Monday, October 21, 2013

Ticketmaster Is Finally the “Good Guy”

     In our general area of the world (and others), Ticketmaster is the primary seller of first-purchase tickets. That is, they sell the tickets used at the event by the original purchasers and the tickets originally purchased by one person but then sold to another.    
     On the one hand, we appreciate some of the features of Ticketmaster, such as a three-day return policy. And Ticketmaster is certainly more responsive to consumers than it was a few years back. On the other hand, it is tough to understand the mathematics of an additional $10 convenience fee on a $25 ticket. That’s a 40% mark-up. In the 1990s, Pearl Jam openly complained about the high service charges of Ticketmaster and the U.S. Department of Justice opened an antitrust investigation regarding Ticketmaster’s practices (the investigation did not uncover sufficient evidence to move forward with an antitrust proceeding). 
      Even with the charge of $10 for the "convenience" of buying a ticket, it is easy to justify siding with a first-purchase ticket company when that company is attacking ticket scalpers who are in the business of beating music fans to the purchase of a limited number of tickets, with the intent of selling the tickets to music fans at a premium that far exceeds the 40% mark-up. We have nothing against the people who stand outside a concert site and buy tickets from one person in order to sell to another. Those on-site scalpers provide a service and deserve some compensation. At times, fans of a band will travel to a venue, relying on these on-site scalpers for ticket opportunities.
      The scalpers who provide no value-added service are the ones who buy tickets on-line and then almost immediately try to sell them at a different on-line site. Probably without fail, an event that is a sellout within a 15 minute time limit will have plenty of tickets available after only another 15 minutes, because the scalpers’ only interest in the ticket purchase was to resell them.  
     Well, Ticketmaster has sued Higs Tickets, Inc. (along with John and Patrick Higgins) for copyright infringement. Clearly, we are on the side of Ticketmaster. The litigation was filed on October 16, 2013, in the Central District of California. Among the allegations are that the defendants are using bots to circumvent Ticketmaster’s security provisions, are exceeding the limit of 1000 “hits" per day, and are clogging Ticketmaster’s system with storms of requests.

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