Ticketmaster Is Taking Scalpers to Court

Higs Tickets could be hit hard, along with hacker pals

Ticketmaster Suing Scalpers Higs Tickets Resell Lawsuit
Ticketmaster is suing scalpers who ruin it for everyone Photo by Getty Images
Chris Martins WRITTEN BY
Chris Martins

Ticketmaster is striking back at scalpers. The entertainment events giant filed a lawsuit against John and Patrick Higgins of Higs Tickets on Wednesday, October 16, in a California district court, alleging that those two launched a "conspiracy to circumvent" legal ticket-obtaining means in order to turn a profit.

The request for a jury trial bases its stance on a handful of specific issues. Ticketmaster points out that its website's Terms of Use prohibit the use of so-called bots to make purchase requests, and also that the site employs various security measures (including CAPTCHA) to prevent such measures.

But Higs Tickets, Higs Cityside Tickets, and various entities associated with the Massachusetts-based resale companies are accused of regularly flooding Ticketmaster with a literally inhuman amount of reservation attempts — as many as 350,000 in a single 24-hour period, at one point.

Ticketmaster alleges they've not only done so using false or misleading information — different accounts, email addresses, IP addresses, physical addresses, credit cards — but by paying for automated devices designed to attack Ticketmaster.com, which were adapted further in the face of Ticketmaster's security upgrades.

The plaintiff seeks unspecified damages, but cites a handful of ways in which Higs has supposedly screwed everyone over. In addition to depriving consumers of "a fair opportunity to acquire the best available tickets for events," the alleged scalpers have: violated copyright by cloning Ticketmaster pages; altered on-site data leading to increased operational costs; robbed advertisers and clients of revenue; and driven customers away.

The filing includes language that at least helps put some heft behind the potential dollar sign. In quoting from the Ticketmaster site's Terms of Use, the document notes that "monetary damages for your abusive uses of the Site are difficult to determine," but that, "If you, or others acting in concert with you, alone or collectively request more than 1000 pages of the site in any twenty-four hour period, you, and those acting in concert with you, will be jointly and severally liable for liquidated damages in the amount of twenty-five cents ($0.25) per page request each time that page request is made after that first 1000."

That's just for pings to the site. There is an additional $0.25 fee for every reserve request beyond 800 in a 24-hour period. So depending on how long this has gone on, and when Ticketmaster added that bit to its Terms of Use, well, we could be looking at a mighty large amount of money.

They sell tickets to trials, don't they?

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