Australian music festival Big Day Out and online auction house eBay are heading for the Federal Court in Sydney on Dec. 23.
eBay is taking legal action against BDO over its new anti-scalping ticket policy, in which it now states tickets sold-on "will be voidable".
The site believes that if the festival traces the reseller through credit card details or ticket agencies and rescinds their ticket, that breaches Federal trade practices guidelines. It says Big Day Out should revert to its past phrasing that tickets "may be voidable."
A spokesman for eBay says, "It does relate to fair trading. The term and condition in Big Day Out tickets is, we believe, to be misleading and deceptive."
BDO's Melbourne-based co-promoter Vivian Lees calls the charge "nitpicking".
He adds, "They've thrown out a challenge to us, and we're defending our position. They're potentially (blocking) us from selling our tickets (with those conditions) while they've got Big Day Out tickets on their site."
The Big Day Out tour in January plays to roughly 250,000 people across six dates. With a 2007 bill that includes Tool, Jet, Muse, John Butler Trio, You Am I, The Killers and My Chemical Romance, tickets for the Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney shows sold-out in hours. Last year, eBay sold 5,200 of BDO tickets, according to unconfirmed media reports.
Promoters in Australia see "scalping" as a major problem Down Under, even though the law states a resold ticket cannot be 10% more than the original price. eBay says it is difficult to identify a scalper from a genuine fan whose circumstances have changed.
This year, sporting body Cricket Australia hired investigators to track down and cancel tickets sold-on by scalpers.
Festival and tour companies have introduced stringent measures, including limiting the number of tickets bought by one person.
The Splendour In The Grass festival in Byron Bay, held in July, printed the customer's name on each ticket, which were redeemed only on presentation of corresponding ID.
The V Festival in March will not release tickets to buyers until that month. Under Australian law, a seller must physically have a ticket before offering it for sale, giving potential scalpers less time to sell.
"Scalping is a cancer on the industry," says V Festival's co-promoter Michael Coppel, Melbourne-based managing director of Michael Coppel Presents. "Within five minutes of us putting U2 tickets on sale, they were on eBay for sale at five or ten times their value."