Big Day Out Promoter Loses

A federal court in Australia ruled December 18th that the promoter of the Big Day Out festivals was deceptive and misleading when it told ticket buyers that scalped tickets wouldn’t be honored at the event.

When the concert promoter, Creative Festival Entertainment, printed a provisionary phrase on the backs of tickets stating that those found on the secondary ticket market would be voided, eBay took legal action.

Federal court judge Stephen Rares blocked Creative from enforcing the new provision at 2007 Big Day Out concerts, the Australian Associated Press said, and also ordered the promoter to pay eBay’s legal fees.

Specifically, the provision stated tickets "will be canceled and the holder refused entry" if they were resold for profit.

The provision from the previous year of the festival used a similar statement, that tickets would "become voidable and the holder may be refused entry" if resold for profit.

In his ruling, Rares decided Creative "did not have reasonable grounds" to claim that all scalped tickets would be canceled, the AAP reported.

But Rares also expressed discontent with his ruling.

"The result at which I’ve arrived is unfortunate," he said. "The scalpers … use sites such as eBay’s web pages to make large profits for themselves."

Creative Entertainment director Ken West told the AAP the decision was a loss for consumer rights.

"The scalpers have won today," he said. "We’re fundamentally just trying to say please don’t scalp the tickets [but] it gets misconstrued that we’re deceiving people."

At press time, eBay Australia had several tickets for the festival (originally priced at A$115) listed at more than A$200 apiece.

In response to the decision, music and sports companies plan to lobby the New South Wales government for tougher anti-scalping laws, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"There is no way that eBay is protecting the consumer. … The technology is five years ahead of the legislation," West reportedly told the Herald. He said the ruling would encourage scalpers to sell online. Australian concert promoter Michael Chugg seemed to agree.

"It is not a win for the music fans; it is another win for the bad guys," the paper quoted Chugg saying. "It is not just the music that is affected by this, it is sport and entertainment in general."

NSW Minister for Fair Trading Diane Beamer said preventing scalping was the responsibility of the promoter and that the ruling does not prevent promoters from putting conditions of sale on tickets, the Herald said.

Peter Young, a spokesman for Cricket Australia, said the NSW government should look to Queensland, which has introduced anti-scalping legislation.

"The next step will be a unified sports and entertainment industry discussion with governments," he told the paper.

The festival has sold out its Sydney, Melbourne and Gold Coast dates.