February 18, 2004

Law - Who Owns Your Phone Number?

Unbeknownst to many of us, eBay has been auctioning "famous" phone numbers. According to this report from wnbc.com:

In this case, the phone number in the vintage 80s Tommy Tutone title 867-5309/Jenny" has to belong to someone and that someone claims to be putting it up for auction.

We dialed the number, 212-867-5309, but all we heard was a recording directing us to the Internet auction site, eBay.

The story goes on to say that Verizon is "singing a different tune."
And when we clicked on to eBay, we found the bids are ringing up to more than $65,000. The potential buyers apparently believe they can purchase the number under the Federal Communication Commission's new portability rules.
Today a Jackson Sun (Tennessee) headline reads: "eBay auction of 'eight-six-seven-five-three-oh-nieeine' on hold." Some quotes:
The phone number popularized by 1982's one-hit wonder Tommy Tutone - Eight-six-seven-five-three-oh-nieeine - rings into a Murfreesboro used-car dealership in area code 615.

Tuning in to national attention for the auction of New York's 212 version of the number on eBay, the dealership put its number on the Internet auction block Monday.

However Tuesday afternoon, David Ludwig, general manger of Auto Outlet, said he got an e-mail from eBay notifying him that his "Jenny" auction had been canceled for being "inappropriate." The other phone numbers being also sold disappeared from the Web site.

The auctions were put on hold until eBay could determine whether they fell within the company's guidelines, a spokesman said Tuesday night. "People are really creative," said spokesman Henry Gomez. "And this one had us scratching our heads a bit."

Posted by Marcia Oddi at February 18, 2004 05:21 PM