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Tom and Jerry and me

March 4, 2013 - Harry Eagar
I have purchased a number of Tom and Jerry DVDs, but M-G-M has been kind of chintzy about releasing all of them in the United States. So, when I noticed an eBay seller offering a complete Tom and Jerry collection, I was interested.

True, the seller was from Asia, home of the DVD pirates. But he claimed to have the original receipt, on request, and he had upwards of 7,400 positives on his seller rating. There could be one honest seller in Asia, nu?

And, as an eBay seller myself, I was aware of its policy against selling "Property taken without authorization from companies or governments."

So, I ordered the set. When it arrived, I was immediately suspicious that it might, in fact, be a bootleg. The tipoff was the big lettering on the box: Merto-Goldwin-Mayer.

It turned out that, if I had inspected the thumbnail with a magnifier, I could have seen that before I ordered, but I hadn't thought to do that.

So, I reported the seller for violation of policy, for which the punishment can be banishment.

Ebay sent back a robo-email saying it would investigate and, if necessary, take action, although because of privacy concerns, it would not tell me what action, if any, it did take.

Well, it wasn't hard to wait a couple of weeks and see whether the seller, gadgetsjapan (which despite its name claims to be in Singapore), was still selling on eBay. It is. In fact, it is still selling the pirated Tom and Jerry cartoons, and you can see the Merto-Goldwin-Mayer lettering on the thumbnail.

It isn't hard to figure why. Despite eBay's first "community value" ("We believe people are basically good"), it's a capitalist business with stock on the exchange. A seller with 7,500 positive ratings must have generated tens of thousands in income for eBay. The company isn't going to say no to that, is it?

Pierre Omidyar talks a lot of talk in Hawaii about civic spirit, but his company doesn't walk the walk.


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