Can Bands Take Back Your Tickets If You Scalp Them? The Answer May Surprise You
We here at Idolator get all of our legal knowledge from the creative products of Dick Wolf, so it’s probably best for us to call in for outside help on thornier issues regarding the law. Which is why we’re proud to welcome the new Idolawyer: Please say hello to John P. Strohm, who practices at Johnston, Barton, Proctor, and Rose in Birmingham, Ala. In addition to representing both bands and indie labels, Strohm played with Blake Babies, The Lemonheads, and Antenna; now, he plays music under his own name. Strohm’s musings shouldn’t be taken as straight-up legal advice, but he will offer insight into legal issues out there that are a bit complicated in the minds of non-lawyers (a.k.a. most of us). Yesterday, we talked about Phish’s claim that they would go after people who wanted to scalp tickets to their upcoming reunion shows by repossessing said ducats. Some in the comments section found this ludicrous–but as it turns out, according to Strohm, the band has every right to do that.
See, the ticket you hold is less a physical item than a contract. The ticket gives you the license to sit in that seat for the duration of the event, but the vendor (Live Nation or whomever) can take that license away if it deems the right to. It’s all in the fine print on the back of the ticket–you know, the stuff nobody reads.
…when you buy a ticket, you’ve entered into a contract and you’re bound by the terms and conditions that are stated in the tiny print on the ticket…those terms and conditions include limitations on transfer. The way I understand it, when you buy a ticket for a concert, you are entering into a license agreement for the right to sit in the seat, and that license is revocable…you do own the ticket – the paper it’s printed on, that is. The rights you gain by that paper are more along the lines of a license.
Strohm directs us to the Live Nation Web site’s terms and conditions (emphasis added):
The ticket you purchase through Live Nation Tickets is a revocable license. The ticket holder is subject to inspection upon entrance to the ticketed venue, and should such holder refuse to permit such inspection, holder’s money shall be refunded. Any violation of law while attending the ticketed event may result in holder being removed from the venue without refund of any portion of the ticket price or charges. The holder of the ticket voluntarily assumes all risks of property loss and personal injury arising during its use whether prior to, during, or after the event and agrees that Live Nation, the venue, its management and affiliates of the event are not liable under any theory whatsoever. The ticket is non-transferable. Any transfer, attempted transfer, resale, counterfeit, or unauthorized copy is grounds for seizure from and/or cancellation without refund.
There’s also strongly worded language about “third-party resellers,” sometimes referred to as scalpers (again, emphasis added):
The resale, or attempted resale, of a ticket for a price in excess of the original purchase price is not permitted. Live Nation Tickets reserves the right to cancel, without notice or compensation, any order or portion of any order when Live Nation Tickets determines, in its sole discretion, that an attempt has been made to resell tickets in violation of this policy. In addition, Live Nation Tickets reserves the right to restrict or deny ticket purchasing privileges to anyone that Live Nation Tickets determines to be, or has been, in violation of this policy. Because Live Nation Tickets does not guarantee the authenticity of tickets purchased from any third party reseller (such as brokers or individuals), Live Nation Tickets recommends that you purchase tickets directly through Live Nation Tickets or from the venue’s box office to ensure ticket authenticity.
That seems pretty definitive! Strohm notes, “If your sister gives you a ticket she can’t use, it might technically be a prohibited transfer, but the company wouldn’t take issue.” But it would be a problem for Live Nation, he adds, “if you stand outside the venue and scalp your ticket or sell it online, etc.” Both the sibling-swap and the scalping are prohibited transfers, but the latter would obviously be viewed in a less favorable light.
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