New England Patriots Spying On Ticket Resales; Court Forces Stubhub To Hand Over Ticket Seller Names

from the privacy?-schmivacy dept

We’ve heard plenty of stories about organizations trying to ban the resale of tickets to events. It seems a bit silly to tell someone who bought a ticket to a concert or a sporting event that they’re not allowed to resell it, but apparently some event organizers feel differently — especially when the tickets are sold at greater than face value. The New England Patriots apparently are so adamant that people shouldn’t be reselling their tickets for profit that they’ve convinced a court to force ticket resale marketplace StubHub to hand over the names of everyone who resold Patriots tickets for above face value. This seems like a rather large privacy violation — and it clearly violates Stubhub’s own terms of service (which is why the company fought it in court). You could understand being forced to turn over such information in a criminal lawsuit, but this is the New England Patriots requesting and getting the private info of sellers. For a team that just got into some trouble for spying on opposing teams, spying on their fans’ private transactions doesn’t seem like a step forward.

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Companies: ebay, new england patriots, stubhub

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Comments on “New England Patriots Spying On Ticket Resales; Court Forces Stubhub To Hand Over Ticket Seller Names”

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Scott Gardner says:

Right move for the wrong reason

Since the sellers in question are violating state law if they resell the ticket for more than $2 above face value, I wouldn’t had a problem with the courts forcing StubHub to turn over the user information – **if the request had come from the district attorney or law enforcement officials as part of an investigation and prosecution of ticket scalping**.

I don’t like the fact that the court essentially issued a subpoena on behalf of the Patriots owners/management, and force StubHub to turn over the information to them, rather than the police.

Kevin says:

Re: Right move for the wrong reason

Since the sellers in question are violating state law if they resell the ticket for more than $2 above face value, I wouldn’t had a problem with the courts forcing StubHub to turn over the user information – **if the request had come from the district attorney or law enforcement officials as part of an investigation and prosecution of ticket scalping**.

What state law? What if they’re not in Massachusetts and bought the tickets eitherthrough ticketmaster or something, and then turned around to sell them online? There are a lot of ticket brokers who make a business out of buying and selling tickets for a profit, and rarely are they in the same state as the event for which they sell tickets are held.

Mrrar says:

Re: An analogy

…Why not? In that case, the only people that suffer are the fans. That would guaruntee to the teams that they’d be able to sell the tickets out for every game.

More than that, they can find out what people are willing to pay for the Mafia tickets and then raise the prices of those tickets to meet what the Mafia is selling. That’d force the mafia to raise their ticket prices, forcing down the number of fans that appear, reducing their profits, and again, drastically increasing the profits from ticket sales for the team itself.

It’s .. basically win win for the stadiums. Why do they care?

Chris Maresca (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: An analogy

If the mafia can afford to do that, then good for them.

Besides, what you are objecting to is demand pricing, which is pretty much the way every other good is sold (from airline tickets to gas to storage lockups) EXCEPT for event tickets.

Why does the government regulate event tickets and nothing else?


Steve says:


What makes scalpers fans? Seriously, if a scapler buys all the tickets, then holds sells them at an extortionate price, that’s bad for the fans. They have to either miss out or give in to extortion. It’s one thing to sell a ticket or two that I bought for myself and find I can’t use at a profit. It’s another thing to make a living extorting money from genuine fans.

I know it’s not completely free market economics, but it’s effectively driving up the costs for scalpers, which will drive down the supply in scalped tickets, right? That’ll mean more fans can get hold of reasonably priced tickets, won’t it?

Vincent Clement says:

Re: Scalping

It’s never about the fans. It should be about maximizing your rate of return. Why no sports team or touring act does not use an auction system for selling tickets is beyond me?

It shouldn’t matter to the Patriots (or any sports team or rock band) what happens to tickets after they are sold. What’s next? GM forbidding trading in GM vehicles at competing dealerships? This extension of control AFTER the transaction needs to end.

RevMike says:

Missing an important fact

One important thing to consider is that a ticket is not a physical product itself. It is a revocable license to attend the event. It does not confer a property right.

The teams and promoters can refuse entry or eject any person at any time – short of violating public accommodation laws – simply by refunding the ticket price. Once a ticket is sold to a third party for greater than face value, an interesting consumer protection issue arises. When someone buys a $75 ticket for $300 and then the event is canceled or they are refused admission, they are out $225.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Wow, talk about missing the boat concerning business models. The Patriots are actually doing something to help their fans and you take that as them doing something that hurts fans?

The Patriots could raise the price of the tickets themselves if they wanted to and would still sell out their games. Of course, scalpers buy up blocks of tickets and charge much more to corporations who want to entertain business clients, but from a team standpoint, those are not the fans that buy all the other products and services (jerseys, flags, beer) or hover over the TV during away games and line the streets during a parade.

Stubhub sells tickets owned by season ticket holders. When you buy those tickets there is a provision in the contract that states that you agree not to scalp the tickets. If they find out you do so, they will pull your ticket. The Pats have every right in “invade” their customers privacy, because information requested by the Pats was only for ticket holders that were scalping, or violating their contract.

Why are you against the Pats protecting their fan base? Supporting scalping and copyright theft, yeah, that seems about right.

Rich says:

The real purpose

The real reason the Pat’s are doing this is to go after Season ticket holders never go to the games, but only resale all their tickets for profit (which they agree not to do when the buy the tickets). The Pat’s are really trying to look out for the fan’s it takes years for real fan’s to get season tickets, the goal here is to get rid of the season ticket holder who is only using them for profit and to get real fan’s in those seats.

Vincent Clement says:

Re: Re:

Your argument is that the Pats are merely protecting their fan base. You then mentioned copyright infringement. So I inferred that you believe the RIAA is merely protecting the artists when it sues people for copyright infringement. Right? We all know that is false. The members of the RIAA are suing to protect their out-of-date business model. The Pats are doing the exact same thing – protecting an out-of-date business model.

Anonymous Coward says:

I have to agree with RandomThoughts, some of you folks are completely ignoring the fact that the profit from tickets is only one source of profit (if it even is a source of profit at all) teams benefit from fans through merchandising, advertising, and licensing. If people aren’t ever able to go see a game that will means fewer fans and that will mean less merchandise and ad sales and less value of their brand. It is a good business model to enforce the rules here that the state and the team have both put in place.

I realize from a privacy point it gets more complicated, but at the same time software companies and etc are doing the same thing all the time. That’s why bit torrent and p2p aren’t really commercial endeavors, because a court would just do the same thing.

Vincent Clement says:

Re: Re:

If a team is very popular, most fans will not be able to see a game with or without scalping. It very possible that the most rabid fan will never ever see their team play in person. The inability of buying tickets doesn’t seem to stop them from supporting their team.

It’s a horrible business model to enforce. If anything it indicates that there is additional revenue that the team could earn if they used an auction system to sell tickets. The State would earn taxes on the additional revenue. Price caps never work – they result in an inefficient allocation of resources.

Joel Coehoorn says:

Not that what the Patriots are doing is good, but StubHub now finds itself in a sticky situtaion. This is why the privacy clause for every web site’s terms of service should include a disclaimer to the effect of, “… unless compelled by applicable law…” or some such. IANAL, and the actual phrasing could use some work, but you get the idea.

Vincent Clement says:

Re: Die Scalper Scum

No, teams prevent ‘real fans’ from getting good tickets because most if not all of the good seats are sold to season ticket holders. This further limits the number of seats available to ‘real fans’. Demand exceeds supply. Prices go up.

If teams were really interested in protecting their fan base as RandomThoughts would have us believe, then they wouldn’t have seasons tickets. All tickets would be sold an hour before the game. Every person would be given a number and those numbers and seat assignments would be chosen randomly. Some people get tickets, others don’t. Some people get great seats, other’s get crappy seats. But hey, it’s all about the fans and being fair, right?

Drew says:

hannah montana

That’s a horrible statement “why wouldn’t they allow people who bought tickets to resell”. Ever heard of hannah montana in a concert in MO? There’s a huge difference between a family buying 4 tickets and having a sick grandma, and a COMPANY that buys 1000s of tickets for the sole purpose of reselling them for literally 10x the price. I normally love your guy’s articles, but this time you need to get a clue.

Vincent Clement says:

Re: Re:

Because price caps result in an inefficient allocation of resources and because it is impossible to give the fans a break. Plenty of jurisdictions have anti-scalping laws, yet people are still able to buy tickets at a premium. Demand exceeds supply. Prices will rise. Why fight it?

Read my reply to August West. If teams are all about protecting their fans, then why have seasons tickets in the first place? Just price the tickets at the same price, then randomly pick people and randomly assign seats an hour before the game. Yes, scapling would occur, but so what, everyone had a chance to get a ticket and a good seat. After all the Pats are a benevolent society not a company, right?

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

Vincent, I know people who have had season tickets to the Giants for many many years. They get passed through generations. Season ticket rights are battled over in divorce cases. If you don’t think season tickets (at least some) go to rabid fans, you are either kidding yourself or you don’t know the sports industry.

Inefficient? You want inefficient, don’t sell tickets an hour before the event. Not only would that be inefficient, that would be dangerous.

As for supply and demand, I am not a Pats fan, but I doubt their demand can get any higher than it already is (and will even grow if the Red Sox lose another game) so they could sell their tickets for pretty much anything they want. I think the Pats administration knows a few things about their industry and what would damage their relationship with the customer. Obviously they thought that customers using Stubhub isn’t good for the overall fan base.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

“The fans that used StubHub think otherwise.”

Too bad the fans that think using StubHub are voilating their agreement when they bought the season tickets in the first place.

I would imagine those named by StubHub will quickly receive a letter from the Pats telling them something along the lines of “do this again and your ticket rights will be revoked. I would also imagine a cease and desist letter going to StubHub fairly quickly. This isn’t a DMCA issue, because StubHub actually takes possession of the tickets before the final transfer. They also handle the money exchange.

Vincent Clement says:

Re: Re:

This is nothing more then shutting down a competing service. You can resell your tickets on TicketExchange (run by everyone’s favorite ticket company, TicketMaster) but only at face value. You cannot recoup your service fees.

The kicker is that the Pats (and TicketMaster) charge service fees on the resale. Make money twice from the same ticket – so much for ‘protecting the fans’. Also, you have to be an existing season ticket holder or be on the Season Ticket Wait List (which requires a deposit of $100 per seat) to buy these tickets – so much for ‘protecting the fans’.

The application form for the wait list mentions that as a wait list member, “you may be offered the opportunity to purchase New England Patriot Tickets…before they are put up on sale to the general public.” Another example of ‘protecting the fans’.

Informed says:

13,000, yes that is correct,
13000 names, addresses and phone numbers were handed over to the Patriots organization. These names are registered stubhub users who have at any time since 2002 even looked at a patriots ticket. They have not released info on who bought, sold, or was just browsing. They have no transaction info, just a list of names.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

The 13,000 names that were handed over were not New England Pat ticket sellers, but ticket sellers who were selling the tickets for much more than face value.

As for Ticketmaster, from what I saw on their site for Patriot tickets, individual ticket prices max out at $125 with a limit of 8. Why do you suppose they limit the amount you can buy? Gee, thats inefficient.

As for StubHub, the lowest price tickets they have is $127 (for standing room only) with a high of $1,236.

I don’t care how many times they charge me to sell a ticket, I would rather pay $127 than $1,236.

I think its obvious who is doing the protecting and who isn’t.

I don’t know about you, but I do think its protecting me when they charge $125 instead of

Pro says:

Ticket Prices and supply/demand

Everything has a value based on supply and demand. When prices are artificially deflated to a price that is less than the actual value (what people are willing to pay), you automatically create a black market.

I might even buy your arguement that the Pats are doing a ‘good thing’ by artificially deflating prices, except that once you get there, you have to pay $40 to park, $9 for a beer and $4 for a hot dog. Are they really concerned with my financial well being?

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

$40 to park, $9 for a beer and $4 for a hot dog. Are they really concerned with my financial well being?

Hey, they are trying to limit global warming and encouraging car pooling and mass transit. Also, for the beer and hot dog, they are trying to protect your health.

Answer me this, how would you feel drinking your $9 beer on top of a thousand dollar ticket?

Maybe their attitude is “only we can screw our customers”

Seth Brundle says:

“It seems a bit silly to tell someone who bought a ticket to a concert or a sporting event that they’re not allowed to resell it”

Thats a totally naive observation of this story.

No one cares if someone buy a ticket and resells it for more or less face value – what they are trying to stop is scalping – the mass purchase of tickets purchased with the specific intent of significant profiteering from lack of later availability.

Bob says:

Just wondering. How would eliminating scalping give a regular guy a chance at tickets for face value if almost all of the tickets are sold as season ticket packages? A season ticket package includes paying for pre season games at the regular season price. Most people that have season seats at the lower prime sideline seats are not scalpers. They are LONG TIME season ticket holders.

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