Monday, 12 December 2011

EBay Fails to Enforce its Own Policies on Antiquities

SAFECorner has a text on eBay "EBay: Lip service is not enough!".
As the holiday shopping season goes into full force, eBay - the leading online auction and shopping site – once again offers a dizzying array of objects listed under “antiquities.” Described as “early Neolithic,” “Bronze age”, “Tang Dynasty,” to “Khmer,” “Pre-Columbian,” “12th Century Djenne,” “Ancient Roman,” etc. these “antiquities” are advertised to originate from all corners of the world. They include coins, pottery, shards, pieces of "ancient" monuments, statues, textiles, jewelry of all kinds, so on and so forth. The prices offered would suit any budget, ranging from a mere penny to millions of dollars, usually with shipping thrown in for free!
SAFE points out that in theory eBay (based in UNESCO 1970 Convention member state USA) has some rather strict guidelines about the offering for sale of imported antiquities on its website. According the section on "restricted items: artifacts":
Make sure your listing follows these guidelines. If it doesn't, it may be removed, and you may be subject to a range of other actions, including restrictions of your buying and selling privileges and suspension of your account
Listings for antiquities have to meet the following criteria:
- Items have to be authentic.
- Sellers have to include either a photo or a scanned image of an official document that clearly shows both the item's country of origin and the legal details of the sale (it has to be approved for import or export)
Of course V-coins and other such-like sales venues have no such stipulation on export licensces and other documentation of origins, just as well really as to judge from the lack of any mention of them by most sellers, one would be justified in getting the impression that many artefacts on the US market are sold without them - or at least nobody over there cares about them. The bit about "authenticity" is a laugh, too. As SAFE asks: "Are these guidelines are being followed? We invite our readers to take a few minutes to peruse the eBay site and see for themselves". Has anything changed in this over the past decade or so? Are the stringent guidelines put in place with such fanfare in German y and Switzerland a couple of years back being adhered to? Have a look.

As SAFE says: "It is high time for eBay (and its many counterparts) to put action behind its own policies and guidelines. Posting them on the web site alone simply does not suffice".

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