May 10, 2006

A Cause I Can Support Wholeheartedly

by PG

A few days at Legal Aid is a surprisingly good preparation for starting one's summer associate position, particularly for someone like me who spent 1L summer as a research assistant. There are the obvious things that help, like gaining experience in working with full-fledged lawyers on a real case with real deadlines (I'm in a slow moment waiting for someone else's edits, but anticipate being here until the midnight run to the courthouse's night dropbox.) After two months spent mostly in my pajamas, having to get presentable and on the subway each day is excellent practice as well.

There's another useful element that I hadn't anticipated: trying to do good legal work for an unsympathetic client. Much as the big law firms work on behalf of huge pharmaceutical companies trying to keep up the price of HIV treatment medication, and major components of the military-industrial complex, Legal Aid inevitably gets its share of former drug dealers and other unappetizing folk. Appellate litigation is the way to go on cases like this, as one can disassociate from the facts of the entity represented and just focus on the legal questions.

If you really want to get me fired up for a lawsuit, however, let me work on a case against Ticketmaster. Please.

In a moment of hope that I would live to see it, I bought tickets for Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and made the mistake of doing so on ticketmaster.com, assuming that it was the only online option. On the contrary, tickets also are available through the Nissan Pavilion website, the service on which (etix.com) appears to be much more customer-friendly. Ticketmaster wanted to charge me for the privilege of printing out tickets with my own ink and paper and sparing them the cost of doing so. I decided to forgo that for the free option of getting tickets delivered to my billing address within 48 hours of the concert; insert quick change of the billing address on my card so I'd actually be at it on that day. Etix.com wasn't going to charge me for standard mail, offered the print-at-home option for free, and had the various service charges add up to $3.90 less than I was charged at ticketmaster.com.

#$%^&!

My grudge against Ticketmaster became really fierce several years ago when I tried to buy tickets to see Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, and was unable to get through by phone or internet, commandeered a friend's car to drive to an outlet only to find that it didn't sell tickets to concerts in different time zone, and generally felt mildly homicidal due to sheer frustration. The inability to handle a heavy load on their telecommunications that they know will be coming seems really inexcusable once you know that Ruth Gauweiler is monitoring such things. (WSJ, wire)

Yes, I realize the existence of etix.com and the simultaneous availability of shows on it and Ticketbastard takes away the best ground on which to sue Ticketmaster, i.e. its monopoly created through exclusive long-term contracts with venues. The Clinton Justice Department called this one correctly: the advent of the internet and widespread PC ownership and access allows competitors to bypass Ticketmaster's lumbering network of computers to which only the phone operators and approved outlets had access. Nissan Pavilion's system is also an unnecessary blow to a Note idea that I had already dropped last year, which was to look at the trend of self-ticketing by venues and whether that was itself a form of monopoly based on the essential facilities theory implied by the Supreme Court's unanimous affirmation of the 10th Circuit in Aspen Skiing v. Aspen Highlands, explicitly declared in that and other circuit opinions. A professor killed that thought by explaining that Aspen Skiing (though not explicitly overruled even by Scalia's opinion in Verizon v. Trinko, I whined) is so late '80s-early '90s and not to be relied upon by any 21st century antitrust writer.

May 10, 2006 04:28 PM | TrackBack
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