EFF files brief in support of secondary ticketers

August 2010

Live events industry

TicketNews.com has published an interesting story about the secondary ticket market in the US. Stressing its belief that allegedly violating a private company’s terms of service is not a federal crime, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed a friend-of-the-court brief calling for the dismissal of a computer fraud case against ticket broker Wiseguys Tickets. Described as a “Brief of Amici Curiae,” the document piggybacks a motion to dismiss the case filed by the defendants late last week before U.S. District Court Judge Katharine S. Hayden. Joining the EFF in signing the brief were the Center for Democracy and Technology; the Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys of New Jersey; and law professors Gabriel “Jack” Chin, Eric Goldman, Michael Risch, Ted Sampsell-Jones, and Robert Weisberg.

The case itself was detailed in a 43-count federal indictment filed earlier in the year where the principals of Las Vegas-based Wiseguy Tickets are accused of computer fraud in procuring more than 1.5 million event tickets by allegedly hacking into the computers of Live Nation Entertainment’s Ticketmaster division and Tickets.com. Wiseguy resold the tickets and allegedly generated about $25 million. But, the company paid for the tickets it resold, and the question of whether the principals actually committed a crime has become a hot topic of industry debate.  The Brief questions whether the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA should actually apply to the defendants, with the EFF saying that the accusations in the case are “grounding criminal liability win whatever arbitrary terms of service” a website might set out – leaving all web users open to actions if they don’t pay careful attention to a websites terms and conditions of business. The EFF also question whether the US prosecutors’ motives it protection consumers are actually valid – pointing out that Ticketmaster has its own secondary reselling marketplace, TicketsNow, Maria Hoffman, a senior staff attorney from the EFF said that the EFF believes the US government “overstepped” by indicting Wiseguys based on the CFAA which is aimed at “blocking trespass and theft, not blocking innovation”.


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