The story goes: I placed the Kungfu Hustle DVD online for sale at ebay. Then it was pulled by ebay saying that they were contacted by Sony Pictures that I am infringing on their copyright policies. I contacted Sony and they gave me a canned answer. I responded angrily demanding an explanation for double standards and they didn't respond. Once again, I posted the item on ebay after 1 week and they pulled it again. Here are the email exchanges, starting from the earliest.
Dear Yee-Wei Chai (firstname.lastname@example.org),
**PLEASE READ THIS IMPORTANT EMAIL REGARDING YOUR LISTING(S)**
We would like to let you know that we removed your listing:
6379569310 Kung Fu Hustle DVD Collector's Gift Set
because the intellectual property rights owner notified us, under penalty of perjury, that your listing or the item itself infringes their copyright, trademark, or other rights.
We have credited any associated fees to your account. We have also notified the bidders that the listing(s) was removed, and that they are not obligated to complete the transaction.
If you relist this or any other similar items on eBay, your account likely will be suspended.
If you believe your listing was ended in error, or have questions regarding the removal of this listing, please contact the intellectual property rights owner directly at:
Sony Pictures Entertainment
eBay is available to answer questions, but since it is the rights owner that requested the removal of your listing(s), we encourage you to contact them first.
For more information on eBay's cooperation with rights owners through the VeRO Program, and a list of rights owners that have created About Me pages, please visit:
Thank you for your cooperation.
Customer Support (Trust and Safety Department)
And so I responded:
03/03/2005 04:55 PM
Subject: RE: ebay listing ended
I recently had an ebay listing removed by the ebay Vero system and I
wasn't given a proper reason why it had infringed on any interllectual
ppty. Your email was listed for contact so I want to know what was the
reason for so? The DVD is original, everything was new and why shld I
be penalised for listing something that is not pirated?? My ebay record
has been perfect and with such removal you have seriously impacted my
image on ebay.
The DVD in question was 6373700920 Kung Fu Hustle Limited Edition
Collector's Gift Set DVD. It was an official release and purchased from
HK. What is the problem here?? Could you kindly explain??
ebay id yeeweichai
Then I got a response from Sony Pictures:
Subject: RE: ebay listing ended
Date: 11 Mar 2005 AM 02:28:58
Sony Pictures Classics Inc. ("SPC") holds the exclusive right to distribute the motion picture, "Kung Fu Hustle" worldwide in all formats. As such, SPC is the only entity authorized to distribute this motion picture for sale in any format worldwide. SPC has not yet released this motion picture in the United States theatrically or in home entertainment. Any other company or individual that sells this motion picture or offers this motion picture for sale in the United States infringes SPC's exclusive distribution rights in the United States
Then I replied again:
From: Yee-Wei Chai
Date: 11 Mar 2005 AM 11:17:02
Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: Re: ebay listing ended
Dear Sony Pictures,
This doesn't makes sense. Plenty of people sells Code 1 DVDs to the rest of the world even though they are not released (or never released) and no one is going after these individuals. I live in a region Code 3 country (Singapore), but Code 1 discs are available everywhere. Does it make all these retailers illegal? Furthermore, I see other ebay selllers still listing this item, as well as other Asia DVDs/CDs sites like "Yesasia.com" selling the same item as well worldwide including US. What gives them more right to do so than myself? Are you coming after me because I am easier to scare/pick on? Why don't you pick on someone your own size.
I am re-selling my DVD to someone else in other parts of the world, not just US. Piracy is a term used for thieves and I am certainly not pleased for being branded as such when what I am doing is exactly what everyone else on ebay is doing - selling different region DVDs to places which are of not the same region indicated.
This region coding technology is a chore and a hassle in an extremely interconnected world of today. Everyone is more international than ever before thanks to the proliferation of understanding between cultures and countries. To set up this region coding to prevent reduced profits due to your inefficient distribution penalizes those individuals who are well travelled and speak multiple languages. I am a fan of japanese movies, HK movies, US movies, and as a result of your region coding, it has extremely inconvenienced me in my pursuit of exploring the different myriad of movies out there. Would the only legal solution for people like me (which there are plenty) be to purchase a DVD player from each different region so as to enjoy DVDs from different countries?
I am copying this email message to Cnet, ainitcool.com, as well as Roger Ebert in hopes that this ridiculous issue of region coding which was introduced to the world by the selfish media giants, may be brought to more attention and generate discussion.
I love movies, and I love music. I have always sought to support the movie and music industry by purchasing originals although I live in a region which sees the proliferation of pirated medias. I have even sought to study film in college and is now in the process of shooting my own short film. But in recent years, the media giants have been seeking many ways to prevent piracy and their methods have been taking its toll on legal supporters like myself. In light of all the "rules and regulations" set by these bodies, it is giving the "law-abiding" end-users less reason to support them. There's always the big media firms complaining about the how much profits they are losing through piracy and how they have to implement DRM to fight the pirates. But who is speaking up for the legitimate users like us who are getting their rights shreds to bits over the years?
And after more than 1 week, I still haven't heard back from Sony. So thus I relisted the item, seeing that tons of people are still selling Kung Fu Hustle on ebay, obviously ebay didn't go after them. But 1 day after listing it, it got removed again. This time I am mighty pissed as expected.
Here's my latest response back to Sony again:
From: Yee-Wei Chai
Date: 22 Mar 2005 AM 10:47:30
Subject: Re: VeRO NOTICE: eBay Listing(s) Removed - VeRO Program
Dear Ebay and Sony,
I do not understand why is my item being removed/unallowed to sell on ebay when a search of kung fu hustle results in so many other listing that are legit and even allowed to complete auction? This is the 2nd time this has happened. I have contacted Sony regarding my item and they gave a unreasonable and unsatisfactory answer. I responded but they never answered back for more than a week. The double standards by Sony and ebay (vero) is unacceptable.
I seriously demand an explanation why am I not allowed to sell this item when others could? What makes my act one of piracy versus the rest of the ebayers?? Why am I targeted?
The last response from Sony is as follows:
Sony Pictures Classics Inc. ("SPC") holds the exclusive right to distribute the motion picture, "Kung Fu Hustle" worldwide in all formats. As such, SPC is the only entity authorized to distribute this motion picture for sale in any format worldwide. SPC has not yet released this motion picture in the United States theatrically or in home entertainment. Any other company or individual that sells this motion picture or offers this motion picture for sale in the United States infringes SPC's exclusive distribution rights in the United States.
Then please answer my questions:
1) Why are other ebayers allowed to sell the same item I am selling?
2) If "SPC is the only entity to distribute the picture in any format worldwide", why are retailers in Hong Kong and Singapore allowed to sell them everywhere? These include legitimate companies like HMV and Tower Records
3) If "Any other company or individual that sells this motion picture or offers this motion picture for sale in the United States infringes SPC's exclusive distribution rights in the United States.", why are US online retailers like Yesasia.com allowed to do so, and even continue to do so after taking down my listing? Why the double standards?
I expect a response from both ebay and sony picture classics regarding this issue, and addressing all the points I have listed above.
I will update the site with my latest saga on this issue so check back often to see what these shitheads at Sony and ebay has got to say.