Ticketmaster’s lawsuit against Prestige Entertainment took a hit last week when the presiding judge sided against the ticketing giant on one aspect of its claims against the secondary ticketing operator. Ticketmaster sued Prestige for $10 million in damages last year, alleging that the company illegally used software programs to get around the company’s restrictions limiting ticket purchases. The Live Nation-owned company’s lawsuit (Ticketmaster LLC vs. Prestige Entertainment, Inc) alleges that such actions allowed Prestige to purchase vast quantities of tickets, including thousands to the red-hot Hamilton at Broadway’s Richard Rogers theatre.
In the decision, the California district court trying the case ruled that Ticketmaster’s claim that Prestige had violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by violating the terms of service of its website, particularly after sending the defendants a cease and desist order, was dismissed.
“Ticketmaster contended that defendants lacked or exceeded their authorization by violating its terms, even after it sent defendants a cease and desist letter outlining the alleged violations,” writes Jeffrey Neuburger in his analysis of the decision on the New Media and Technology Law Blog. “In dismissing the claim, the court found that Ticketmaster’s cease and desist letter had “not shown that it rescinded permission from Defendants to use its website.”
Prestige is far from out of the woods on the lawsuit as a whole, however. Even the decision issued in their favor could be reversed if Ticketmaster can introduce evidence that it had taken steps to block Prestige from its systems (Neuburger uses examples like closing accounts or blocking IP addresses), or can show that the defendants “implemented ‘hacks’ and ‘backdoors’ to enable bots to gain access to Ticketmaster’s systems to purchase tickets.”
As Neuburger puts it “Despite trimming the causes of action in the complaint… Ticketmaster’s remaining claims are formidable. It will be interesting to see how this litigation proceeds, including how the court analyzes the DCMA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and state law claims in the context of an unwanted network access dispute.”