US appeals court rejects Live Nation antitrust lawsuit

Featured image credit: A. L. on Unsplash

Entertainment giant Live Nation has avoided an antitrust lawsuit accusing it and Ticketmaster of exploiting its market power, and forcing inflated prices on fans. 

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit yesterday (Monday) upheld a previous ruling and rejected a class-action lawsuit, as fans and concertgoers forfeited their right to sue when purchasing their tickets. This means that they would have to settle any disputes with Ticketmaster via private arbitration rather than in open court.

As part of the appeal, attorneys for the plaintiffs had challenged the validity of the agreement between fans and Ticketmaster, arguing that it had not been presented clearly enough to customers.

Judge Danny J. Boggs wrote: “At three independent stages — when creating an account, signing into an account, and completing a purchase — Ticketmaster and Live Nation webpage users are presented with a confirmation button above which text informs the user that, by clicking on this button, ‘you agree to our Terms of Use’.

“A reasonable user would have seen the notice and been able to locate the terms via hyperlink.”

Live Nation and Ticketmaster are currently under scrutiny following the Taylor Swift pre-sales at the end of last year, and the subsequent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on competition in the industry.

This particular case was filed back in 2020, and included similar concerns to those felt today around Live Nation’s dominance in the US market, following the two companies’ merger in 2010. The case was tossed out and a federal judge ruled in 2021 that Live Nation and Ticketmaster customers clearly had access to the terms and conditions before proceeding, and this was upheld in Monday’s ruling.

On Live Nation’s representation of the terms and conditions, the appeals court said: “Appellees’ notice is conspicuously displayed directly above or below the action button at each of three independent stages that a user must complete before purchasing tickets. Crucially, the ‘Terms of Use’ hyperlink is conspicuously distinguished from the surrounding text in bright blue font, making its presence readily apparent.”