Archive for July, 2007

Nimrod, Bluster and … Blair?

July 19, 2007

Publisher’s Weekly, whose managing editor bought my now-infamous copy of the new Harry Potter book, contacted the Christopher Little Literary Agency regarding their laughable demand that eBay pull an auction that had long since been completed:

While the item Collier posted on eBay was a genuine, legally obtained copy of the book, the agency defended its actions in an e-mail sent to PW. “The publication date for our client’s work Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is 21 July 2007 and we have not authorised any prior release or sale. Any such release and/or sale of said work would be an infringement of our client’s rights,” wrote Neil Blair, an attorney for the agency. “Without our client’s consent or approval Mr. Collier included a copy of our client’s work on his EBay advertisement and this amounts to an unlawful copying thereby entitling us to send the VERO take down notice which we in fact did.”

Blair goes on to say that it, “is not clear to us that this book was obtained through lawful means.” But Scholastic has accused DeepDiscount of the very snafu by which Collier said he unexpectedly got his copy early.

If Mr. Blair likes, I’d be happy to provide him with a fax of (a) my original order with DeepDiscount, (b) the email notice I received from DeepDiscount last week informing me that the book had been shipped, and (c) the packing receipt that came with the book. I’m sure Robin Lenz at Publisher’s Weekly would also be glad to produce the original shipping box, which was return-addressed to “DD,” or DeepDiscount.

I’ve sent the following for-quotation statement to Publisher’s Weekly regarding Blair’s statement:

“Mr. Blair’s argument, if you can dignify it with that term, is risible on its face, and I would refer him to the very basic legal principle of First Sale Doctrine. Having completed a sale though entirely legal means–I am not a party to any contracts between Christopher Little, Scholastic, DeepDiscount or any other distributor–I was the legal owner of the book, and had every right to do with it as I saw fit. I have no more violated J.K. Rowling’s copyright than I’ve flown around downtown Atlanta on a broomstick, and Mr. Blair knows it. I would advise him to limit his threats to people who are actually afraid of legal bullies.”

I don’t take kindly to bullying, Mr. Blair, or to slanderous accusations. I suggest that you apologize posthaste for accusing me of theft.


Things Are Officially Out Of Control

July 19, 2007

I was just interviewed by a camera crew, and will apparently be on the CBS Evening News tonight.

Given the history of this very blog, I hereby pause for a moment to soak in the irony.

Today’s events tell me two things: One, CBS doesn’t have Google. Two, this must be the slowest news day in the history of the planet, and possibly the universe.

Fool If You Think It’s Over

July 19, 2007

Just when I thought my 1.5 seconds of “Harry Potter” notoriety were over, I received the following email missive from eBay:

Dear willpc,

You recently listed the following auction-style listing:


The listing was removed because it violated eBay policy.

The rights owner, The Christopher Little Literary Agency, notified eBay that this listing violates intellectual property rights. When eBay receives a report of this type of violation, we remove the listing to comply with the law.

Copyright infringement is unlawful and against eBay’s policies. Copyright is the protection provided by law to the authors of creative works, such as movies, music, software, photographs and books, both published and unpublished. Copyright owners possess the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, to distribute copies of the copyrighted work, and to perform or display the copyrighted work publicly.

eBay prohibits the listing of unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. Unauthorized copies include (but are not limited to) backup, pirated, duplicated, or bootlegged copies.

Guideline: If the product you are selling is a copy of another work that you aren’t authorized to copy, don’t list the item.

Now, this is really, really, really funny. For one thing, regardless of what the nimrod lawyers from The Christopher Little Literary Agency said in their nastygram to eBay, there’s absolutely no shred of copyright violation in advertising and selling a legitimate copy of a book. I’ve no more violated J.K. Rowling’s copyright than I’ve flown around downtown Atlanta on a broomstick.

The not-funny part about this is, J.D. Nimrod, Esq. has indulged in flat-out deception by charging that the sale of a legitimate, paid-for copy of a book is somehow a copyright violation. This kind of abuse on the part of Big Media organizations is unfortunately rampant, and middlemen like eBay are, as you can read above, hard-wired to respond in their favor without even a cursory investigation as to whether copyright violation claims are valid. Like I said, that’s not funny.

On the other hand, the exceptionally funny part of all this is, all Messrs. Nimrod, Bloviate and Charge managed to accomplish was giving me more money. Here’s the bit I previously redacted from eBay’s notice email:

All fees related to this listing have been credited to your account.

That’s right–not only did The Christopher Little Literary Agency’s nastygram accomplish the decidedly quixotic feat of cancelling an auction that had already been over for about seventeen hours–they made sure that eBay would give me back everything I was charged to advertise and sell the book in the first place. I just went to my account and checked; sure enough, eBay’s mindless bureaucracy has given me a full credit for all fees, a sum I’m more than happy to add to the profits I’ve already collected on the “Hallows” sale.

Oh, and incidentally, I got a nice email from Robin Lenz at Publisher’s Weekly while I was typing up this post; she’s received the book and is quite pleased with her purchase.

So, let’s all enjoy a fine laugh at J.D. Nimrod and his firm of officious idiots. Nice work, guys. Be sure and bill the good Ms. Rowling for all the many hours you’ve spent in making yourselves look like utter morons.

Harry and Me

July 19, 2007

As promised, here’s my rundown on what happened yesterday with Harry Potter, eBay, and yours truly. Thanks to Kathryn Jean Lopez at NRO for picking up the piece; landing my first sale to National Review was at least as satisfying as selling the book:

I Was An eBay Voldemort

Harry Potter and the AP’s Shenanigans (Updated)

July 18, 2007

From an AP story that’s making the rounds the last half-hour or so:

As of Wednesday morning, the $34.99 release was being offered on eBay, for immediate purchase, for $250.

“That’s right — I’ve got one copy of Harry Potter 7, on July 17, and it can be yours as soon as July 19. Hurry! Confirmed payment by 6:30PM on July 18 will ensure delivery on July 19 by FedEx Priority Overnight!” read a message from a seller identified as “willpc” and based in Atlanta.

“I don’t work for a bookstore, and I don’t have a magic wand — an online store shipped a copy early.”

Two pictures of the book, which sits upon a copy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, are offered as proof. The seller, who declined immediate comment when e-mailed by The Associated Press, has been an eBay member since 1999 and has a perfect “Feedback” score, according to the “Feedback Profile” for willpc.

Here’s your news scoop for the day: I am “willpc.” The “pc” stands for Panama City, Florida, where I was living when I started my eBay account way back in 1999.

As you can imagine, I’ve had an interesting 24 hours, and I’ll be retelling it directly, either here at VodkaPundit or elsewhere, but for the moment, I post to officially call shenanigans on the Associated Press. I have not been contacted by them either by email or in any other medium, and as such I have not declined to talk to them (although I officially decline now–lie about me, and your interview window is closed).

Needless to say, more to follow.

UPDATE: Since publishing my article at NRO, I’ve been credibly advised that the incorrect line in the July 18 Associated Press story was due to miscommunication and not malice or sloth. I appreciate the follow-up I’ve received in this matter, and hold no hard feelings towards the AP or the article’s author.