It never ceases to amaze me what people will do for money. Really, it’s appalling sometimes. I’ve seen some interesting eBay auctions before like people selling the free toiletries from hotels, but this is the first time I’ve seen people selling software that’s free from the developers on eBay. I’m sure it’s been going on for about just as long eBay has been around, but this was the first time I went and searched for it. It never crossed my mind that people would be selling FREE software, but I should have known better.
The first example: “Why pay a fortune for Adobe Photoshop when you can edit and draw pictures professionally with this professional paint program. This auction is for an instant download that you will receive by email once you have paid.”
The description above, sadly is for Paint.NET which can be yours on eBay for $4.90. Or you could just download it from the developer for free! They list it as ‘Full Professional Graphics Program– Photoshop Compatible.’ For one, Paint.NET isn’t Photoshop compatible, but what’s even more appalling is that people actually purchase this. The person selling Paint.NET along with several other FREE applications has a stellar 100% feedback!
Not only is selling the free software an easy way to make money (and highly unethical), it also looks like it’s an easy way to gather up feedback. What’s equally as bad is that this same user is selling Open Office and Nvu (comparable to FrontPage or Dreamweaver) for $4.90, as well.After the buyer has paid, the seller just directs them to the free download link that anyone has access to.
Next example:Ubuntu Linux – the normally free operating system is being sold on eBay for $1.99 plus $5.98 shipping charges. This gives the buyer a profit of $7.97 because all they have to do is go to shipit.ubuntu.com, enter in the buyers address, and Ubuntu sends out the disks for free. The seller doesn’t even have to ship a thing!
And just as the Paint.NET scenario above, people actually buy the software and leave positive feedback for this buyer, thanking him for the fast shipping. This particular seller is not the only one selling Linux, in fact, others are selling it for even more.
I know for sure that one of the developers for Paint.NET is aware of this, however he says that to his knowledge what they’re doing is not illegal because of the MIT License that Paint.NET is released under.
He found out about this from people who actually purchased the program on eBay and later fount out that they paid for a free program. The seller in this situation does not specifically say what program it is, rather they just describe it.
I’m all about people researching before they buy, but considering these sellers have great feedback and they generally don’t specify the program that the buyer will be receiving other than to describe it, it’s hard to blame the buyer for not looking into it. It’s obviously an unethical way to do business, but it’s happening. Be sure to spread the word so that people won’t get scammed like this!