eBay judgment forces a Waken ticket rethink

November 2014

Live events sector


A decision in a dispute between eBay and German soccer team over the re-sale of personalised tickets which was favourable to the online retailer has prompted the organisers of Germany’s Wacken Open Air heavy metal festival to think again about personalising their tickets in 2015. Waken also had a trial pending with eBay over the re-sale of their own tickets, currently personalised, Lamenting a set back in the fight against ticket touts, Thomas Jensen from W:O:A promoters ICS explained that the same judge was hearing the W:O:A case – and the judge has previously decided  held that platforms such as eBay do not have to delete offers of the sale of personalised tickets from their sites.  Earlier this year secondary ticketing site Seatwave agreed with German promoters association BDV to remove personalised tickets from six Robbie Williams concerts from it’s site.

Nick Huper from W:O:A explained that “There´s no law in Germany regarding personalized tickets, reselling personalized tickets, offering personalized tickets or jurisdiction”. W:O:A obtained an interim order against eBay at the District Court in Hamburg to delete all offers regarding W:O:A tickets in 2014 on the basis that personalized tickets aren´t a tradeable good and this forced eBay to stop those offers. Nick explained that this is “the only effective way to fight against resellers.  However the case was appealed to Higher Regional Court and that Court has already decided that ticket personalization does not mean that those tickets aren´t tradable goods. “In (the W:O:A) case the HRC said that even if it  WOULD lead to that fact (or IF tickets aren´t tradeable), further questions would have to be examined in every individual case (every ticket offer) and that it cannot be expected from eBay to put up with all those checks in every single case regarding the amount of goods traded every day on their platform.

Nick added “The result for us is, that  we´d have to fight against every single reseller on eBay and, in that case, cannot force platforms  to stop those offers. That means, that there´s no effective and doable way to avoid those offers at the moment” – in Germany at least.

The appellate court duly overturned the District Court injunction W:O:A had obtained holding that as a ‘neutral’ platform eBay could not be expected to filter out what might be ‘illegal’ tickets. The lawyer for the German live music industry’s trade association BDV, Dr Johannes Ulbricht, told Audience magazine that the decision by the High Court “said it was very likely that the tickets offered on eBay but deemed eBay a neutral platform and thereof it is under no obligation to filter sellers out” but added that there was no clear definition about what constitutes ‘neutral’ and that he believed that sellers such as Viagogo and Seatwave “are not neutral as they directly advertise the tickets themselves”.


Audience Issue 177 October 2014

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