set using proxy connections. Yea, huge DOS.

Re:What will Anonymous do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479388)

DOS loses, bantown would just hack them easily

how direct an access is what bother me more (3, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478952)

It could be just the media frenzy making a bigger deal of isolated incidents than the real deal is, but it seems like the group is both paranoid and vindictive. I am more worried about them trying to use this as an opportunity to supress criticism than to use it to supress second hand resales. Although why one shouldn't be able to resell one's physical property in a free contry is beyond me.

Re:how direct an access is what bother me more (2, Insightful)

AoT (107216) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479126)

Given that the Church of Scientology isn't on the list [ebay.com] of VeRO about me pages, the whole thing seems really, really iffy.

Re:how direct an access is what bother me more (4, Informative)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479214)

At the top of that page:

This list of rights owners DOES NOT include all rights owners that report through the VeRO Program. These are the rights owners that have chosen to post About Me pages. Many other rights owners have chosen not to maintain an About Me page.

Re:how direct an access is what bother me more (1)

vjmurphy (190266) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479476)

Though it seems logical that eBay should force all VeRO Program users to have an About Me page with information on what the criteria is for delisting. Otherwise, you don't know what you can't sell, it seems. Known unknowns and all that.

Re:how direct an access is what bother me more (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479296)

But, take a look at this:

This list of rights owners DOES NOT include all rights owners that report through the VeRO Program. These are the rights owners that have chosen to post About Me pages. Many other rights owners have chosen not to maintain an About Me page.

Re:how direct an access is what bother me more (1)

alannon (54117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479306)

From the page you linked to:

This list of rights owners DOES NOT include all rights owners that report through the VeRO Program. These are the rights owners that have chosen to post About Me pages. Many other rights owners have chosen not to maintain an About Me page.

do they also have access to customer info? (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478954)

Do they just have the ability to delete sales, or do they also have access to the details of who's been bidding, selling, and buying?

Yet another reason to not use EBay or PayPal.

Re:do they also have access to customer info? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479160)

Hmm I wonder if they have access to my address, birth date, CC number etc. That would be kind of scary.

Re:do they also have access to customer info? (0)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479394)

Yes.

Now hold down the A and semi-colon keys. We now have a e-Reading. Sorry.

Curious (4, Interesting)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478966)

Who knew the NSA is the least the vast conspiracy-minded unwashed have to fear.

I wonder who at eBay is high up the kook-chain in Scientology?

Re:Curious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479170)

Very good point. After all, if you have purchased the object, not leased it, you own it and can do what you want with it, as long as it's legal, because it's yours!

I agree with you questioning of whether Ebay has been infiltrated by Scientology. After all, with the legal attacks by RIA and MPAA they'd have been on better legal and business relationship footing to have given RIA and MPAA ability to delete music and movie CD and DVD sales.

Maybe I better get some tinfoil ready just in case, but this really does look like Scientology has somebody in Ebay by the short hairs.

Re:Curious (4, Informative)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479270)

Well, if you RTFA, it has nothing to do with insider knowledge. Instead:

"The mechanism that permits the Church of Scientology (and others) such broad access and discretion is called the Verified Rights Owner ("VeRO") Program. Membership in VeRO is obtained simply by submitting a form to eBay explaining that you are an Intellectual Property rights holder. ... It should come as little surprise that VeRO members routinely overreach, as the cost of challenging a listing removal is almost always prohibitive. ... The VeRO Program makes a great deal of sense for some types of listings -- counterfeit Rolexes and Gucci handbags appear on eBay with such frequent regularity that those companies would be hard pressed to handle these trademark violations any other way."

eBay has more info about their VeRO program [ebay.com] .

Basically, the original summary is misleading: lots of companies (e.g. copyright/trademark holders) have access to directly delete auctions on eBay. The Slyentologists are only one of many (but they're fun to pick on!).

easy answer -or- +5 insightful (1, Insightful)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478968)

"Given Scientology's record of fraud and abuse, should eBay give them this level of trust?"

No.

Re:easy answer -or- +5 insightful (5, Informative)

Wuhao (471511) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479172)

If that's "+5 Insightful" around here these day, then I want a piece of the action: 1 + 1 = 2. This profound result is equally surprising.

Re:easy answer -or- +5 insightful (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479268)

easy answer -or- +5 insightful (Score:5, Insightful)


Like it or not, he called it.

-1, Redundant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479212)

It was obviously a rhetorical question. That's why the answer was easy. That's how rhetorical questions work.

Re:easy answer -or- +5 insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479240)

Thanks for your thorough and well-argued comment. As an exercise, I've decided to take the opposing point of view in this debate. So here goes:

Yes.

Re:easy answer -or- +5 insightful (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479242)

Well, as far as USA is concerned Scientology is recognised as a religion and its supposed financial and other crimes have never been proven in a court of law. Why, who, what is a different story.

There are other countries where Scientology status is very different. In these countries such level of cooperation with the Church of Scientology is bound to raise some eybrows in law enforcement.

So if you do not like this arrangement I suggest you find someone with a fluent French, German or Russian and draft a suitable letter to their equivalents of serious fraud or organised crime police divisions. Frankly, I do not envy eBay local divisions in these countries from this point onwards. They are on financial crime division hate list in most non-English speaking countries anyway, and this may end up being the proverbial pebble that will tip the proverbial cart.

Time to boycott eBay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22478990)

'nuff said

does this work for every producer (4, Interesting)

PrinceAshitaka (562972) | more than 6 years ago | (#22478992)

If I am the manufaturer of a widgit, what do I have to do to gain access to Ebay to delete whatever auctions I want? Do I just have to write in the EULA that I have this right and then go onto Ebay and delete the auctions of competitors.

TAG IT: THENEWMAFIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479000)

That's what scientology is.

Just another religion to toss on the pyre! (0, Offtopic)

zenlessyank (748553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479018)

On your knees and beg forgiveness for your sins. Those who mislead will have 10,000 fold the punishment due!!

F-meter (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479034)

I think their membership is ready for an F-meter which indicates just how much they are being fucked over by their own church.

Re:F-meter (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479238)

They already do for $40,000, and if you try to resell it you have to buy another 9 of them to keep your membership.

Uh, what? (5, Insightful)

ack154 (591432) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479050)

I was under the impression this was exactly the kind of reason eBay existed. "hey, i don't use this junk anymore, what'll you give me for it?" If the "church" was really given this kind of power, that's just not right.

Perhaps if they wanted to curb the resale of their devices, they should offer some sort of buy back program? They'll still turn around and sell them again and make a profit.

Off topic, yet... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479074)

"Shawn Lonsdale, whose one-man crusade against Scientology made him a public enemy of the church, was found dead at his home over the weekend in an apparent suicide. He was 39."

http://www.xenu-directory.net/critics/lonsdale1.html [xenu-directory.net]

That's pretty sad.

Re:Off topic, yet... (1, Funny)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479252)

A very sad story, indeed. It also spooked me out a bit, that guy has the same street address as my own...

Double paranoia calls for doubly thick tin foil. I heard I can pick some up on eBay...

Re:Off topic, yet... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479406)

So, which one [google.com] are you?

mod parent up (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479458)

This is important and it is relevant to the main story, because Co$ victims are often first thought to have committed suicide. There is a direct link between the main story and this news. Co$ is a dangerous cult.

violation of interstate commerce? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479082)

law people want to comment

*Comment deleted* (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479086)

[This comment violated the TOS from the Cult of Scientology. (tm)]

Anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479094)

That's it, where do I sign up for Anonymous? Wait.. I'm already Anonymous. Cool... let's storm the gates of Scientology and get those coveted e-meters that everyone simply has to have because... well... we don't have enough useless gizmos.

bordering on illegal (2, Insightful)

mehtars (655511) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479116)

This action of preventing the resale of a product is illegal--- once I buy a device, I am free to resell it. For example an auto maker cannot force me not to resell a car.

Ah, one more good reason... (3, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479118)

...to stop using eBay to sell your used stuff.

Anything for Tom (5, Funny)

sweetser (148397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479128)

It is a privilege to do everything in our power for Tom. This crap is so valuable, you should pay a lot to prove you are a sucker.

I'm torn... (2, Interesting)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479140)

Part of me feels bad because this just sounds so wrong on so many levels and these people should be able to sell that garbage. Quite honestly I'm going to argue that the Church of Scientology is not environmentally friendly if they're going to force people to buy new and not ever get used. If they can't sell this stuff used it's going to end up in the garbage.

The other part of me can't help but laugh hysterically that these people actually bought in to Scientology in the first place.

Re:I'm torn... (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479278)

Not mutually exclusive... you CAN feel bad and LAUGH hysterically. It kinda hurts tho (*ow*)

Thats it! (4, Interesting)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479158)

I will not work with ANY company that works with those evil *deleted*. I will no longer use e-bay or paypal. they want my business back, go neutral or allow all religious groups to delete auctions.

What fraud and abuse? (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479190)

This post is way to subjective.

Re:What fraud and abuse? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479380)

subjective?

Scientology is to fraud and abuse as Microsoft is to monopolistic practices

Both have been convicted in a court of law.

indulgences (5, Funny)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479202)

Hopefully the Catholics won't find out I've been reselling my indulgences too!

VERO Program (3, Informative)

dcollins (135727) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479220)

It's pretty obvious from the early comments that not many people RTFA. (Comments like, "I wonder who at eBay is high up the kook-chain in Scientology?" and all that.) This is an established EBay program called VERO that Scientology has joined, like a bunch of other manufacturers, and (big surprise) happens to be abusing.

The mechanism that permits the Church of Scientology (and others) such broad access and discretion is called the Verified Rights Owner ("VeRO") Program. Membership in VeRO is obtained simply by submitting a form to eBay explaining that you are an Intellectual Property rights holder.

It should come as little surprise that VeRO members routinely overreach, as the cost of challenging a listing removal is almost always prohibitive. (See my paper on this subject here, and see the brave husband and wife exception to this rule here.) The VeRO Program makes a great deal of sense for some types of listings--counterfeit Rolexes and Gucci handbags appear on eBay with such frequent regularity that those companies would be hard pressed to handle these trademark violations any other way.

Re:VERO Program (4, Insightful)

Beau6183 (899597) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479410)

FTFA:

But Bill's e-meters (and the e-meters other ex-Scientologists have attempted to sell on eBay) are not counterfeits and do not violate the Church of Scientology's trademarks, patents, or copyrights.


In any case, it's a lazy way for EBay to enforce rights compliance.

Similarly, Mormon garments are another item that seem to take advantage of this program, so it's not exactly unheard of. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_garment/ [wikipedia.org]

Can they use this to strike at critics? (1)

adameros (851468) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479222)

If someone is critical of CoS, do they now have the power to stop those people from selling and buying on eBay as a way of getting back at critics?

Ebay is right on schedule (4, Insightful)

MECC (8478) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479224)

If what they want is to put an end to their online existence. Giving CoS carte blanc to delete auctions is worse that putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Was Ebay, presumable savvy to how the Internet works, thinking nobody would notice this? What kind of drugs do you have to take to get that delusional?

Re:Ebay is right on schedule (1)

WolfTheWerewolf (84066) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479422)

> "What kind of drugs do you have to take to get that delusional?"

Dianetics et al, apparently.

Wonderful (2, Funny)

LittleGuy (267282) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479250)

Now where am I going to go to resell my Top Gun action figures or my White Tony Manuro Disco Suit?

to hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479292)

... with "Boycott EBay day"... now its time for "Sell your E-Meter on EBay day!"

The cat is out of the bag anyway (4, Interesting)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479300)

A quick google for "e-meter schematic" reveals about 1200 pages. The first few that I checked have the circuit diagram for the e-meter, often directly drawn from L. Ron Hubbard's 1966 patent.

For those who can't figure out the diagram, it's basically a Wheatstone bridge with a simple (crappy) differential amplifier. It's the sort of thing anyone could build from pennies worth of components.

Too Late. (1)

KarmaOverDogma (681451) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479320)

"Will this set a precedent for other companies that want to stop the aftermarket resale of their products?"

It's already been happening. eBay is huge. It has slowly evolved/mutated over time, partially as a result of being pwned by entities with big money. This is just another example of why people do use other on-line auction houses (and should use them more).

I Wondered Why... (1)

gsmalleus (886346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479340)

I wondered why I couldn't find any Xenu [ebay.com] or Anti-Scientology [ebay.com] items on ebay.

EBay's to Blame (1)

thegdorf (1222548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479346)

Precisely no one should be surprised that the CoS is engaging in this behaviour. What disturbs me is that EBay doesn't monitor the actions of its VeRO partners far more closely. Given the power that they bestow on them, EBay must put some type of oversight into place. Allowing their partners to excise auctions however they please without concern that they may overstep their bounds (and possibly lose their privileged status) is a horrendous feature of the program. As many have said, "I'm no lawyer", but in addition to the tortious nature of CoS's actions, I suspect that such lax oversight could find EBay guilty of negligence as well. Any thoughts?

tag as "badsummary" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479356)

This should be tagged as "badsummary".. TFA does not mention that anyone has access to the live DB in the sense of being able to issue SQL statements or so, just that ebay has decided to not moderate what scientology complains about. Of course that's bad enough, but it's not what the summary says.

This is perfectly legal (4, Interesting)

arkham6 (24514) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479368)

The government is not stopping sale of e-meters, and eBay, as a private vendor, can fully decide what and what not can be sold on their site. If they choose not to allow sale of e-meters, then thats their prerogative.

The CoS is not doing anything illegal either, since they are acting now as an agent of E bay.

But I think a much better question is, what did scientology do to eBay to get them to agree to this?

Bart Simpson says YES (0, Offtopic)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479370)

(His actor is a dedicated Scientologist.)

$3700 Wheatstone bridges? (3, Funny)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479382)

Actually, Co$ could probably be sued for false advertising.

The name of the product is the "Mark VIII Super Quantum E-meter". A Wheatstone bridge, however, works on completely classical principles.

Or maybe resistance is quantized, with one quantum of resistance being equal to the extra resistance from one extra thetan hanging around?

Suicidal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22479390)

It's suicidal for any company to screw their real customers, who use, pay for their services over some third party, which is trying to establish some form of "censorship".

eBay is big but there are more than enough auction sites to fill in for customers where they eBay fails to deliver for them.

a bit misleading (3, Informative)

qw0ntum (831414) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479392)

The summary and title are a bit misleading. The CoS is removing listings using the VeRO [ebay.com] program, not getting "direct DB access" as is claimed. Still blatant abuse of the program, so their actions are definitely NOT defensible.

Interestingly people who are targeted by this can file a DMCA counter claim and bring the issue into the court system. I hope this guy does that - maybe some of the CoS's practices can finally see the light of day.

Is it just me, or... (2, Interesting)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479404)

is there rather a lot of anti-Scientology stuff here recently?

Interestingly, I don't see a lot - make that *any* pro-posts either. Surely somewhere in the vast /. userbase there must be some of L. Ron's acolytes. Plenty of science and SciFci fans here.

C'mon boys, stand up for your faith!

Or is that forbidden too?

Under what legal authority? (3, Interesting)

PseudoLogic (863516) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479420)

From the "E-Meter" wikipedia link in the summary: "In 1958 when Scientologists Don Breeding and Joe Wallis developed a modified, smaller battery-operated version, which they presented to Hubbard, he again used it. This was christened the Hubbard electrometer. Hubbard patented it on December 6, 1966, as a "Device for Measuring and Indicating Changes in the Resistance of a Human Body" (U.S. Patent 3,290,589 ). The patent is now expired and in the public domain. The Church of Scientology continues to make, sell, and teach its use in auditing." So if the E-Meter is in the public domain, how can they control who resells them?

It's just CoS being CoS (2, Insightful)

realmolo (574068) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479444)

According to the article, the Church of Scientology basically has no legal leg to stand on. Of course, who is going to take them to court? eBay surely doesn't care. And what about the people who are trying to buy used "e-meters"? Well, they are almost surely *Scientologists*! And we all know how the CoS feels about members that get out-of-line. I imagine that if the CoS *ever* caught one of their members buying a used e-meter, they'd make their lives hell.

. So, really, no harm done all-around, I say.

Well as far (1)

Vexor (947598) | more than 6 years ago | (#22479478)

as access to eBay goes. I think this would be a great step for online games companies (ie Blizzard, Funcom, Sony) to stop RMT for their digital products. Granted much of the market is on individual company sites and not eBay but I see character auctions for MMOs listed there fairly often. For the CoS: My religion thinks item _____ is bad *auction deleted*
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