In the wake of the Hannah Montana ticket fiasco, fingers have been pointed in various directions as people look for answers. But, one company has emerged as the villain, Pittsburgh-based RMG Technologies, whose software gives ticket brokers the ability to quickly navigate the Ticketmaster website and snatch up blocks of tickets as they go on sale.
And, therein lies the problem for some, the ability of brokers to buy lots of tickets at a clip, making it difficult, if not impossible in some cases, for the general public to get a crack at those same tickets. Numerous state politicians and attorneys general are considering legislative action in the wake of the Hannah Montana concert tour to ban the use of RMG’s software.
In an exclusive interview with TicketNews, C.J. Garibay, President of RMG Technologies, said that his company is being made a scapegoat for the practices of Ticketmaster and other companies, and that nothing RMG has done has violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
“We expected Ticketmaster to adapt their software to lock us out any day after we rolled out our program. But few days turned into a few months, which turned into a years,” Garibay said. The two sides are locked in a legal battle, and in October, Ticketmaster won an injunction against RMG to prevent them from using and distributing their software.
Garibay is confident that RMG will be triumphant in court, if not in the mind of the public. “Once all of the facts are known, I have no doubt that we will win our lawsuit.” To him there was no question, to the best of Garibay’s knowledge, RMG has at no point broken any laws.
In the beginning, like a lot of other companies, RMG started on a whim. About six years ago, Garibay was turning in his rent to his landlord, and noticed that the landlord’s office was also being used to run a ticket brokerage. Sensing an opportunity, he developed software to enable ticket brokers to more easily navigate Ticketmaster’s website. This simple idea would lead to RMG growing, at its peak, to become a 12 person team generating more than $12 million in annual revenues.
Garibay created a unique web browser to circumvent the cookies on Ticketmaster’s website, cookies that prevented a broker from monitoring multiple events in multiple browsers. When Ticketmaster countered this solution with captchas which forced individuals browsing the website to enter in letters from an image to browse a page, RMG found a new solution.
Rather than create software “bots” which could enter the required captchas, RMG outsourced the captcha typing to workers in India. Thus, a single broker using RMG’s software could not purchase an infinite number of tickets, but could realistically “browse the website as fast as perhaps 15-20 users. This is fair because plenty of people ask their friends to log on to Ticketmaster to help them make sure they are able to buy tickets to an event.”
Garibay expected Ticketmaster to realize what RMG was doing and adapt their code to keep the company’s software from working, but they didn’t. RMG provided its services to brokers for $1,000 per month. They did not go into business as ticket brokers themselves, Garibay said, because RMG was a technology company, not a ticket brokerage. Its software is not the instant cash machine that Ticketmaster alleges.
In fact, Garibay feels that Ticketmaster is using them as a scapegoat to cover for their own activities in the secondary ticket market. Front row seats to the Hannah Montana concert went directly to Ticketmaster’s resale service, and as prices soared for Hannah Montana tickets, Ticketmaster actually put a halt to one of its own auctions.
While the current injunction blocks RMG only from working on Ticketmaster’s website, Garibay said the company is continuing to move forward; RMG is already developing software for the efficient navigation of other ticketing websites besides Ticketmaster.
When asked about the future of ticketing, Garibay sees the role of technology will continue to expand. “Technology will be the most important driving force in the ticket industry. Tickets on cell phones, more efficient ticket selling websites technology will continue to get better in the industry.”
The “fat, dumb, and lazy” companies of the world like Ticketmaster will be put under pressure to step up their efforts to create technological innovation, as RMG is developing its own ticketing software with which to beat Ticketmaster at its own game.
However, waiting for that to happen could be for quite some time. RMG has filed an appeal against Ticketmaster’s primary injunction, and the two sides will have their full trial in October. RMG is confident that it did not violate the DMCA, nor does it have an army of ticket grabbing bots, Garibay claimed. Lacking RMG’s solution, Garibay believes that his clients will still browse the website through more than one person; cheap outsourcing options remain in India and Mexico.