A Los Angeles federal judge issued a ruling in Songkick's antitrust suit against Ticketmaster and Live Nation on Wednesday (May 11), denying Songkick's movement for a preliminary injunction from Ticketmaster's service fees to receive ticket allocations for artist pre-sales.
U.S. District Court of Central California Judge Dale S. Fischer explained the reason for his denial, stating that Songkick "has failed to show virtually any likelihood of success on the merits and has only made a weak showing, at best, as to irreparable harm."
Songkick is suing Live Nation and Ticketmaster over allegations they undertook a concerted effort to hamper its business, doing so through their dominant respective positions in the live event and ticketing industries. A significant portion of Songkick's complaint is focused on Ticketmaster's "fan club policy" that dictates how pre-sale bundles -- which Songkick's business model is centered around -- may or may not be sold, implementing allegedly "absurd" criteria to permit this disbursal of tickets. As well, the company's policy dictates Ticketmaster may continue to charge its service fees even on tickets sold directly from the artist to fans.
In Judge Fischer's ruling, he endorses the need for Ticketmaster to enforce high standards to prevent "backdoor ways of cutting Ticketmaster out of the deal."
"Without some showing that Defendants are drafting or applying their policy in some manner that extends beyond the legitimate need for a fan club definition, there is no reason to believe that Defendants' actions violate antitrust law," Judge Fischer wrote.
President of Ticketmaster North America, Jared Smith, said in a statement following the ruling, "We are pleased with today's ruling from the Court which confirms that Ticketmaster's exclusive rights agreements mean what they say, and that Ticketmaster is entitled to protect itself from third party ticketing companies exploiting our voluntary program for artist fan club presales. We hope today's ruling convinces Songkick to reconsider its pursuit of this lawsuit, but if it does not we will stand firm and vigorously pursue our counterclaims."
In a separate order, Judge Fischer also granted Live Nation’s motion to dismiss portions of Songkick's lawsuit challenging Live Nation and Ticketmaster's 2010 merger. The court did, however, note that Songkick could amend its complaint to reinstate its challenges against Live Nation's purchase of several live music festivals.
In a statement, Songkick said it was disappointed that the court dismissed its claim for relief but noted that the ruling does not affect its seven other remaining claims for relief, which include "conspiracy in restraint of trade, the monopolization and attempt to monopolize, unfair competition, intentional interference with contracts and intentional interference with prospective economic relations that are unrelated to the 2010 Ticketmaster merger with Live Nation."
The company also noted that preliminary injunctions are discretionary and rarely granted and the findings are not binding for later proceedings, promising to continue its lawsuit.
"As the nation's biggest promoter, ticket vendor, festival owner, pre-sale ticketing provider and manager of artists, Live Nation has overwhelming control over how fans experience live music--and the price they pay for it," Songkick's statement read. "Songkick will continue with its legal case and remains committed to providing artists with an alternative that puts tickets in the hands of fans at a lower cost and helps keep them out of the hands of scalpers."