I SWEAR ON THE BOOK OF MORMON:

28 Dec

The wild west of the Internet has unleashed a commerce tsunami of unauthorized, unlicensed, unregulated behaviours impacting Broadway performances economic stability in the worst of ways. Broadway show ticket prices are going higher and higher. Producers, investors, owners and union have caved to scalpers exploitation of consumer passion for Broadway shows. Scalped tickets are sold on the street and online. To no surprise, tickets are still being bought after all business profits on Demand = Fulfillment.

Rather than beat the scalpers by implementing viable roadblocks to stem the scalpers abusing the passion of show goers, the tactic Broadway took was to join scalpers in charging the sky high ticket prices audience was paying. After all, as in politics, consumers don’t boycott, they pay then complain.

The Book of Mormon is sold out years in advance. Specialty seat prices  top $477.00.  Regular seat ticketing prices start at $175 a ticket plus a $2 per ticket handling charge. The Book of Mormon fills the house every show. The Book of Mormon tickets are not on discount as are other Broadway shows for which last minute ticket buyers can purchase at TKTS in Duffys Square, for 80% or less off the seat price. Audience can buy SRO standing room only tickets for cheap. Audience can wait on the cancellations line or even enter their name in to a lottery drawing for tickets that aren’t cheaper than regular seats just another chance to get an available ticket or two per customer. A lucky someone might snag a ticket being given away for free from someone with a leftover ticket feeling in the holiday spirit.

Minimal steps have been taken to regulate violation of ticket sales from sources other than the theatres themselves despite there being printed on the back of a tickets “Tickets purchased from unauthorized sources may be counterfeit or otherwise invalid; such purchases are made at your own risk. This ticket may not been copied nor reproduced in any form. Management reserves the right to revoke any rights granted herein including without limitation, to eject any person whose conduct is deemed disorderly or for the protection of other patrons. RESALE PROTECTIONS: venues in NY: this ticket cannot be resold within 500 feet of the venue for this event. Venues in PA: this ticket may not be resold at a price exceeding the established price printed on the ticket plus 25% of the price of the ticket or the sum of five dollars whichever shall be more plus lawful taxes other than pursuant to section 2(c) of 2007 PA laws 32 or by ticket brokers duly licensed by a city of the first class as of June 1 2007. Other resale restrictions may apply to venues in other states.” The problem is not the warning but failure to enforce the policy. Scalpers violate the 500 feet Resale Protection by standing outside theatre doors. Scalpers are even brazen enough to enter theatre lobbies soliciting people standing on the Cancellation Line. 

The Eugene O’Neill theatre guest facilitator cautions buying tickets from scalpers, stubhub.com and similar sources because the ticket may be a fake. The Theatre industry facilitates scalpers by allowing purchasers of scalped tickets to SCAN the scalped ticket to vet its authenticity. No word if the scalper sticks around to hear from the scalped ticket purchaser to see if the paid for ticket is authentic.

Judge Judy presided on her TV show over the claim by three men seeking reimbursement of bogus tickets they bought from a scalper outside of a baseball game. The men sued the original ticket holder with whom they had no contact. They could not find the scalper. Somewhere between the owner and the reseller, the owner’s tickets were duplicated and sold multiple times.

There are two models theatre industry can implement theater tickets being scalped. Model 1 would impliment Resale Royalty Act initiated in California. The Resale Royalty Act provides Resale Benefits to the person who owns the copyright, providing them entitlements to proceeds from the “purchase as or not as contracted.” At issue is the willingness of show producers to invest a little bit more into the price of the show tickets. Model 2 is using design on to the ticket face of the event/shows copyright and Trademarked images placing the scalper, selling the ticket, in violation of unauthorized use of a Trademark. If the sale is online and interstate, the scalper might be in violation of RICO, wire act. This model works if venue owners are willing to pay for the design of tickets bearing the shows copyrighted name and logo. The ticket bearing the copyrighted images could become collectibles for theatre goers.

At fault? Consumers willing to pay the price of an event ticket at all cost. Consumers paid $48000 for a single 12  12 12 concert seat offered on Craigslist. No word on if any of that $48,000 money went to the Robin Hood Foundation to help the victims of Hurrican Sandy.

Bottom line, the failure of scalped ticket enforcement remains with Legislators failing to uphold original copyright  and IP Intellectual property law. Instead, legislators pandering to constituents, dilute the original intention of Copyright Law. Reselling of artwork, dance, etc without authorization is the same violation no different of the skill or discipline. Legislators are best served to define legal speed bumps that allow copyright holders to pursue unauthorized copyrights users easier in courts. Fair Usage as  a unauthorized users defense must be eliminated. Owning a copyright is owning a copyright. Using something that does not belong to you is stealing, one of the Ten Commandments legislators legislate under.

I swear on the Book of Mormon….

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