eBay can be most likened to an online flea market. But, as with most flea markets, there is always the possibility that questionable hawkers lurk around the corners. Therefore, there must be rules in place to insure that the auctions and transactions formed through eBay are legal. Only then can a market - online or not - flourish.
Certain types of items are prohibited or regulated on eBay. eBay reserves the right to terminate auctions that violate its specifications for allowed items on listing. In the case of such, eBay emails the bidder and the seller to notify them of the violation and to explain the need to terminate the auction.
eBays policies describe items that may not be posted for auction. They fall under three categories: Prohibited Questionable, and Potentially Infringing.
This describes items that are not permitted on eBay. This list includes alcohol, tobacco, drugs, animals, human parts or remains, government properties, lottery tickets, and others. eBay contains a complete list of such in their policy statement.
Items listed as questionable can be posted provided they follow certain conditions. For example, some adult material may be listed for auctioning only if they are posted in the Mature Audiences section of eBay. Event tickets may be sold provided that the auction closes before the actual event itself. The list also includes batteries, artifacts, food, used items, event tickets, weapons and knives, police related equipment, Freon, hazardous chemicals, offensive material, mature audiences material, international selling, and international buying among others.
Items listed under this heading may be legal. However, they almost always violate copyright, trademark, and other rights. Some examples of such are: academic software, beta software, bootleg recordings, contracts and tickets, downloadable media, movie prints, OEM software, Replica and counterfeit items, and unauthorized copies.
This list is updated periodically and is incorporated into the User Agreement of eBay. These guidelines do not represent legal advice. It would do well to check with law enforcement agencies, a lawyer, or other legal outlets to verify the legality of a questionable item to be posted.
This policy applies even if you offer to give your item away for free. As long as it is posted on eBay, it is subject to the abovementioned policy.
As a final note, it is stressed that the buyer if subject to liability if he or she purchases an illegal item. It is still the responsibility of the buyers and sellers to monitor the legality of their transactions since eBay is merely a facilitator in the market process.