Australia | |
07 December 2006
In what could be a landmark case felt around the world, eBay is taking legal action against the Australian festival, Big Day
Out, for cancelling tickets which are being sold on its site for profit by touts...
The internet auction site has filed a lawsuit in Australia's Federal Court against the company Big
Day Out, which organises six massive festivals in Australia and New Zealand throughout January and February.
the country's Trade Practices Law, eBay claims that the festival firm has no right to
cancel tickets it discovers are being sold by touts (or 'scalpers' to the Aussies) because it boils
down to 'fair trading'.
The fittingly-named eBay spokesman, Daniel Filer, said: "It
does relate to fair trading, and the term and condition in the Big Day Out tickets is, we believe, misleading and deceptive."
many other festivals around the world, Big Day Out has been looking at ways to prevent touts from making
a living off the back of its events for several years.
With the Sydney, Gold Coast and Melbourne events consistently
selling out in record time, organisers have decided to place new conditions on their tickets, promising to cancel those
being sold for profit.
But eBay is arguing that the company has no right to do
this if tickets are being sold through its website. It follows a successful purge of eBay by Cricket Australia,
who hired investigators to track down and cancel tickets being sold for The Ashes at astronomical prices.
Mr Filer continued: "Our role in this is to provide people with a marketplace where they've got tools and information
that they can shop safely.
"When you go on the site to buy or sell a ticket, we provide the buyer and
the seller with the notification that some tickets have terms and conditions, and they should check those with the promoter
before making the purchase, or before selling the ticket.
"But really, the issue comes down to the distribution
of tickets by promoters in the first case. If promoters take the time and the effort to make sure that genuine fans get tickets
in the first case, this becomes a non-issue."
Organisers at Big Day Out have been left bewildered
by eBay's bullish stance, and are adamant that the auction site has no grounds for legal action.
co-producer Viv Lees said: "It is extremely rude of eBay to be standing on principle, potentially
injuncting us from selling our own tickets while they continue to sell our tickets on their website.
they're saying is that we really should have put "may be cancelled", not "will be cancelled".
They're nit picking, and they're saying that we can't guarantee that the ticket will be cancelled in all cases.
just fanciful. We're a tiny little company getting on with our business in a most reasonable way, and I think that that
will be recognised in the end of day."
That will be for the courts to decide when eBay and
organisers of the Big Day Out face off in court next week.
The outcome will not set a legal precedent
in the UK or other countries because of different legal systems, but it could still have far reaching affects around the world. A
victory for eBay would undoubtedly encourage the company to take action against other festivals who pursue online touting
and cancel tickets being sold for profit.
The Big Day Out festival tour, featuring Muse,
Tool, My Chemical Romance, Jet and more, is not under threat and will be
rolling throughout across Australia and New Zealand in the New Year. Click here for more info and lineup.