Judge Orders Software Firm To Stop Selling Software For Beating Ticketmaster's Ticket Queue

from the i'm-sure-you-can-buy-a-scalped-version... dept

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how ticket scalpers have been able to score so many tickets to Ticketmaster events, locking genuine fans out of buying tickets at list price. The NY Times had a detailed story on the debate a few weeks ago. That story noted a number of things. First, lots of people are pissed off at Ticketmaster for making it so difficult to get tickets. While there are plenty of legitimate reasons to hate Ticketmaster, in this case, it might not be the company’s fault. As it noted in its defense, it often does not get to sell tickets for an entire event, as large percentages of tickets may be reserved or offered through other methods. But, more importantly, Ticketmaster pointed the blame at RMG Technologies, a company that apparently makes software popular among scalpers. The software somehow gets around Ticketmaster’s ticket limits, allowing them to buy up vast quantities of tickets the instant they go on sale. The article noted that Ticketmaster had taken RMG to court, and now a judge has banned the sale of the software. There are certainly plenty of reasons to want to make the ticket buying process more fair — but it does seem questionable that this needed to end up in court. Basically Ticketmaster is admitting that it doesn’t have the technical chops to build a site that can actually limit how many tickets an individual can buy (or to come up with an entirely different system that allocates tickets more fairly). While what RMG is doing does seem unfortunate, why should it be illegal?

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Companies: rmg technologies, ticketmaster

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Comments on “Judge Orders Software Firm To Stop Selling Software For Beating Ticketmaster's Ticket Queue”

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31 Comments
Overcast says:

Maybe they should sell them at the door only.
Fixes that problem.

I do admit – I won’t bother to buy tickets anymore. you can’t really get them from the source, there are always a couple of middlemen getting a cut too.

Sorry, they just too pricey for what you get out of it.

Then they want 7.50 for a beer at the stadium and I can’t even smoke… lol

Hmm, Home, TV… indeed 🙂

Chris (user link) says:

Ticketmaster

Screw Ticketmaster anyways. They basically buy all the tickets from a venue before any of the fans can, then sell the tix to the fans with a ‘service fee’ (somehow that’s not considered scalping, which is illegal in my state) and now when someone beats them at their own game, they cry foul. Ticketmaster, Tickets.com and all those that do this are evil and I support any threat to their business model.

Casper says:

Re: Ummmm

This is not a threat to their business model. It allows one person to buy all of the available tickets at once…from ticketmaster…RTFA.

Actually, it is a threat to their model, just not a competitive threat as we would normally consider it. They are assuming that people will buy from them and pay their markup. If other companies are constantly taking all the sales before the individual customer can buy them, the individuals will stop going to ticketmaster and even trying in the first place. This would open the door to the competition in a big way. Pretty soon, if the companies that are autobuying all of ticketmasters tickets stop doing so, and the individuals have found other sources, who would buy from them?

TheDock22 says:

Safe Guard

RMG is definitely at fault for selling software to get around the protections on a website. Their software should also be illegal. I think TicketMaster though needs to implement a better way to handle ticket sales. How hard is it to track if someone is buying tons of tickets? Make people sign up for accounts before being allowed to buy tickets or something like that.

Lance (profile) says:

Ticketmaster vs RMG

While I am no fan of Ticketmaster, how many of you that are saying Tickemaster is wrong would feel the same way if RMG’s software was being used to access your bank’s website, and your account? This is one of the few cases where I believe that there is a legitimate case based upon the DMCA.

Ticketmaster created a site that has a prescribed manner for purchasing limited availability goods. Thus, when a party works to actively circumvent the prescribed manner for obtaining those goods, Ticketmaster has a right to use the law as a remedy. The most apparent basis for such action, in my view, would be that RMG has violated the DMCA in order to provide access to the Ticketmaster system in a way that was not intended.

If the goods being sold were not of limited availability then I might not be so keen on using the law as a remedy. I would also prefer that Ticketmaster go after those companies and individuals that are using RMG’s tool, but if I recall the ruling properly then those entities are also prohibited from using RMG’s software to access the Ticketmaster site.

Anonymous Coward says:

IANAL, but I suspect the judge was out of line on this ruling. The SALE of the software was not what should have been made illegal, but the USE of the software to thwart security attempts should be ruled illegal.

Make this the enforcement issue it should have been to begin with, and force Ticketmaster to track the IP numbers of all sales. Then it is up to Ticketmaster to do their own police-work, or pay some outsourced company to do it for them competently. It’s not like Ticketmaster doesn’t make enough money gouging overhead from the actual value of the ticket anyway. If the use of the software is made illegal, the company writing such scumware will obviously feel it in their bottom line as a legal and clearly intentional side-effect.

Lord says:

It is a threat

Presumably their arrangement with the venues to sell tickets for them have numerous conditions and it seems likely that one such condition would be their ‘fair’ distribution at a fixed markup or they could just buy all of them themselves and establish a bidding system to auction them off. Perhaps they will even move to this model in the future although the variance in popularity of shows makes it riskier than to an occasional scalper that already knows what shows will be hot and which ones not. They will have to do a better job in the future but this is subject to escalation. So what they need to do is establish their selling rights against these scalpers.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Artists don’t sell out shows. Ticket brokers sell out shows.”

Anybody that’s ever sold tickets realizes this very quickly. The market ultimately determines the prices. There are two scenarios here, though the public rarely thinks of the second scenario.

Scenario 1: Broker buys at face, sells higher. The prices were set too low, and the re-sale market adjusts itself. This is when people get mad because they feel like they’re getting gouged (yet they still pay for the tickets).

Scenario 2: Broker buys at face, sells lower or not at all. The prices were set too high, and the re-sale market adjusts itself. The show might sell out, but the venue is no where near full.

Nobody seems to realize it, but brokers loose money on the majority of their bets. Scenario 2 is much more common than Scenario 1. Fortunately, there’s a ceiling to losses (what was paid for the ticket). For gains, the sky’s the limit. The small amount of tickets that fall in the Scenario 1 category more than make up for Scenario 2 for the good brokers.

Trying to stop ticket brokers is ridiculous and pointless and ultimately hurts the consumer.

Anonymous Coward says:

forgot to add...

My last statement was only slightly incorrect. There is a limit to how much a consumer can “gain” relative to face (through scenario 2) but not how much they can “lose” relative to face (through scenario 1). To make it “fair” you would have to get rid of the convoluted current laws that are full of loopholes and require that ALL tickets re-sold by ALL people would only be allowed to re-sell for up to twice face value.

Kevin says:

I'm torn

Has anyone tried to order tickets from Ticketmaster lately? I have once or twice, and when you tell it what sections and price points you’re looking at it spits out the “best available” tickets to meet your criteria, along with a message that says that you have two minutes to complete the transaction or the tickets go back into the pool. Unless you want to allow Ticketmaster to save all of your information (contact and billing info, including CC#) then you’re lucky if you can complete the transaction in under 2 minutes. So I can sympathize with someone who uses an automated method to buy tickets from Ticketmaster. I just can’t stand the fact that so many hot events sell out so fast.

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Ticketmaster and RMG

A breach of their security sure, but that doesn’t necessarily make it illegal. This is a stupid thing for the court to hear. The way I see it, Ticketmaster is admitting that their web coders suck so bad, they can’t prevent this. They could set up the site to charge you up to 10$ for a convenience charge (BS, shouldn’t be more than 2$, but thats my opinion), but they can’t really limit it to less than X tickets at once. I think a first year programming could fix this.
I would be glad to fix their webpage for a sum no less than 2Million$$.
Ticketmaster, please give me a call.
And nobody try to tell me thats too much, you know they make way way way more than that in a year for such a large charge .. PER ticket. Its not like that convience charge is once per transaction, its per ticket.

Thats why I only go to events I can buy the tickets for right at the venue. I will not be scalped by ticketmaster. That is how I view their charge.
Oh wait, this is America in 2007, they might sue me for such a comment. But then I wouldn’t fix their webpage for such a small chunk of change from them. Oh yah, they don’t need me, they have our legal system backing up their sloppy coding for some reason.

Willton says:

Re: Ticketmaster and RMG

I would be glad to fix their webpage for a sum no less than 2Million$$.
Ticketmaster, please give me a call.
And nobody try to tell me thats too much, you know they make way way way more than that in a year for such a large charge .. PER ticket. Its not like that convience charge is once per transaction, its per ticket.

That is too much because there’s likely someone out there that will do the same job for less.

Jezsik says:

Why sell tickets?

I hate going to shows and seeing scalpers out front. I hate Ticketmaster as they are just another type of scalper. What I don’t understand is why they still sell tickets? Why not auction them off using a Dutch auction? Start out with a really high price then keep lowering it every hour until someone buys some tickets. That’s the price. If it doesn’t sell out, start the auction again. until someone buys and the price is set again. This is not only fair but offers added benefit to the performers and/or venue (by not having the scalpers skim off the top).

A says:

TM's crap service

TM’s service has been terrible every time I’ve used them. Their on-line sales are hit and miss (more like miss, miss, miss, hit – no just kidding that was a miss too) and when big concerts go on sale, you can time an egg during the page load. They say that they don’t have all the tickets but they don’t disclose what they do have. So do I take these best random seats in row ZZ or try again and magically get row C? Only a monopoly position has kept them in business. Showing they can’t even secure their own site should give everyone pause before entering they Credit Card #.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s illegal because it states right on Ticketmaster that you’re not allowed to do it. So whether Ticketmaster should have better safeguards in place (obviously they should) is irrelevant.

And just why is this illegal? I can put anything up on a website and claim that it is legal – just because I do that does not make it illegal.

TicketMaster for valid reasons may want to limit the number of tickets an individual (or company) purchases but because someone is able to buy more than TicketMaster wanted them to does not make it illegal. Granted, TicketMaster has the right to not sell those tickets in quantity to someone but the burden is on them to prevent it. No law I’ve ever seen says “you may only buy x tickets”.

What if the scalpers bought 1000’s of tickets from TicketMaster and then turned around and sold them for the same as or less than TicketMaster? Would the current “outrage” about this even exist?

TicketMaster is upset that they are getting bad publicity about this. I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t be nearly as upset if they sold all those tickets and everyone wasn’t mad at them.

Evil Mike (profile) says:

Why does TicketMaster even care?

Let me get this straight, Ticketmaster sells all (or most) of their tickets… Don’t they make their money in selling tickets? Are they complaining about selling lots of tickets?

Forget the customers angle; if that was my company, I’d happily become the broker to the scalpers if that’s where the money is.

And aren’t they a middleman company anyway? Why should they care about becoming just another middleman rather the the “only” (ha ha) middleman?

Using software to get an advantage isn’t illegal. “Ticketmaster is admitting that their web coders suck so bad, they can’t prevent this.”

Anonymous Coward says:

You are all mostly wrong.

1. Ticketmaster has a contract with most venues in the U.S. making them the exclusive ticket broker for their venue. They have a near monopoly. This allows them to charge the ticket fee, convienence fee, print on my own printer fee, $5 for a 40 cent stamp fee… You, me AND the automated purchase pays these fees. Pearl Jam tried years ago to fight this, without much success. Ticketmaster is not out money by the automated process.
2. In using their site, you are agreeing to follow their rules. This is common in most ecommerce sites. A violation of such rules is a legal issue. If they say purchase by third party software is illegal, it can be defended (and was successfully) in court. They can write code to enforce this or enforce it in court. Both can be effective.
3. Their algorithm for finding ‘best available’ is horrible!!

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