There have been a couple heated online debates about the legality of selling Advanced Review Copies, Galleys or Proofs, all of which pre publication copies of books. Nora Roberts was angered over the appearance of advanced copies placed on EBay by a seller who had eight of them. It was clear to me that any individual having 8 copies must have procured them with inside help for no reviewer gets more than one copy or maybe 2.
This seems confirmed by the recent report at Media Bistro that Harper Collins UK employees were caught selling Proofs of books on E-Bay. Apparently, an email went out company wide asking for employees with paypal accounts so the company could bid, purchase and find out the identities of the sellers. The Proof selling employees, in true Darwin Award fashion, didn’t really connect the dots and failed to pull down the auctions.
I have maintained that the sale of the ARC is not illegal. It is the point of procurement of the ARC which were the theft, if any, occurs. I am sure that Harper Collins was not gifting the ARCs to these employees as a form of a Holiday Bonus.