Saturday, April 05, 2003

CAN THEY DO THAT?: Thanks to a reader, we've got hold of a copy of the confirmatory email that lucky purchasers of Glastonbury tickets get sent to them. There’s a nice little bit about not pissing in the wrong places and not doing graffiti, but the only legal is the reference "This order is subject to terms and conditions which can be viewed here", and the crucial bit on that page would be "By ordering you agree that the tickets are for the personal use of you and your party only, and will not be resold or transferred."
Now, we're curious about the extent to which that rule can be imposed - seriously, let's assume that two people - we'll call them Jude and Sadie - plan to go to Glastonbury. Jude buys the tickets on his credit card. Before the event, however, Jude and Sadie fall out. Strictly speaking, under this condition of purchase, Jude would be barred from giving Sadie’s ticket to anybody else, and even more of saying to Sadie "here, take Kate with my ticket, I’m not going."
That that is clearly unworkable puts the whole of that under a bit of a question. It would also be unfair to say that Jude couldn’t ask Kate to give him the cost of the ticket. Now, if the sentence was phrased a little more firmly - “that at time of purchase you intend to use the tickets and that you do not resell them for more than the face value” - they'd have a stick with which to beat the touts. Whether the actual weak wording is enough is questionable.
And then, what could Aloud or Glastonbury do? They could only withhold tickets from people they knew were selling them on - and surely any tout with half a ounce of sense would have ordered his tickets in a way that wouldn’t be matchable with an Ebay account?
Now, in the past Ebay have been quite happy to cooperate with requests to take down auctions - they operate on a 'line of least resistance' basis, but there’s a difference between taking down a sale and passing details of the seller to Aloud or Glastonbury. If you check the Ebay privacy policy, they say "Legal Requests. eBay cooperates with law enforcement inquiries, as well as other third parties to enforce laws, such as: intellectual property rights, fraud and other rights. We can (and you authorize us to) disclose any information about you to law enforcement or other government officials as we, in our sole discretion, believe necessary or appropriate, in connection with an investigation of fraud, intellectual property infringements, or other activity that is illegal or may expose us or you to legal liability." Now, it’s not really clear if selling tickets on breaks any laws; but its not beyond the possible that Glastonbury could try and request details - perhaps through a legal route - of ticket sellers. But it's hard to imagine such strong arm tactics fitting in well with the image of the festival.
So: can they twart the touts by getting the details from ebay, and then stopping Aloud from sending tickets to people who've offered the tickets for sale online? Possibly they could, but it'd be questionable, could lead them open to a legal challenge and certainly would blow any residual image of Glastonbury as being a liberal-leaning organisation as they strongarm personal details out of Ebay.
There's also a slightly bigger question here: if people do sell tickets on, so what? They're not printing fake tickets to sell, so it's not like they're undermining safety at the festival. The festival set a price, which presumably they're happy with; if other people want to pay more then where's the problem in someone who's been fast enough to buy tickets selling them on? It's not even like the touts are pricing fans of a band out of the event, as with the Radiohead touts; here, the price is for a weekend in the country rather than to see a specific band. People buy limited edition records in the hope they can resell them later at a profit, some even will take a risk that a second copy of the NME will appreciate in value at the same time. And let's not forget that after last year's festival, Michael Eavis told the BBC he thought that the high prices the festival had set had contributed to the peacefulness inside the event, as it had closed out a lot of the younger sorts. Surely they should welcome the role of ebay making it unlikely anyone with just the one home going anyway. Glastonbury has embraced many of the trappings of capitalism: sponsorship from large corporations, for example. Why bleat when capitalism embraces the festival?

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