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eBay bans sale of Obama inauguration tickets

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eBay has agreed to ban ticket sales for US President-elect Barack Obama's upcoming inauguration ceremony on its websites.

The online auction house arrived at the decision at the insistence of representatives from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (which, as you may suspect by their name, takes inaugural ceremonies pretty seriously).

Head of the committee, California Senator Dianne Feinstein, recently has been advocating against online scalping of inauguration tickets amidst an overwhelming public demand.

Only 240,000 tickets for the January 20 event are provided free to the public through members of Congress and the inauguration committee.

Feinstein said the overwhelming demand to attend the swearing-in ceremony has caused online scalping at sites like eBay's ticket venture StubHub and Craigslist for prices reaching as much as $40,000.

The inaugural committee sent out a warning last week that swearing-in tickets are only issued the week before the event and to "view any offers of tickets for sale with great skepticism.

After attending a meeting with the inaugural committee, eBay has agreed that banning ticket sales to the event is "in the best interest of all concerned."

An eBay rep told us it would police the ticket sales by way of its general methods and "state of the art anti-fraud technology."

"I want to thank eBay/StubHub for not allowing the sale of inaugural swearing-in ceremony tickets on any of its websites," Feinstein said today in a statement. "They have led the way and I hope other Internet companies will follow."

May as well follow while it's still an option. Feinstein said Monday she's drafting legislation that would make it a crime to scalp inaugural tickets. Those caught selling tickets would be charged with a misdemeanor and receive a "very hefty penalty." ®

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