Update: licensing eBay sellers

Now it’s California legislators: “California residents who sell goods on eBay could have to pay a $295 fee and be regulated in the same way as pawnbrokers under legislation designed to crack down on the sale of stolen property.” Opponents say the bill would drive out of business thousands of antique dealers and consignment shops, as well as eBay sellers and the dropoff shops and sellers’ agents that work with them. Pawnbrokers, who are pushing the legislation, say that state law already requires that sales of secondhand goods be reported to local law enforcement, but that the law has gone unenforced against everyone but themselves. In recent years influential Sacramento legislators, including Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco), have unsuccessfully proposed measures to require secondhand sellers to report transactions to a state law enforcement database, which is the pawnbrokers’ key demand. (Greg Lucas, “Pawnbrokers try, try and try again”, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 25). We earlier discussed proposals for licensing of eBay sellers in Ohio (Mar. 21, 2005) and North Dakota (Oct. 13, 2005).


  • If sales of second-hand goods must be reported, does that mean I must report my garage sale to the authorities? I hope I’m not the only person who sees how intrusive this legislation is. If stolen property on eBay is, in fact, more prevalent than in normal secondary channels, how does this solve that problem? It’s not like a report that I sold “lawn chairs” is sufficient to distinguish them as stolen property of “Jane Brown, 123 Main Street”.

  • Maybe the cops need to learn to check e-bay, just like they check pawnshops for goods matching reported thefts.