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Judge Makes Preliminary Ruling in Ticketmaster vs. Tickets.com Case

28 March 2000

The legal tiff between Ticketmaster and Tickets.com over "deep linking" moved from the courtroom to cyberspace after a federal judge made rulings that both sides believe support their positions.

Regardless of the two sides' public statements, however, the case is far from being resolved.

U.S. District Judge Harry Hupp Monday set a hearing April 17 on a preliminary injunction sought by Ticketmaster and ordered the company's legal team to submit an amended complaint of its claims against Tickets.com. The judge also ruled against a motion by Tickets.com to dismiss the lawsuit.

Ticketmaster Online-City Search filed a lawsuit last year that centers on "deep linking," or one site's link to another's that goes beyond the home page. A statement issued by Tickets.com CEO W. Thomas Gimple today says, "The Federal Court's decision is a validation of Tickets.com's mission to make it easier for consumers to get access to event information and buy tickets."

Ticketmaster lawyer Daniel Harris told Newsbytes, "I'm sure they will interpret it their way."

Hupp ordered Ticketmaster to resubmit its claim of copyright infringement and five other complaints, including false advertising, federal unfair competition and reverse passing off, state unfair business practices and interference with business advantage. "We think this is attempting to unfairly build one business on the back of another, plain and simple," Ticketmaster said last fall.

According to Ticket.com's statement, Hupp ruled that "hyperlinking does not itself involve a violation of the Copyright Act," and also said "This is analogous to using a library's card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently."

The suit alleged that Tickets.com also engaged in "spidering," or using search robots to capture content and information developed by Ticketmaster. And Tickets.com is accused of providing misleading information about ticket availability by saying that tickets can be purchased only from a broker when they are really available from Ticketmaster and at the box office.

Reported by Newsbytes.com, www.newsbytes.com.

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