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EBay draws line at items exploiting attacks

The online auction site says items relating to the Trade Center and Pentagon are off limits for now.

By DAVE GUSSOW and GREG AUMAN

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 13, 2001


Everything from a bust of Elvis Presley to collectible milk bottles is offered for sale on eBay. But the online auction site decided that items exploiting Tuesday's terrorist attacks went too far.

EBay blocked items related to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, including a video, a World Trade Center "disaster Web site," a New York subway sign for the center and even debris.

"Out of respect for the victims, their family members and the survivors, eBay is temporarily suspending trading of all items directly related to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon," the service said in an announcement posted late Tuesday. The ban will last until Oct. 1.

Forty-one items relating to the World Trade Center had been posted in the past month, but 96 -- everything from souvenir elongated pennies to a picture of the World Trade Center "pre-explosion" -- were added in the first five hours after the attacks Tuesday morning. Bidding on a 5.5-inch-tall copper miniature of the towers had reached $127 by midafternoon Tuesday.

Then there was an artist selling his "framed" "limited" "rare" picture of the World Trade Center. Cost: $1,500.

"I say this is rare because this is the only one that exists," the seller wrote. "I am the author and the picture has been signed by me. In light of what happened, I may produce a few more, but these are not available anywhere else."

The number of items reached about 600 later in the day before the popular site made its decision. Among the items blocked Wednesday were newspapers from across the country.

"Many of our users have asked that we take this step," eBay's announcement said. "And we believe that the eBay community will understand and support this decision."

- Times staff writer Leanora Minai contributed to this report.

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