Gentry v. eBay, Inc., 99 Cal.App.4th 816, 121 Cal.Rptr.2d 703 (2002) (full-text).
Factual Background Edit
Buyers of fake autographed sports memorabilia sued eBay. The phony merchandise was sold by dealers who were unrelated to eBay. The sellers merely used eBay's website, the way thousands of other sellers do. The plaintiffs asserting two claims against eBay. One claim alleged that eBay violated California's Autographed Sports Memorabilia statue — a law that requires sports memorabilia "dealers" to provide buyers with certificates of authenticity. The other claim alleged that eBay violated California's Unfair Competition Law by permitting false representations to be placed on its website.
Trial Court Proceedings Edit
The trial court dismissed the buyers' lawsuit, ruling that their complaint failed to state a claim on which relief could be granted.
Appellate Court Proceedings Edit
The appellate court agreed, holding that eBay is not a sports memorabilia "dealer," and therefore the California Autographed Sports Memorabilia statute did not apply to its activities.
The appellate court also held that under federal law makes eBay immune from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides that an "interactive computer service" (like eBay) is not to be treated as though it were the publisher of information provided by others.