Depeche Mode ticket re-sales banned in Germany

July 2009

Live events

There was finally encouraging news for promoters who have been looking for legal mechanisms to stop unauthorised secondary ticketing and touting when firstly amendements to legislation in the state of New Yorks which made ticket touting (scalping) legal lapsed and then and perhaps more importantly when a German court banned a secondary ticketing website from selling tickets for a Depeche Mode tour of the country. Frankfurt based promoter Marek Lieberberg Konzertagentur had taken ticketing portal Ventic, owned by Dutch company Smartfox Media, to court after they began reselling tickets for Depeche Mode gigs which they had bought variously from the promoter or from official ticket outlets. Lieberberg’s action came in two parts – firstly saying that the re-sale of tickets was prohibited by the terms and conditions attached to the tickets and so onward selling was in breach of those contract terms, and secondly because Ventic hid their intent to re-sell tickets when buying the tickets and so they were also guilty of “fraudulent purchase” which contravenes German competition (anti-trust) law. A Munich court backed Lieberberg’s claims and granted an injunction ordering Ventic to stop the resale of tickets to the German leg of the Depeche Mode tour. Welcoming the ruling, Lieberberg told Billboard “This decision is the first small step toward the long overdue regulation of ticket sales and the restriction of black market trading. Our aim must be to prevent professional ticket auctions and unacceptable commissions that often come to a multiple of the actual price of admission. At stake here is not so much giving the artists a further share, but the protection of ticket buyers against dubious sources and excessive premiums”. In response Smartfox have said the court’s final ruling is not significant and said that while a temporary injunction did forbid the sale of any Depeche Mode tickets via Ventic, the final ruling only banned the resale of tickets that could be shown to have been acquired by “fraudulent purchase” and did not forbid Smartfox from enabling third party individuals to resell their tickets, at a mark up, nor to buy chunks of tickets off other third parties with the intent to reselling them via their Ventic website. But this case stands as a lone example of success for promoters – In the only other court ruling on the use of terms and conditions to prevent the re-sale of tickets I am aware of, an Australian Federal court ruled against the promoters of the Big Day Out, Creative Festival Entertainment, who included a term prohibiting resale on tickets, as this term were found to be misleading under the Australian Trade Practices Act1974. and

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