With Fifty Shades of Grey having become something of a goldmine this year, it’s inevitable that plenty of people will be trying to gain a benefit. But with pdf copies of the series turning up on eBay, it looks like there’s a danger of ebooks being counterfeited and re-sold in large numbers.
A quick search for Fifty Shades of Grey pdf copies on the main eBay.com site shows up no results, but the eBay.co.uk site is a different story. At the time of writing, there are plenty of people offering pdf copies. This would seem to be against eBay’s terms of service, which prevent digital-only sales. Selling pdf copies that are delivered physically (e.g. on a flash drive or a CD) is acceptable (assuming that the seller has the right to do so), but simple downloads are prohibited.
Another potential eBay-related problem is the large number of people selling CDs containing hundreds of pdf copies of ebooks. In most cases, the titles of the books on the CDs aren’t listed, so you’d have to buy one to find out which books are being offered. These sales at least don’t seem to be breaking the eBay terms of service (because the CDs are physically mailed out), but there’s still a question of whether
Recent court cases have suggested that purchasers of ebooks have a right to sell those ebooks on as second-hand items. But even if that (rather debatable) argument is accepted, it still seems odd to find so many pdf copies of ebooks available on eBay, especially with some of the sellers claiming to have many copies up for sale. Is there a black market in pdf copies of ebooks, and if so, how big is it?