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For week ended August 01, 1999 Posted 7 Aug 1999

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Temple Recommend sale on eBay still possible

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Temple Recommend sale on eBay still possible
Kent Larsen 29Jul99 L6


LDS Church May Have Had Role In Pulling Item From Net Auction
Salt Lake Tribune 29Jul99 L6
By Bob Mims: Salt Lake Tribune

As reported Friday on Mormon-News, a disgruntled LDS Church member attempted to sell his Temple Recommend on the on-line service eBay, but the complaints of hundreds of LDS Church members led eBay to review the sale. EBay then discovered that the seller had provided inaccurate contact information, a violation of its user agreement, and cancelled the sale the same day (not Sunday, as the Salt Lake Tribune inaccurately indicates).

EBay gives the same reason for cancelling two additional sales on Saturday. A second Temple Recommend was posted (item number 136242381) for sale, as was a video that purported to have been surreptitiously filmed inside a Temple (item number 136057357). The users selling both of these items had also given inaccurate contact information, leading to their sales being cancelled.

EBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove indicated that its customer service department received "several hundred e-mail messages from users complaining about the Temple Recommend sale last Thursday. Notice of the sale was spread first by Nick Literski, who runs an e-mail list to notify users of updates to his LDS Temple Homepage . From Nick's notice, the word was spread throughout the hundreds of LDS e-mail lists and internet sites.

Pursglove told Mormon-News that the inaccurate identifying information was the only reason that the recommend was removed from sale, and that this same reason applied to the two other sales cancelled on Saturday. "We became aware of it and looked into it, responding to the concerns,"said Pursglove. "In this case, we found the individual offering the item had provided us with improper contact information. We were unable to reach the person so we took it down; we ended the auction."

However, Pursglove also made it clear to Mormon-News that it was possible for other items offensive to LDS Church members to be sold on eBay, simply because their sale isn't illegal. For this to happen, the seller would have to give accurate contact information, in addition to making a legal sale. And, even if the sale was for an illegal item, it can take eBay's auction department several days to investigate an item. An example of this is the currently offered sale of LDS Temple clothes (item# 136047129) which remains on sale on the site.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports today that eBay received an e-mail message from lawyer Todd Zenger of the Salt Lake law firm Kirton & McConkie, representing Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and Temple Reserve, Inc., two LDS Church owned corporations. Intellectual Reserve holds all the Church's intellectual property, including copyrights, while Temple Reserve owns LDS Temples and related property.

In his message, a copy of which was obtained by Mormon-News, Zenger asserts that the recommend is owned by the Church corporations and that its sale is an infringement of the Church's rights. He also notes that the seller provided inaccurate contact information to eBay.

EBay also indicated that it has not changed any of its policies following these sales. However, in the past it has bowed to some public pressure. Pornography, for example, can only be listed in a separate Adult section on eBay.

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information