More ebaY Follies: This Seller’s Heart Is In The Right Place But…

Appropriate music ‘Damned If I Do’ by The Alan Parsons Project

He/she/it may get booted from FeeBay anyway for this kind of listing because it doesn’t follow the ‘informational product listing’ rules and policies of ebaY. This could also be auction interference (anybody selling a script or autograph on ebaY can claim this listing is hurting their sales). What ebaY might also suggest to this ‘seller’ is that he/she/it register with ebaY’s VeRO (Verified Rights Owner) program so that anytime ‘legalalliance’ sees someone whose copyright, trademark or California state rights of publicity have been violated **AND** this ebaY ‘user’ LEGALLY REPRESENTS that rights owner, as a VeRO registered user, ‘legalalliance’ can have the infringing auction listing(s) ended.

Here’s the listing [and my comments are in the usual brackets []]
ebaY 4839802548

Free: How to SPOT: ILLEGAL Script or Autograph FORGERY
24, NYPD BLUE, CSI, LAW & ORDER, GREY’S ANATOMY, ALIAS Item number: 4839802548

Item location: Fremont, CA United States
Seller: legalalliance ( 1 )

Description
How to SPOT an ILLEGAL Script or FORGERY on EBAY

Most Dealers advertisting “COPIES” or “REPRINTS” are selling bootleg illegal copies of copyrighted items. BE CAREFUL of this SCAM because many are also associated with illegal FORGERIES!

This auction is for a printed or email version of the following information: [here’s where ‘legalalliance’ gets into trouble with FeeBay because no one is going to pay for what he/she gets for free in its entirety just by reading the rest of this listing]

How to spot a forgery on Ebay and frequently asked question on what to do if you have been the victim of a forgery scam. Near the bottom you will find the studio and celebrity contact information to report forgery crimes.

The police, FBI and Professional Autographed Dealers Association estimates that 90-98% of the A-list Hollywood Celebrity autographs on Ebay are FORGERIES or are in some way counterfeit. There is now a firestorm of 20,000-30,000 forgeries, counterfeits and illegal copyrighted items being sold every few weeks! It has become a multimillion dollar business. [I can believe this]

How to spot a forgery on Ebay: If you are buying on Ebay you are probably buying a forgery so WATCH OUT.

Beware of Ebay Dealers with a GOOD feedback rating. That’s right a GOOD feedback rating! The FBI warns that most forgery dealers have good feedback ratings often in the thousands. Just because a dealer shows a good feedback rating does NOT mean the item is authentic, all it means is the dealer has sent out an item in a timely manner. Forgers are very manipulative and will use good “customer service” to mask the fact they are selling forgeries. [This is also true of ‘good sellers’ of legitimate memorabilia too though…it is probably better to try to distinguish bootleggers from authentic sellers by WHAT KIND OF THINGS they sell]

Beware of Dealers with a lot of inventory. Celebrities sign a very limited number of items every year. Dealers who claim to have dozens or even hundreds of items from the same celebrity or film production are most likely selling forgeries. Forgery Dealers are very clever so watch out. [This is a good rule of thumb…if it keeps showing up every week and it’s VDO related, the likelihood that it is a copy is high]

Beware of dealers selling items like scripts or photos that are REPRINTS or COPIES. First, many of theses items are copies of forgeries and second, most of the items are ILLEGAL copies of copyrighted motion picture and television photos and scripts. If you buy one of these items, it is just like buying a bootleg copy of a movie, it’s illegal and you could be held liable so stay away from these dealers. If you want to buy an authorized script copy contact the studio to purchase an authentic copy (not an illegal one).

[Also a good rule of thumb…if the underlying item itself easy to copy (you can pretty easily photocopy a script yourself or use your computer to duplicate photographs or put sayings and pictures on say a T shirt or a mouse pad — movie posters are a little more expensive to make copies of due to their size, but if they’re popular and lucrative, they can and will be copied), the likelihood that it is in fact a copy and a not authentic unauthorized copy is high, especially if it appears to have sold several times and keeps showing up in new listings.]

[The part about being liable yourself for ignorantly or knowingly buying a fake is questionable because even though they can sue you, what sensible business-minded rightsholder is going to sue you and then turn around and try to get you to give them money for a legitimate item? Remember The Vault’s cardinal rule and keep repeating it until you’ve not only memorized it, but if you’re a rightsholder you FOLLOW it: ‘Smart businesspeople don’t sue potential customers’.]

[As for the idea of contacting a studio to buy an authentic copy of a script or a photo, well good luck with that because if they respond at all (assuming you can find the right people to talk to), the answer is likely to be “sorry, no we don’t sell those”]

WATCH OUT for Listing Tricks: Watch out for listing tricks that sellers use to get out of legal responsibility for selling you a forgery. If an item says “Autographed Photo of Angelina Jolie” They are not claiming the item is SIGNED BY Angelina, they are only claiming that somebody signed it.

[Cute trick huh? Anyone including The Vault could do this to VDO items, but The Vault 1) would be horrified at the idea of anyone defiling an authentic item of memorabilia with a signature (possibly even the actual person depicted in the item) and 2) The Vault is too busy hunting authentic items to start up a sideline in copymaking and faux signatures. So here’s more reasons why signatures can be suspect.]

Watch out for fuzzy photos and unclear signatures: There are problems with both clear and fuzzy photos. A clever forger may show a picture of an authentic autograph and sell you a false one. Other dealers buy directly from forgers who come close enough to the real signature that they proudly display the forgery with a crystal clear photo. But a dealer who won’t even show a clear photo or clear signature is definitely suspect and probably avoided.

[One FeeBay seller The Vault knows of *NEVER* lists a picture of the *ACTUAL* item to be sold partially out of laziness (it takes time and effort to get digital photographs made and uploaded into a FeeBay listing) and partially out of fear of being caught at photocopying items and making up fake signatures)…the ‘actual’ excuse given by the seller is always ‘my stock is in such constant flux so I don’t take pictures but hey, trust me, the item is authentic…’]

Watch out for TRICK Certificates of Authenticity: COA’s can be printed on any paper by anyone unless the COA specifically holds legal claims that the item is real and the person takes legal responsibility if it is otherwise the COA is just a trick and false sense of security. Insist that a COA has a live signature and the person claiming legal responsibility’s name is printed clearly under the signature. Make sure the COA states that the item is a legal original autograph signed BY the celebrity in question and that further the photo and/or script the signature is printed on is authorized by copyright and trademark laws and by the owner of the trademark.

[A better approach if you collect in this area is to get a ‘lifetime guarantee’ from the seller that if at any time the item or the signatures are proven by an authentications expert OF YOUR CHOICE (for example: I would insist on an entertainment memorabilia expert to authenticate VDO’s signature, not a sports memorabilia expert suggested by the seller, even if the sports expert is certified and belongs to professional societies like PSA/DNA, etc) to be suspect, the seller will take back the item AT ANY TIME and refund your purchase price so long as the item is kept in substantially the same condition.]

Don’t buy from dealers who will NOT allow you to authenticate the item before you send the money: Make sure the seller has a notice in their listing that allows winning bidders to authenticate the item before the buyer send payment. A seller who does not offer this service is probably trying to trick you into buying the item. A money back guarantee is not enough because a forger will make off with your money.

[This authentication of course has to be checked out BEFORE you bid or you risk violating FeeBay’s rules and losing your account. Since there is such a time pressure aspect to FeeBay auction and since a buyer-scammer could swap an authentic item for a fake (or damage the authentic item) and return the fake or damaged item to the seller with a notice that he/she/it is not going to pay, this suggestion is going to prove unworkable]

Google Ebay Seller forgery lists: Consumer Advocates have set up lists of Ebay sellers who are thought to be selling forgeries. Check out the lists and make sure you aren’t buying from one. X-LIST etc..

[Nice idea but impractical. Userids of problem sellers at FeeBay change all the time and no forgery list can stay current without a lot of effort and a lot of purchasing fakes from ‘new’ sellers.]

IF YOU MUST BUY AN AUTOGRAPH ON EBAY:

FIND A LEGITIMATE AND PROFESSIONAL DEALER: If you must have an autograph, consider buying only from authentic autograph dealers who are governed by strict association such as the Professional Autograph Dealers Association. Many of these dealers sell on Ebay and they are actual professionals trained to identify authentic signatures. [Even PADA and UACC members get swayed to the Dark Side so you could be the one buying an ‘authentic signature’ from a soon to be disgraced and expelled PADA or UACC member and be clueless about the transaction until after the money has changed hands. Beware here]

HAVE THE ITEM AUTHENTICATED BEFORE YOU BUY: Bid only on items that allow you to authenticate the item before you make payment. If they will not let you authenticate the item, they may be trying to trick you into buying or bidding on a forgery. Ebay rules favor the SELLER even when the seller is trying to peddle a forgery. If you bid on an item and find out it is a forgery, EBAY and the Seller may try to force to you to buy the forgery anyway because you bid so watch out and buy only from sellers who allow you to authenticate the item first and cancel the sale if it is not authentic. [As The Vault discussed above, good luck with this]

GET A LEGALLY BINDING CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY: Make sure the dealer provides an original Certificate of Authenticity (COA) claiming the item is an authentic original autograph signed by the actual celebrity and that the photo or script is an authorized copyright. Make sure the COA also contains a real signature of someone willing to take legal responsibility and their name is clearly printed under their signature. The COA should also contain the name, address and phone number of the COA issuer. [Get the real world contact information of the seller (i.e. name, postal address, phone number, etc) and a ‘lifetime guarantee’ in writing with a legally binding signature etc instead]

Leonardo DiCaprio, Patrick Stewart, Meg Ryan, JK Rowling Wes Craven and many other celebrities are telling their fans and the general public NOT to buy anything on Ebay claiming to have their autograph because it is highly unlikely the items are authentic and Ebay currently does not have any system in place to prevent forgeries from being listed. [It is true that FeeBay does not have such a system, mostly because FeeBay doesn’t want to have any legal liability should that system fail and a defrauded collector choose to sue]

WHAT DO I DO IF I PURCHASED A FORGERY OR ILLEGAL COPYRIGHTED ITEM?

It can be very frustrating to find out that you have been scammed and to watch the scammers continue to make money off other victims but taking the following steps WILL help stop forgeries so take heart your voice will make a difference and there is a chance you can get your money back. If you can take all the following steps:

1) Immediately contact the police and file a report. Your local police department is required to take the report and they will be forwarded to the district of the seller. DO NOT let the police department tell you only to report it to EBay because Ebay does not have the authority to press criminal charges. If criminal charges are brought the seller may be required to pay restitution and refund all the victims money. A criminal court order can NOT be bankrupted so it is a legal judgment that the convicted criminal is required to pay. [Not so effective…but if you’re really mad, go for it]

2) After filing a police report then report the incident to Ebay’s Fraud Department and submit the police report number. [Also not so effective unless the claim is for a lot of money or there are a lot of similar claims…but if you’re really mad, go for it]

3) Leave negative feedback on the seller to warn other buyers. [Possibly the least effective suggestion made…it’s better to file an Item Not Received / Item Not As Described claim with FeeBay…but if you’re really mad, go for it. Be prepared to receive a negative feedback rating from the seller though]

4) Contact the studio and celebrity and provide the police report number. [Assuming you can figure out the right people to contact of course. This is also not so effective unless the claim is for a lot of money or there are a lot of similar claims…but if you’re really mad, go for it]

5) Contact PayPal or your Credit Card and initiate a dispute to get your money back. [Bingo! This should be Step #1. The money disappearing from the seller’s account will be the most likely thing to get good results and doesn’t need to be for a lot of money or depend on others complaining too. But if you didn’t pay by credit card or PayPal, you may be out of luck].

Finally, in your letters to the studios and celebrities formally request that they implement a forgery prevention program. The FBI has suggested a forgery prevention program to the studios and celebrities using a tamperproof holographic label and it will virtually SHUT DOWN forgeries and illegal copies. It only costs a few pennies but the studios and celebrities are waiting for the public to show interest in forgery prevention so your voice definitely makes a difference. [What happens when some disgruntled underpaid flunkie working for a studio / network / celeb takes off with a bunch of the holographic labels and certificates and starts selling ‘authentic’ signed items? Would you then trust the label as a sign of authenticity? I thought not…]

[Also studios, networks and celebrities are more interested in you consuming their normally sold entertainments than your efforts to build your collection of items of associated memorabilia unless they are already in that memorabilia making business and there is a proven huge market for it (example: Elvis Presley Enterprises or Lucasfilms and the Star Wars franchises)]

To Contact the CELEBRITIES regarding forgeries address to:

Screen Actors Guild
Forgery Prevention
Alan Rosenberg; President
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3600
FAX NUMBER: (323) 549-6677

FBI Contact Information:

Forgery Program is called Operation Bullpen
san.diego@ic.fbi.gov
Telephone: (858) 565-1255

Here is the contact information for the studios:
Make sure to address to the LEGAL DEPARTMENTS:

STUDIOS

DREAMWORKS SKG

http://www.dreamworks.com

1000 Flower St.

Glendale, CA 91201

Phone 818-695-5000

METRO GOLDWYN MAYER (MGM)

http://www.mgm.com

10250 Constellation Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90067

Phone 310-449-3000

MIRAMAX FILMS (LA)

http://www.miramax.com

8439 Sunset Blvd.

West Hollywood, CA 90069

Phone 323-822-4100

MIRAMAX FILMS (NY)

http://www.miramax.com

375 Greenwich St.

New York, NY 10013-2338

Phone 212-941-3800

NEW LINE CINEMA (LA)

http://www.newlinecinema.com

116 N. Robertson, Ste. 400

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Phone 310-854-5811

NEW LINE CINEMA (NY)

http://www.newlinecinema.com

888 Seventh Ave., 20th Fl.

New York, NY 10106

Phone 212-649-4900

PARAMOUNT PICTURES

http://www.paramount.com

5555 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90038-3197

Phone 323-956-5000

SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT

http://www.sony.com

10202 W. Washington Blvd.

Culver City, CA 90232-3195

Phone 310-244-4000

TURNER ENTERTAINMENT GROUP

http://www.turner.com

1050 Techwood Dr. NW

Atlanta, GA 30318-5604

Phone 404-827-1500

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

http://www.fox.com

10201 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone 310-369-1000

UNIVERSAL

http://www.universalstudios.com

100 Universal City Plaza

Universal City, CA 91608

Phone 818-777-1000

VIACOM ENTERTAINMENT GROUP (LA)

http://www.viacom.com

5555 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90038

Phone 323-956-5000

WALT DISNEY COMPANY, THE

http://www.disney.com

500 S. Buena Vista St.

Burbank, CA 91521

Phone 818-560-1000

WARNER BROS. STUDIOS

http://www.warnerbros.com

4000 Warner Blvd.

Burbank, CA 91522

Phone 818-954-6000

TELEVISION NETWORKS

ABC ENTERTAINMENT

http://www.abc.com 500 S. Buena Vista St.

Burbank, CA 91521

Phone 818-460-7777

CBS ENTERTAINMENT

http://www.cbs.com 7800 Beverly Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90036-2188

Phone 323-575-2345

COMEDY CENTRAL

http://www.comedycentral.com

1775 Broadway

New York, NY 10019

Phone 212-767-8600

FOX

http://www.fox.com

10201 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone 310-369-1000

HBO (LA)

http://www.hbo.com

2049 Century Park East, Ste. 3600

Los Angeles, CA 90067

Phone 310-201-9200

HBO (NY)

http://www.hbo.com

1100 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10036

Phone 212-512-1000

MTV NETWORKS (LA)

http://www.mtv.com

2600 Colorado Ave.

Santa Monica, CA 90404

Phone 310-752-8000

MTV NETWORKS (NY)

http://www.mtv.com

1515 Broadway

New York, NY 10036

Phone 212-258-8000

NBC ENTERTAINMENT

http://www.nbc.com

3000 W. Alameda Ave.

Burbank, CA 91523-0001

Phone 818-840-4444

NICKELODEON/NICK AT NITE/TV LAND

http://www.nickatnitestvland.com/

1515 Broadway, 38th Fl.

New York, NY 10036

Phone 212-258-7500

PBS

1320 Braddock Place

http://www.pbs.org

Alexandria, VA 22314-1698

Phone 703-739-5000

SHOWTIME NETWORKS, INC. (LA)

http://www.sho.com

10880 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 1600

Los Angeles, CA 90024

Phone 310-234-5200

SHOWTIME NETWORKS, INC. (NY)

http://www.sho.com

1633 Broadway

New York, NY 10019

Phone 212-708-1600

TURNER NETWORK TELEVISION (TNT)

http://www.turner.com

4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg. 160

Burbank, CA 91505

Phone 818-977-5500

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX

http://www.fox.com

10201 W. Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90035

Phone 310-369-1000

UNITED PARAMOUNT NETWORK (UPN)

http://www.upn.com

11800 Wilshire Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90025

Phone 310-575-7000

VIACOM ENTERTAINMENT GROUP (LA)

http://www.viacom.com

5555 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90038

Phone 323-956-5000

VH1

http://www.viacom.com

1515 Broadway

New York, NY 10036

Phone 212-846-8000

WB TELEVISION NETWORK

http://www.thewb.com

4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg. 34-R

Burbank, CA 91522

Phone 818-977-5000

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