Items Incorporating Celebrity Likenesses or Images

Q: "I took some great photos of a famous celebrity during this year's eBay Live! show. Because I'm such a fan of this guy, and I know a lot of people in the eBay community are, I've made up key chains and other body jewelry items featuring these photos. I know he won't mind—he's crazy about eBay, I understand—but will eBay pull my listings if I put these up for sale there?"

A: I'm flattered, I really am... ©. But, unfortunately, you can't sell these items on eBay. Under eBay's Faces, Names, and Signatures Policy (pages.ebay .com/help/policies/signatures.html), "sellers are not permitted to list an item containing the image, likeness, name, or signature of another person unless the product was made or authorized by that person."

You should e-mail this celebrity, send him photos of these items (or better yet, ask where you can overnight some samples), and ask his permission to use this photo on the items. If he grants it, then you can sell the items on eBay, but be sure to put some language in each item description saying specifically something like this: "I have written authorization from [celebrity's name] to offer these items." Knowing the way many celebrities operate, however, don't hold your breath waiting for his response—celebrities are notoriously difficult when it comes to protecting their image and their legal right to publicity, and I strongly doubt that any famous person, no matter how eBay-friendly, will let this happen without getting a significant piece of the action.

Drug Paraphernalia

Q: "On a recent visit to China, I visited an old antiques store and picked up what appears to be an authentic 1800s pipe for smoking opium. It's made of ivory, is carved with all sorts of figures, and is absolutely gorgeous. Is there any problem selling something like this on eBay?"

A: Unfortunately, yes—eBay's policy on drugs and drug paraphernalia ( permits the sale of some tobacco-related pipes and other antiques, even if they might have been used to smoke illegal substances, but the sale of any product that was specifically designed for the consumption of an illegal drug is prohibited on eBay. The policy specifically refers to "pipes used to smoke peyote or opium, whether new or antique," so you're out of luck. This also applies to that bong you can prove was actually used by Jimi Hendrix during the Monterey Pop music festival in 1967.

You should also check with a good import/export lawyer. China recently passed a law prohibiting the export of "art items" over one hundred years old without a government export permit. Your pipe might fall within the definition of "art items." If it does, you may have to send it back to China. Good luck getting a refund.

Event Tickets

Q: "I live in Connecticut and bought some tickets to a Broadway show in New York City a while back. Because of a family emergency, I will not be able to attend the show. I don't have time to find a buyer for these tickets in my neighborhood. Can I put these up for sale on eBay?"

A: You may sell event tickets on eBay as long as there's compliance with state law. For a summary of eBay's requirements, go to policies/event-tickets.html.

In this case, the event is in New York, and you (the seller) are located in Connecticut. Under eBay's policy, you can sell these tickets on eBay without limit, because New York (where the event will take place) is a "non-regulated location." If you were selling tickets to an event scheduled to take place in Connecticut (such as a home game of the minor league baseball team the Bridgeport Bluefish), you could sell the tickets, but for not more than $3 over their face value, even if the bidder was from another state.

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