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From the website...

eBay is the world's largest personal online trading community. eBay created a new market: efficient one-to-one trading in an auction format on the Web.

Individuals—not big businesses—use eBay to buy and sell items in more than 4,320 categories, including automobiles, collectibles, antiques, sports memorabilia, computers, toys, Beanie Babies, dolls, figures, coins, stamps, books, magazines, music, pottery, glass, photography, electronics, jewelry, gemstones, and much more. Users can find the unique and the interesting on eBay—everything from chintz china to chairs, teddy bears to trains, and furniture to figurines.


eBay was conceived initially as a result of a conversation between PierreOmidyar? and his wife, an avid Pez™ collector (she currently covets a collection of more than 400 dispensers). She commented to Pierre how great it would be if she were able to collect Pez dispensers and interact with other collectors over the Internet.

As an early Internet enthusiast, Pierre knew that people needed a central location to buy and sell unique items and to meet other users with similar interests. He started eBay to fulfill this need.

Pierre launched eBay on Labor Day in September 1995.

eBay is good to watch because it's on the frontier of web consumer business and it's big. I'd like to archive some definitive events in eBay's life here. -- SunirShah

eBay is currently involved in a number of "trespassing" lawsuits against MetaBrowsing companies spidering their servers, chiefly BiddersEdge?. eBay is using an old trespass law called trespass to chattels, that prevents foreign parties from trespassing or interfering with real property. Livestock then, servers now. Bidder's Edge currently makes 100 000 hits to eBay a day during off-peak hours. eBay claims Bidder's Edge is soaking up its bandwidth and processing time. However, Bidder's Edge has only used less than 2% of eBay's processing power at the maximum, not enough to cause harm. The real point is to prevent the dozens of future spiders that will overwhelm eBay's servers.

While the ruling probably won't go as far as to claim that a website can be afforded physical property, it will have far reaching effects, such as banning of search engines by default. Currently, most websites wish to be indexed and those that do not post a robots.txt (see RobotsExclusionStandard), but in the future sites will have the power to sue search engines that index them without permission.

The main reason eBay is taking this obscure tack is that it cannot protect the information in its database using copyright law. Facts cannot be copyrighted in the U.S. (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=499&invol=340"";)

Here are some relevant articles.

[31 July 2000 3:00 -0800] EBay Fights Spiders on the Web -- eBay acquires an injunction to stop Bidder's Edge from spidering its site. Quotes: "The injunction does not impact real-time searches in which one site queries another on behalf of a user, [JayMonahan?, eBay's lawyer,] said." (http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,37643,00.html"";)

[28 July 2000 3:00 -0800] Spammer Pays Up at EBay http://www.reverseaction.com was ordered to pay $1.2M USD to eBay for trespassing on its servers and spamming its customers. http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,37852,00.html

[13 July 2000 11:49 -0400] EBay asks U.S. court to ban user for bad language http://www.cnn.com/2000/LAW/07/13/ebay.reut/index.html


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