Wholly hobby

Washington, DC - We’ll confess a certain fondness for the Hobby Protection Act. Based on the name, we were hoping it safeguards our right to watch reality TV while eating ice cream - our favorite hobby - but the real purpose is much different.

At the direction of Congress, the FTC put the Hobby Protection Rules in place to address the marking of “imitation numismatic items” and political items sold to collectors. Did you just come across a genuine Double Triple Eagle Gold Piece or is it a novelty copy? Is that “I Like Ike” button the real McCoy from the 50s or a reproduction? The Hobby Protection Act requires companies to “plainly and permanently” mark coins, paper money, and the like with the word “COPY.” Political items have to be marked with the date they were made so consumers know if they’re buying the real deal or a replica. The FTC Rules explain how to do that.

As we mentioned yesterday, the FTC periodically looks at rules and guides to see if they’ve kept up with the times. If a regulation no longer serves its intended purpose, does it really need to be on the books? (Alas, poor Frosted Cocktail Glass Rule. We knew it well.) If technology has changed, maybe some tweaks are called for. One example of that: the FTC’s 2013 updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.

The Hobby Protection Rules are the next to go under the “How’s it holding up?” microscope. The FTC has asked consumers and industry members a series of questions about how the Rules are working in the real world. How do the Rules affect consumers and small businesses? What are the costs and benefits? Are there things that need to be changed?

What do you think about the Hobby Protection Rules? File an online comment by September 22, 2014. Like similar filings you send us, we’ll post them on our public comments page.

Additional information