January 26, 2001 5:05 PM PST

eBay, Yahoo crack down on fantasy sales

Real world companies such as Yahoo Auctions and eBay are enforcing laws laid down first in a virtual world, one ruled by warlords and wizards.

Yahoo and eBay have banned from their auctions this month the sale of virtual-world characters and goods found on popular online game EverQuest, a computer generated world where tens of thousands of human players don alter egos to duel, explore and war with one another.

Sony, which owns Everquest, forbid members in April from selling such things as swords, fishbone earrings and magic capes. Thousands of members had created a cottage industry by auctioning the goods, which exist only within EverQuest's virtual borders, often for thousands of dollars.

Both eBay and Yahoo cited their policy on canceling auctions that violate intellectual property rights.

Kevin Pursglove, spokesman for eBay, said that Everquest joined the companies VeRO program, which stands for Verified Rights Owners program. VeRO members list items that they own the property rights to. Should they find an auction selling items that a member believes violate their property rights, eBay will shut down the auction.

"The key is that they are declaring under penalty of perjury that the items they want removed are infringing on their intellectual property rights," Pursglove said.

Pursglove added that an auctioneer risks suspension from selling on eBay should they continue to violate the ban.

Amid EverQuest's highly sophisticated three-dimensional graphics, players create characters that must cut down monsters and overcome challenges to earn greater powers and garner superior weapons and equipment.

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