DaveNet: Monday, May 5, 1997; by Dave Winer.

blue ribbon Chuck Shotton on Ticketmaster

Ticketmaster's suit against Microsoft should come as no surprise. Not because it has anything to do with rights in Cyberspace, but because Ticketmaster has so jealously guarded its monopoly on concert promotion and ticket sales in other media. This is just one more in a series of suits that Ticketmaster has brought against potential competitors in order to maintain their deathgrip on the live music performance industry.

You'll notice that on the sample page you cite, Microsoft is essentially acting in a capacity as concert promoter and possibly even ticket broker, even though Ticketmaster is listed as the source for tickets. Whenever a local entity has sought to establish itself as a promotional vehicle and to bypass the Ticketmaster monopoly on a particular venue, Ticketmaster sues. There have been many, many articles and legal briefs written on this issue over the past few years.

Usually, the local promoter doesn't have pockets deep enough to fight Ticketmaster. That's what happened here in Houston a few years ago when some local as well as national acts sought to sell tickets directly to the public for a concert tour at the Astrodome, bypassing Ticketmaster's exhorbitant cut of ticket sales. Ticketmaster sued, citing that it alone had rights to promote and sell tickets for that venue. Rather than waste money in court, the concert was canceled by the performers.

Ticketmaster's behavior certainly isn't limited to Houston and the Astrodome, either. They probably view Microsoft's web pages as a first step towards challenging their monopoly. The irony is quite amusing. While I can see how Ticketmaster is probably just extrapolating their monopolistic behaviors from the real world into Cyberspace, I think they've chosen the wrong rationale to justify their actions. They either need to explain that they're simply being as rude on the net as they've been in the real world, or get ready to be squashed like a bug by Microsoft.

What Microsoft is doing now has ample precedent on the net and in the real world. How many times have you looked in the paper to see what's on the calendar of events and seen concerts listed with a note that tickets are available from Ticketmaster? Does the newspaper get sued for this? Not where I live.

Chuck Shotton, cshotton@biap.com, is the lead developer of WebStar and a resident of Houston, TX.

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