eBay Says Selling Download Codes Is Copyright Infringement

Stephen buys Blu-rays, but has no use for the free Ultraviolet download codes that come with the discs. So he turns around and sells them on eBay, because, hey, money! Only eBay shut down his last auction, claiming copyright infringement. Copyright infringement? In our brave new world, just because you purchased something and are holding it in your hand, that doesn’t mean you can sell it. Apparently.

I picked up “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” on Blu-ray this morning. It came with a digital download code good for a free Ultraviolet copy of the movie. As Ultraviolet is worthless to me, I listed the code on eBay. Within a few hours of the listing going up, eBay took it down for copyright infringement. They warned me not to list it again, or my account would be suspended.

I called their customer service number to explain that the listing was taken down in error, and the helpful lady on the phone was much more concerned with the fact that there was no birth date attached to an 11-year-old eBay account. Once we got that taken care of (she literally refused to help me until I tied my birthday to my account), she basically just kept reading and rereading the email to me over and over again.

Now, let’s forget the fact that I’ve sold Ultraviolet codes on eBay before. Let’s also forget the fact that, right this very second, there are a boat-load (metaphorically, not literally – that would be weird) of Ultraviolet code auctions live. How, exactly, are they able to claim Ultraviolet codes as copyright infringement? It’s a product. It’s barely different from me selling a physical copy of the Blu-ray that I don’t want, or the third disc in the set which is a DVD copy I’ll never use. And why are they enforcing this imaginary policy selectively?

Is this an awful lot of trouble to go through just to make, at most, $5? Yes, it is. However, I’m self employed, and today is a slow day.

Yeah, forget about that whole “doctrine of first sale” thing!


Edit Your Comment

  1. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    Digital copies are supposed to save the consumer the trouble of ripping and possibly burning copies for their own use. What the OP was doing was more like making copies and selling them. I’m hardly an apologist for the MAFIAA, but when you buy one movie and then try to sell a copy and keep a copy, that’s not that far removed from just selling pirated copies.

    • MattAlbie says:

      Only one person can redeem a code, and then the code doesn’t work anymore.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        You completely missed the point. So he was only “pirating” one copy per movie, not multiple copies. Should it be legal to burn a “backup” copy, then sell the copy? The original? I despise DRM and “licensing”, but I find both of the scenarios I propose unethical, regardless of their legality. By extension, the same applies to selling either the code or the disc and keeping the other.

        • MattAlbie says:

          I don’t understand. So what you’re saying is, it’s illegal to buy something and then sell it if you don’t want it anymore?

          Those UV codes come on little paper slips included in the case. You go to a website, type the code in, and download the copy to your computer (or in the case of UV, add it to your already existing “digital locker.”) The OP never had a copy of the digital UV version of the movie. It doesn’t exist until someone redeems the code.

          • snazz says:

            When you buy a blu-ray disc, you are not buying three copies of the movie. You are buying one license to the movie, and the studios give you three ways to view that license (download, blu-ray and DVD). Think of it like software, if Microsoft gives you a serial number for Office and provides you a download and a physical DVD to install the software, you don’t get to sell the one you don’t use. The same applies to movies, the studios are just giving you additional means to view the movie you bought, they are not providing you multiple copies. You bought the blu-ray and get access to one copy of the movie. I agree with ebay for shutting down his auction, it violates the licensing to sell off the other aspects of a blu-ray purchase. Though it sounds like ebay needs to police their auctions better and get rid of all the other ultraviolet auctions that exist.

            • MattAlbie says:

              The first-sale doctrine says that the copyright holder’s rights to control the change of ownership of a particular copy ends once ownership of that copy has passed to someone else, as long as the copy itself is not an infringing copy.

              And yes, I did just copy that from Wikipedia. The Internet is grand.

            • Hobz says:

              I might agree with your statement except that they charge more for the extra copies. By charging more for the same product you are in effect providing each copy of the movie with it’s own license.

              Also, movies are not serialized meaning that the media or the physical original copy of the movie is what provides you the license to view the movie. If you don’t have an original copy of the movie, whether it’s the blue ray, dvd or ultraviolet code then you are pirating.

              That was the way I understood movie copyrights.

              • ldillon says:

                >By charging more for the same product you are in effect providing each copy of the movie with it’s own license.

                Can you provide anything to back up this statement?

              • kobresia says:

                Think of the additional cost as the cost of an extra form of media being delivered, and there you go. It costs extra because it includes access to network-delivery of the product, not just the disc you can hold in your hand.

            • xantec says:

              Your analogy would work if it was relevant. If Microsoft provided you with two different serial keys (one for the physical copy and one for the download) then it would be analogous. Should the OP choose to redeem the UV key himself he would be able to watch the movie on three difference devices simultaneously (BD, DVD, UV). Each version of the product is a distinct and separate copy, legally provided by the distributor. The OP, therefore, should be able to keep, sell or destroy any of the versions as they see fit.

        • tomok97 says:

          That logic only works if the Ultraviolet code is for a “back-up” copy. But I don’t think the manufacture of the Blu-Ray gets to determine your motivation for purchase. What if you wanted the code but didn’t own a Blu-Ray player? Are you not allowed to sell the Blu-Ray? What about Blu-Ray/DVD Combo packs? Is the DVD now a “back-up” for the Blu-Ray and, therefore, still technically the property of the movie studio? It’s a one-time use code. This isn’t piracy.

    • castlecraver says:

      Huh? The product he purchased included 2 copies of the film in different formats. He wanted one format. He tried to sell the other. There is absolutely no piracy going on here; exactly zero new copies were being made.

    • MonkeyMonk says:

      This isn’t true at all.

      The OP bought two distinct items: A Blu-ray disc and an Ultraviolet download code for the same item. He’s not making copies — he’s just selling off one of the two items he bought and keeping the other half. He’ll retain the physical copy but lose all rights to the digital copy.

      • Portlandia says:

        Exactly!! The MPAA can’t have it both ways. They don’t want you to make legal copies of their product so therefore they sold you a physical copy and a digital copy. You’re choosing to sell your digital copy.

      • larissa_j says:

        Wrong again. The OP bought ONE LICENSED SET which include a FREE item under that single license.

        You can’t separate the two unless you sell them under once license and that means selling them both. It’s just like ripping the movie with your own software and trying to sell it. You only own one licensed copy. Just because the studio gave you something for free, that doesn’t mean you have two licenses and therefore the right to resell it as two distinct items.

        Why is this so hard to understand when the studios have been trying to move to the license model for years?

        • MattAlbie says:

          If we only own one copy, why does the front of the packaging say “Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy”

        • jeadly says:

          Because it doesn’t make any sense. I absolutely CAN sell something that a company gave me for free. I just have to find a buyer who thinks it is worthwhile.

      • dchs says:

        Umm it doesn’t necessary have to be illegal. Maybe Ebay’s wording was misunderstood or not written properly.

        There’s no way that ebay can check whether the codes are legitimate or whether this guy hasn’t sold the code to more than one user. Which would be copyright infringement.

        So as such they have to ban sale of those codes as they have no way of knowing whether it is being legitimately sold or not.

      • kobresia says:

        You are wrong.

        The OP bought a Blu-Ray disc with *bundled* free download code. The OP did not buy a Blu-Ray disc and also buy a digital copy of the movie. These were not two distinct items, they were two forms of one item. The possession of that physical disc is the license to enjoy that specific movie, as its owner, in a variety of forms. I’d also be fairly confident it could absolve the owner of copyright liability for downloading the same product via torrent (the “making available to others” bullshit, probably not so much).

        By the same token, I would wager eBay would remove my lot if I attempted to sell the Windows 7 Professional license from my laptop. It’s a legitimate license, but it was forcibly bundled. I theoretically had to pay for it, even if M$ was guilty of product dumping in their continued anticompetitive attempts to maintain dominance. Even if I don’t want to use Windows (because I run Kubuntu instead), I’m pretty sure I’m not entitled to sell that Dell OEM Windows license without the computer attached. That’s just the way the licensing terms are. Bundled stuff is an all-or-nothing proposition, you can’t legally sell it piecemeal.

        • MattAlbie says:

          If you’re right, then why is the Blu-ray only version one price and the “Blu-ray + Digital Copy” version a different, higher price?

          • kobresia says:

            It’s added value intended for people who want that feature. It makes no sense whatsoever that they are selling a two-pack of the movie in different forms and intend that the second can be sold separately. I can all but guarantee that the terms of the digital download are that the individual downloading MUST have the original disc in his/her possession.

            Without citing the actual terms and conditions, ALL of us are arguing based on ignorance, including the OP. Willful ignorance of the terms, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. The OP didn’t mention what those terms say. They contain the definitive answer to “whether it is copyright infringement or not” right there.

            • Not Given says:

              Correct me if I’m wrong but UV isn’t a download, it’s streamed. Which is worthless to me because of my slow connection.

              • kobresia says:

                I really don’t know. I’ve seen the codes included before, I am under the impression they are some sort of fingerprinted, DRM-protected download that would only work on a single computer after phoning-home to a server. Maybe they’re streamed through some sort of account you have to set up and then add the codes to.

                I’m just not the least bit interested in any of the studios’ shenanigans. I want to watch my damn movie with the least amount of needless inconvenience possible. In my experience, almost all of the proprietary DRM-riddled player apps to play defective-by-design DVDs & Blu-Rays on a computer, or the official downloaded/streamed versions of most things will not work on Linux, even under Wine or a Windows VM. Trying to get them to work and then meeting with failure just wastes my time and makes me irritable. That’s why I don’t even try anymore, I just buy my entitlement to the movie, try to watch it directly from the disc, and if that doesn’t work, it’s over to Demonoid for a quality torrent since I’ve fulfilled the spirit of my obligation to compensate them for their work.

              • Yorick says:

                I bought the most recent Mission Impossible movie on Tuesday — BluRay + DVD + Digital Copy, at Best Buy for $20 (Best Buy has a special version with a second BR disc of extras). It includes a Digital Copy code that can be used on UltraViolet and on iTunes.

                So, I got an iTunes digital copy download (standard-def, 640×354) and the itunes Extras for no additional charge. I think the iTunes extras’ content is the same as the BB bonus disc’s content.
                I also got access to UltraViolet streaming of the movie and I can download a supposedly Hi-Def copy (which I haven’t done yet), also for no additional charge.
                So for my $20 I got 2 Blu-Ray discs, a DVD, two different quality digital files, and access to free streaming (supposedly it’s free streaming for a year).

                If it was only access to the streamed version, then I wouldn’t want it, because I don’t have any devices that it would be worth having it for.
                “Digital Copy” should mean an actual copy, not access to streaming, and in this case Paramount has done things right by the consumer. From reading all the rules and stuff about the UV service, every studio is going to make its own rules and you have to have an account with both the studio and UV, which is annoying.

        • CodingParadox says:

          Except that you’re completely allowed to sell that windows key…

          • kobresia says:

            The license sticker reads “Label not to be sold separately”.

            Therefore, I believe that it begs to differ, even if I technically could peel it off and sell it contrary to its statement. After all, I did not make the original purchase and never used Windows, and therefore did not explicitly agree to those terms.

            Maybe I don’t let stickers tell me what I can’t do!

            The broader license terms on the EULA card probably try to say that I agreed to the license terms somehow, but I don’t have that EULA card in my possession and it’s not the actual license.

            • drjayphd says:

              …thus, people sell their codes with a token piece of hardware, like a hard drive or stick of RAM.

              • kobresia says:

                That’s a generic OEM license you’re thinking of, such as how Newegg sells its generic OEM system builder Windows licenses, assuming they still are utilizing that loophole. I bought a few licenses for XP some time ago along with $0.99 drive cables or something.

                If it’s branded by Dell (or another manufacturer), generally it’s bound to that specific OEM’s hardware, possibly even the specific machine, per the specific contract they have with M$.

                Okay, so one way might be to sell it along with an identifiable part from the computer, (even OEM-branded RAM), but it might still get removed by M$ if sold via eBay, since eBay allows “intellectual property owners” to police their own products themselves as site admins who have the power to remove listings they unilaterally deem to be a potential infringement.

          • Dave B. says:

            No you’re not. You can sell a retail license that you bought and are no longer using, but you cannot sell an OEM license that came with a computer you bought without also selling the computer it came with to the same person.

    • Necoras says:

      No, absolutely not. Digital copies are not there to “save the consumer trouble.” They exist as a revenue stream. Go ask Apple or Amazon if you disagree. If a company can sell a product, physical or digital, an individual can sell that same product once they’ve paid the initial cost.

      Ultraviolet is a service which allows an individual to view a digital copy of a movie. The codes which come with Blu-Rays are not “pirated” copies. They are a way to add that license to an individual’s account. The digital copy is a separate product from the physical one. There is no pirating involved here in any way shape or form.

      • larissa_j says:

        Wrong. The digital copy is, in fact, a way to discourage the consumer from ripping their own non DRM’d copy. Think like a studio.

        • iesika says:

          Or buying one on itunes or similar, then realizing how much easier that was and no longer buying disks.

      • ldillon says:

        I would suggest that the customer has one “license” for the content, regardless of the physical or digital copies.

        • LanMan04 says:

          Sweet, so now I can get DVD/Blu Ray copies of all the movies I bought in VHS format? For free?

          I own the license for the movie, after all…

          • kobresia says:

            Unless a torrented version had substantially more or better content, I think you would be within your consumer rights to download a digital “backup” copy of your VHS tape, even if you didn’t rip it yourself. The grey area comes if you wind-up with substantially better resolution, more content (such as a Director’s Cut) or the like with your new digital copy, because at some point, it becomes an entirely different product.

            Would you be legit if you obtained a DVD backup-copy for your VHS tape which was actually copied directly from an original DVD with the additional DVD content? I would doubt it, but the studios probably have larger fish to fry and you’d kind of have the “spirit of the law” moral advantage.

            But also, the studios would probably pity you and figure you’ve suffered enough, keeping bulky, obsolete, and generally crappy VHS tapes in your home.

    • aleck says:

      I see a lot of arguing by people who have never read the terms of license that comes with the disk and UV code.

      So, without telling everybody how it “ought to be”, can somebody post the terms here so that we argue the facts rather then theories. I have never bought a BD with UV.

      • JHDarkLeg says:

        What license did anyone agree to when purchasing a blu-ray? The terms of license may be on the blu-ray disc itself, but one did not agree to them simply by opening the blu-ray case and looking at the UV code.

        • kobresia says:

          Yes, actually, you did. That’s how the shrink-wrap EULAs work, you agree to them simply by opening the package, even if the full text of the contract isn’t all printed there, because “the EULA tells you how to obtain the text of the contract from the copyright holder”.

          It’s really, really sketchy, but somehow the courts haven’t thrown them all out yet. It’s un-be-fucking-lievable that they haven’t considered such EULAs to be void.

          • Difdi says:

            By reading this reply to your post, you agree to send me one pickled herring. Failure to do so within 90 days of reading this shrink-wrapped EULA will result in the proper action being taken against you.

            Are you bound by that “contract”? I doubt it. But it’s absolutely no different from any other shrink-wrap EULA, that you cannot read until it’s too late to effectively refuse it. So if they are valid, so are you.

            Now where’s my herring?!?

            • kobresia says:

              Just calling it like it is.

              Are shrink-wrap EULAs insane? Yes.

              Why do our courts and pretty much all politicians continue to support laws that accept and enforce them? Because they’re in the pocket of the software industry.

      • Xenotype51 says:

        True. If the license agreement says that resale is prohibited, then http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernor_v._Autodesk,_Inc.

    • Jawaka says:

      I see the Blu Ray/DVD and the code as being sold as a package that can’t be sold separately. The reasoning behind the code isn’t to allow buyers to sell the code separately and reduce the cost of the package.

  2. tomm says:

    As much as I am against DRM, I don’t have a problem with eBay’s decision. I see the Ultraviolet downloads in the same light as ROM’s, if you own the physical copy of the media, it is okay to use them for your own personal use.

    • tomm says:

      Let me clarify that this isn’t necessarily a DRM issue as you are purchasing a physical copy along with the downloadable one.

    • sagodjur says:

      If I buy a lawn mower and it comes with a free bucket, I can sell or give away the bucket. If the entertainment industry wants to treat every online act of copyright infringement as if it’s the theft of a physical good, then consumers can sell digital copies as if they are physical goods with the right of first sale.

      • Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

        How can you compare a lawnmower to a movie? Specifically a digital copy of a movie. In this case you buy a physical copy of movie, and you get a download of the movie. You cannot copy your lawnmower and give somebody a copy of it, and you are not suppose to do it with a movie either.

        I hate the MPAA with a passion, but this is clearly not a problem with the MPAA. It would be different if the person wanted to sell the movie, and the digital copy together, as he bought it, but that is not the case here.

        • sagodjur says:

          Technically, I was comparing the digital copy to a bucket. The physical copy was the lawn mower…

          “You cannot copy your lawnmower and give somebody a copy of it, and you are not suppose to do it with a movie either.”

          Nobody is copying anything here. The digital copy is a separate thing. It’s a one-time use code that permits a single download. It’s not copying the physical copy. It has nothing to do with the physical copy. That’s the point. It’s two separate copies. They are giving away an extra copy of the movie, regardless of whether its physical or digital.

          If they sold 2 physical copies of the same movie in one package, there’d be no issue with selling one. Nobody would argue that you have to keep both copies or sell both copies.

          If you want to argue that purchasing a physical copy is actually just licensing a right to view/listen to the copyrighted material, then I have the right to download digital copies of every piece of music or every movie I’ve ever owned in any format that either got lost, stolen, or broken. The entertainment industry doesn’t see it that way. Suddenly, you only purchased a single copy and if that copy is broken, lost, or stolen, you should buy a new one.

          You can’t have it both ways. If I’m buying licenses to experience the content, where’s my entertainment industry-created online locker for being able to stream or redownload all my licensed content?

          • xantec says:

            “where’s my entertainment industry-created online locker for being able to stream or redownload all my licensed content?”

            And for those of you wondering, the emphasis, as I read it, is on the word ‘all’, “All” as in every song, every movie, every TV show, I have ever bought (on CD, DVD, HD-DVD, BD, digital, et al). Not the cherry picked sample of items that the MPAA/RIAA feels like uploading and double charging me for.

        • thaJack says:

          True. But let’s say it wasn’t a bucket… let’s say he bought the lawnmower and it came with a second lawnmower.

          OR… to make more of an apples to apples comparison…

          $200 for one lawnmower, $225 for TWO lawnmowers.

          He went for the latter.. so why can’t he sell the second lawnmower if he does not want it?

      • Blueskylaw says:

        I just happen to need a bucket. How much are you asking for your bucket good sir?

    • dolemite says:

      That’s an antiquated idea. Redemption codes are common. When I bought my video card, I received 2 codes for 2 free games. I didn’t need the games. I sold them on Ebay. Someone else takes the code, enters it into their Steam account (each code is good for one use only), and they get the game.

      I’m not sure where people in this thread are getting he is pirating or selling multiple codes. The code works once. Who cares if he has a physical copy or not? He bought a pack, it came with a movie and a code, and if he wants to sell the code on Ebay, he should be able to.

      • kobresia says:

        It doesn’t matter if it’s an antiquated idea. It comes down to what the license says, some terms are more progressive than others. Bundled crap sometimes has licensing terms that state the products cease to be licensed if they are separated.

        I’ve seen the version of software bundling you describe. If the download codes you received were part of a promotion, are sufficiently standalone, and don’t have those restrictions clearly stated anywhere, you’re legal in selling them separately.

        At home, I have video games that came bundled with some video cards, on the discs themselves they clearly have the video card’s branding and state “bundled software, not for separate resale”.

        There are also the Humble Indie Bundles of software that come out, all are DRM-free. It’s pretty clear from their terms that each component stands alone, as an individual license. If there’s something you don’t want, you can give it away or presumably even sell it, though there probably isn’t any market for games that anyone can name their own price for the entire bundle on. If you buy overlapping bundles, you are welcome to reassign any redundant game licenses. They spell that out clearly and even encourage it. Valve does the same with certain bundles sold through the Steam store as well, but other bundles (such as the Orange Box) are a single product.

        • MonkeyMonk says:

          It’s irrelevant what the license reads because it’s not enforceable until the download code is used. There is no license for the physical Blu-ray disc. The OP owns it upon purchase and is 100% within his rights to sell it.

          If there is any license involved it only applies to the digital copy. This license is not invoked until the downloader uses the code and agrees to the terms of the license. The original purchaser is free to transfer this license up to this point because he has not entered into a license yet with the studio.

          • kobresia says:

            It would be selling a bogus, copyright-infringing product if the vendor can’t be reasonably certain that the recipient is in compliance with the license terms. EBay is very strict when it comes to the sale of “backup copies” of games or movies, basically just considering them to be infringements– selling a downloaded “backup” or alternate delivery method provided by the copyright holder is no different than selling a burned DVD backup-copy. The only way I could see them permitting such a thing is if someone sold all his or her “backups” along with the original, but even then, I have a feeling they’d pull auctions if any mention of backup copies was made.

            Also, this sort of situation is why folks are being sued for insane amounts by the studios. The studios don’t care if someone didn’t buy the song or movie, the damages would be trivial over the mere “theft” of one instance of a thing. They’re suing over “making available”, or providing copies to people who are not entitled to the work, which is precisely what providing an orphaned download code would be. Disclaimers that “you can only download/buy this if you, on the honor system, say you’re legit” don’t fly because it’s too easy for a would-be thief to lie.

  3. BurtReynolds says:

    Strange, I’ve always valued the UV “digital copy” at $0.00. I hope I can still request an iTunes code if I ever buy another blu-ray with it on there. Or I’ll just rip my own copy.

    • larissa_j says:

      I run linux so anything with DRM is useless to me. I throw away/ignore the iTunes and other ‘Digital Copies’ included with media. I have to rip my own.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    “Within a few hours of the listing going up, eBay took it down for copyright infringement.”

    When you list the codes on eBay, pick the 2 hour auction with a reserve,
    so that by the time eBay even catches wind of it it will have already been sold.

  5. PSUSkier says:

    Exploit the same loophole that the ticket scalpers used back in the day. “I’m selling a piece of paper that was used to print an Ultra Violet access code.”

  6. RiverStyX says:

    They were messing with me the other week..I attempted to list some gameshark/homebrew crap for the gamecube and it was pulled down, said it contained a modchip or some shit. But there are other people selling the same thing, one guy has 10 of them for $100 a piece, I was auctioning it for $10.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      The guy selling them for $100 is probably the one who complained to ebay about your auction. It’s a way to get rid of the competition.

  7. Mike Toole says:

    Huh, weird. I’ve sold several “digital copy” codes on eBay, usually for $3-5 each. I love that nonsense! The disc itself is already a digital copy that is very easy to rip for viewing on my tablet, so I’m more than happy to sell the extra code that they pack in as an Ultraviolet or iTunes download or whatever.

  8. Marlin says:

    Sell a pen and the code comes with the pen for free.

    Not sure if that still works but that use to be the norm.

  9. spazztastic says:

    If you read the license agreement, the UV code REQUIRES you to also own the physical copy. It’s not a separate part, and it IS a copyright violation to sell the code without the disc.

    • MattAlbie says:

      So if you buy just a UV version of the movie, do you have to go out and get the Blu-ray as well?

      • Traveller says:

        What so many people seem to miss is that when you buy a disk, cd, whatever that is a copyrighted item, you are buying the license to use that item not the disk, cd, whatever, those are worthless.

        The paper it is printed on, the disc, the UV code, those are all just mediums to access the license, so when you sell the code, yes you are violating the license. The new buyer does not technically receive the right to use it. It is just piece of paper.

        • Bionic Data Drop says:

          Thank you Traveller. I was wondering how far I would have to read before someone understood this.

    • shepd says:

      No, it is a copyright violation to download it using the code. Selling it is legal. The thing is, it would sell for nothing unless a pirate wants to buy it.

      It is equally legal to sell someone your receipt, UPC, and a rebate voucher you were given when you bought a product. It would be, however, fraudulent for that person to then send in a claim using those items for money as most vouchers say it is only for the original purchaser.

      The question is, in either case, are you an accessory to the crime? I don’t think that’s for eBay to decide, but it is their site, and if they want to make it less useful and encourage competing sites, good for them.

  10. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the license that you get with the BD purchase ties the UV download to the original BD purchaser. Hence…not a separate product you can sell. Sure, it sucks…but I’d be amazed it the license doesn’t spell that out. Don’t have one handy…

    • larissa_j says:

      Exactly but why apply common sense and the law when you can make stuff up and try to argue that it MUST be true?

  11. az123 says:

    My guess is that you either worded your listing in some way that triggered the eBay dropping your auction method, or someone else who is selling the same thing went and turned you in for it so that they could have no competition for the sale.

    Given the number of copies of the same thing that are up right now I highly doubt this is a crackdown on selling the codes from eBay… or they are doing an amazingly bad job at it

  12. Cat says:

    Ultraviolet is NOT a digital copy. It’s a scam.

    • Yorick says:

      It’s a scam to provide digital access to a film you purchased physical media of? how so?

      According to the stuff I read about it, on UV’s site and Paramount’s site, you can also purchase digital versions of films without having physical media. Just like going to the iTunes store, except with more hoops and less Apple.

  13. RandomLetters says:

    Good luck expecting logic out of eBay. I agree with Stephen that the download code is something that should be sellable. Its a one time use code. Saying that selling it is like selling pirated copies of the movie means someone doesn’t understand how those kind of things work.

  14. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    eBay Says Selling Download Codes Is Copyright Infringement

    Exsqueeze me? I mean, if it really is a term of the Ultraviolet service to own both the digital copy and the physical copy, okay, fine, that’s a contract issue and I understand.

    But in all other cases, is the product not ‘yours’ once you have exchanged currency for said goods? In this day and age, apparently not, as you no longer ‘own’ media as it was previously defined. You now pay for a personal use license or some other kind of legal-ese nonsense.

  15. Hoss says:

    He’s been on ebay for 11 years and is surprised by this? Why even call to ask about it?

  16. MMD says:

    I’m not sure about the legality or illegality of selling these codes. What I want to know is why, if eBay doesn’t allow this, are they selectively (arbitrarily) taking down only some auctions. If there are metaphorical boatloads still listed, why did the OP’s auction get flagged?

    eBay can make whatever policy they want, but shouldn’t they have to apply that policy consistently?

    • LightningUsagi says:

      eBay doesn’t police the listings…they rely on users to report items to them. If a listing isn’t reported, no action is taken. A lot of times, a listing is reported by a competing seller.

      • MMD says:

        I get that to an extent, but if it’s copyright infringement in one case, it should be deemed copyright infringement in all cases and treated accordingly. If other, similar auctions are allowed to stand, so should the OP’s.

        Maybe we should go through and flag all of the Ultraviolet auctions…

  17. Commenter24 says:

    After reading the other comments, I have concluded that this has already turned into a typical piracy discussion. Most of the commenters are willfully blind to the reality of the US Copyright Laws, and how DVD/Blu-Ray/Software “purchases” and “licenses” actually work. Instead, they come up with a ton of ridiculous comparisons or excuses as to why it’s OK.

    As has been said below, the License for the UV code requires that you own the physical media; if you don’t own it, you’re violating the license, and thus using an unlicensed copy. Without a license, it’s copyright infringement. This isn’t the same as two physical products (a mower and a bucket) and those using that or similar comparisons are being intellectually dishonest.

    • MattAlbie says:

      The code, in this case, is the license. Nobody gets anything until someone redeems the code. You redeem the code, you get a license to the movie which you place in a digital locker.

      • larissa_j says:

        No, the purchase is the license. Nice try but a terrible legal argument.

        • MattAlbie says:

          I’m literally describing how their service works. Don’t get snippy with me. Get snippy with them, for designing something in the dumbest way possible.

        • RandomLetters says:

          During my lunch break I happened to be doing some shopping and I read the outside of the package for MI: Ghost Protocol and no where on the outside packaging that I saw did it state that the UV copy is a license or that you have to retain the physical copy to activate the UV copy (it just said it came with a free UV copy). In did point out that Paramount is not resposible for UV and buyer beware because the code may not be redeemable after one year. So how can there any kind agreement between myself and UV when I never purchased anything from them? If I had bought the movie then my agreement would have between myself and Paramount who on the outside packaging disavowed any responsiblity for the UV copy.

    • shepd says:

      It isn’t copyright infringement until someone downloads using the code (assuming they do so against the TOS).

      The code itself, or rather, the paper it comes on, is legally seperable from the the Blu-Ray. Furthermore, there is no requirement that the owner of said Blu-Ray respect the TOS/EULA/whatever unless they want to make USE of the Blu-Ray (NO, you are not required to return it, of course, you should because otherwise you have a worthless brick. Unless you really like the case…). Until that point, only standard copyright law applies, and that copyright law simply says “you won’t make copies”. Sending someone the piece of paper would not make a copy and thus would be legal.

      But entering the code would require you to accept the terms, and if you accept them and they require ownership of the physical media, THEN the copyright infringement happens. However, that happens AFTER the sale. The sale itself is not copyright infringement.

      • larissa_j says:

        You could try to argue that in court and you’d lose. I’d bet that the studio would indicate that the ‘code’ is a password but the license is actually on the DVD which it usually is. You should pay a little more attention to your DVD packaging.

        • MattAlbie says:

          It’s not. iTunes digital copies used to come like that, where you had to put an actual disc in your computer in order to unlock it. Since Ultraviolet, they don’t anymore. You literally point your browser to a specific URL, type in the code, and type in the user name and password of the account you want to be able to watch the movie with. No disc needed.

        • shepd says:

          That would require a EULA. In that case, acceptance of the EULA requires agreement to a contract. That contract is only valid if conscionable, and the only non-disclosed-at-purchase terms deems conscionable would be the ones you are bound to by standard copyright law. An unconscionable practice would be to hide ADDITIONAL terms of the EULA (such as not permitting sale of a piece of paper in the box) until after the purchaser has done something that would bind them to that agreement (watching the movie).

          This is why if you buy software, you have to accept the EULA to get it to install, and the EULA permits you to a full refund if you do not agree even though the box is opened, as the EULA with it’s stronger than copyright law requirements was hidden inside the product, so it is not a conscionable contract due to it being given to you AFTER the sale. Having the refund gives them the right to say it is now conscionable as you could have returned it.

          I have yet to find a Blu-Ray (and I have Blu-Rays that include such codes, so I know it is the case here, too) that requires agreement to a EULA to view the movie. The closest I’ve seen is the FBI anti-piracy warning message, which simply states that copying the movie is a crime. It states nothing about selling original copies of materials included in the box separately.

          Be assured, I pay attention to the packaging. Nowhere on my copy of GI Joe (one of the movies that came with such a download code) does it state anything about it not being legal to sell it piecemeal. Some do have invalid wording violating my rights of first sale, but those are exactly that, invalid and free for you to ignore at no peril to yourself.


    • Geekybiker says:

      That’s only because licencing is kind of a ridiculous concept designed to thwart first sale doctrine. IIRC licencing has been overruled in court in some instances.

      I doubt the actual law being violated is copyright anyways. He’s not making any copies and distributing them. I doubt that he’s the one breaking any laws by selling the code. Even if its forbidden by the licence, that a contract issue, not a criminal issue. I think it is an issue between the buyer and the studio if it is an issue at all. Can they redeem the code without it being fraud or similar?

      • larissa_j says:

        Ah no. He is. And while I agree the model is horribly flawed you can’t argue that you don’t like the model therefore you’re going to ignore the law. People have tried and still gotten fined or gone to jail.

        • Geekybiker says:

          You clearly don’t understand what copyright law is. It may or may not illegal (I don’t think so) It is probably a violation of EULA and possibly actionable with a suit. Just because it involves digital media and might not be legal doesn’t make it automatically a copyright issue.

    • Alan says:

      The question is, can you bind licenses to a physical product? So in theory, they could prohibit reselling the bluray because your active UV account? Can I sell the Blu Ray and UV account after it was activated?

    • LanMan04 says:

      Most of the commenters are willfully blind to the reality of the US Copyright Laws, and how DVD/Blu-Ray/Software “purchases” and “licenses” actually work.
      Good, that’s how laws get changed.

  18. wkm001 says:

    For the love of all things holy, stop using eBay and put it on Craig’s List.

  19. Cat says:

    There are only 39 results found for “ultraviolet code” on eBay. Hardly a “boatload”.

  20. Lyn Torden says:

    Birthday? Oh, yeah … uh … April 31st.

  21. larissa_j says:

    Do we really have to explain this to you? Honestly?

  22. eltee says:

    The problem is that the license allowing use (in the legal sense) of ultra-violet codes is actually tied to the physical disc ownership. Yes, the technical ‘key’ is a thing printed on a slip of paper, but its the ownership of the disc that it came with which is tied to the actual legal permission to use that online content. You can legitimately sell that access key, but for it to be truly properly legal and ‘first sale’ the disc has to go with it.

    Otherwise, its basically like ripping a cd in itunes and then ‘selling’ the digital files to friends while keeping the disc for yourself (or even technically the other way around as well, i.e. ripping a disc, keeping the files but then selling the disc on to someone else) Both violate the first sale by going from ‘one’ copy, licensed for multiple uses to multiple copies, licensed for ‘one’ use each.

    • MattAlbie says:

      I don’t agree with your iTunes analogy. Ripping a CD is making a digital copy you’re not supposed to have (alright, I know. But let’s just go with this). An Ultraviolet copy is a digital copy that you bought once already.

  23. Cerne says:

    This is just Ebay being stupid, not a sign that corporations have destroyed property rights or the doctrine of first sale.

  24. DogiiKurugaa says:

    Had the same thing happen when trying to sell a code for a DLC costume for Assassin’s Creed back a couple of months ago. It might very well just be some vindictive seller reporting you to thin out the competition.

  25. Bladerunner says:

    The sale itself is trivially not copyright infringement.

    If the TOS require a physical copy, that’s fine, but let’s look at someone who buys the movie used…they can’t have the code that originally came with it, and have to shell out for a new one. In the first place, if the code wasn’t a separate digital item from the physical media, then the secondhand purchaser could apply for his “free code” again, so once again it’s trivially false that it’s copyright infringement.

    But even beyond that, since a used purchaser DOES own the physical medium, but doesn’t have a code, that person is someone who would benefit from paying a few bucks and who is not violating TOS by anyone’s logic.

  26. SteveZim1017 says:

    wow, look at all these people arguing. its almost like this is a disputed gray area. I wonder why ebay would want no part of this…

    • Bladerunner says:

      That’s not valid…just because some people are vocally arguing doesn’t make them equally valid. By that logic, they should keep evolution out of schools just becuase idiots want to push creationism

      • SteveZim1017 says:

        not at all the same. As a 3rd party seller (ebay) it’s in their best interests to protect themselves from possible lawsuits. If 2 parties are arguing about the legality of selling an item, and one of the parties is a huge corperation then it may be in their best Financial interest to restrict the item until the issue is resolved.

        This isnt a govenrment of censorship issue, its a matter of best financial interest for the company (ebay)

  27. thaJack says:

    You bought TWO copies of the movie… one physical and one digital. Just because you bought them as a package does not mean you have to re-sell them as a package.

    If I bought a pair of shoes and the shoe store gave me a 2-for-1 deal, and I don’t need the second pair, why can’t I sell them?

    • ganzhimself says:

      That’s exactly what it means. The agreement for the UltraViolet copy states that you have to be in possession of the physical disc to redeem the code for the digital copy. So, no, you are not allowed to break up the bundle.

  28. AEN says:

    What if I used the ultraviolet code myself and sold the physical DVD (without the code), would that be OK?

  29. daynight says:

    For the packs where they include both a BluRay and a DVD, there are two copies that can be played simultaneously by different users. There is nothing wrong with selling one if you don’t need them both, is there? Why should there be a problem with selling a digital copy if that is included in the package?
    Go to BJ’s or Costco and find tons of products that have lots in a box that are meant to be sold individually. What is the problem with that?

  30. VashTS says:

    Thia sh!t is out of hand. Use logic, I buy, I can re-sell. There I ended decades of arguments, the rich do it all the time. Shame the rich make the laws and those who think one day, if they follow their laws, they can be rich also. Sorry guys, laws simply keep one class in power and stop a new class from gaining it.

    How the heck, I got from selling on ebay to that statement beats me. There will be a lawyer who will dissect my statement below on this site. There always is.

  31. Kestris says:

    It’s eBay. Don’t expect to ever understand their arbitrary selection process of what can and cannot be sold there and by whom.

  32. Captain Obvious says:

    I buy all my movies at the thrift store.
    What is this license you speak of?

  33. MarvinMar says:

    I bought my Bluray copy of Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides from http://www.familyvideo.com/
    I paid $10 for it. The reason It was only $10… They DVD version was not being release for another 30 days or so. (They wanted the DVD for rental purposes) They would keep the DVD out for the pack, and send me the Bluray and Digital Copy.
    So, how does this fit with your 1 license theory?

    Also, the pack with the digital copy often cost several dollars more. I could argue that at most all the studio is out is $3.00 because that is all they valued the digital copy at in the first place.

  34. consumerd says:

    Sell it on craigslist…. screw feebay and it’s paysuck equivalent… I would just get a square and a serve account for selling stuff now.

    I have went to private forums to sell stuff now.