Idol Chatter

As Americans, we expect three simple things: Life, liberty and the right to pursue happiness by selling things on eBay. But Scientology is standing in the way of that American dream, reports Scott Pilutik on It seems that the notoriously litigious church has been using eBay’s Verified Rights Owner Program (VeRO) to keep ex-Scientologists, hoping to recoup some of the amounts that they spent on church-mandated gear, from selling their E-meters and other materials via the online auction giant.

The VeRO system was developed to enable copyright and intellectual property holders to challenge the listing of counterfeit products. But the system is not entirely foolproof. As Pilutuk explains, the uninitiated may think that there is an actual grievance process involved in VeRO, with eBay verifying the claim of infringement. But apparently eBay “essentially deputizes” said intellectual property holder, who can then go in and remove the listing themselves.
Pilituk admits that the system makes sense for manufacturers such as Rolex and Gucci, who would have little recourse otherwise. But he argues that Scientology cannot claim the E-meters for sale have been counterfeit or that their sale violates any trademark or patent law.
Sure, the Church of Scientology claims that E-meters shouldn’t be use outside the auspices of the church. But Pilutik thinks there are less altruistic motives at play: “It shouldn’t shock anyone that Scientology is trying to limit (if not eliminate) the secondary marketplace for E-meters, since they have a strong motivation to control the price on E-meters from their own production line (they update to a newer more expensive model every few years), and a strong motivation to control to whom they’re sold,” writes Pilutik.
“The economic motivation should be clear enough–Scientology doesn’t want what few members it has being exposed to a secondary market because it would undermine their monopoly on a prohibitively expensive and infrequently purchased item” he adds.
Ok, ok. So maybe price-gouging is right up there with Ma and apple pie, when it comes to values that American corporations embrace. But come on Scientology! Think of how many more folks you might be able to recruit if they didn’t have to put out so much money up front by buying second-hand at eBay? Maybe you should give the Gideons a call.

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