INNOVATE is the online magazine by and for AIPLA members from IP law students all the way through retired practitioners. Designed as an online publication, INNOVATE features magazine-like articles on a wide variety of topics in IP law.



Tricky Ticket Websites

Jamie Clark


Picture this scenario: You discover that your favorite artist has announced a long-awaited tour, the must-see musical is coming to your town, or the top mixed martial artist is facing off against their fiercest rival. Excitedly, you go online and enter the artist’s, musical’s, or fighter’s name into the search bar, and to your astonishment and good fortune, the top search results display available tickets! You click on the website and make your purchase, only to later realize that the tickets aren’t officially on sale yet or that you’ve paid significantly more than the going ticket price. Or, to make matters worse, you arrive at the venue and present your tickets, only to be told that your assigned seats don’t exist. What happened? How is this possible? You bought your tickets from the venue’s website, or so you thought.

These scenarios result from deceptive or “white label” sites; these sites utilize URLs, site names, and site designs that closely resemble venues, artists, or primary ticket sites and employ paid advertising to appear as the top results for internet searches.[1] These websites give rise to several concerns, including the potential sale of speculative tickets[2], fans being duped into believing they are purchasing tickets from an official source (sometimes inaccurately listed as at face value)[3], and the tendency for fees and ticket prices to be higher compared to other resale platforms, even when similar tickets are accessible from the original seller at a lower cost[4]. Primary sellers, secondary sellers, governmental entities, and consumer advocacy groups agree these sites are problematic.[5]

The life of a ticket begins in the primary market, where the event is organized, and typically, where tickets are initially made available for sale.[6] In the world of concerts, it’s usually the promoter’s job to book the talent and secure the venues, and then all three parties—promoter, talent, and venue—come together to work out a revenue-sharing agreement.[7] Sometimes, the promoter and act work together more so as partners to decide the ticket price.[8]  The venue manages ticket sales, often through an arrangement with a ticketing agency.[9] While fans can purchase tickets directly at the venue’s box office, the ticketing agency sells most of the tickets because it has a broader outreach than the venue.[10] Usually, the ticket’s cost of entry is displayed on the ticket itself and is commonly referred to as the “face value.”[11] The secondary market encompasses activities revolving around the resale of tickets, whether initially bought from the primary market or obtained through other means.[12] In the secondary market, you’ll find professional ticket brokers who buy tickets to resell them at a profit by marking up the price from the ticket’s original face value.[13] Ticket brokers can take the form of either individuals or business entities.[14] Sellers and buyers of resold tickets transact online through secondary ticket exchange platforms[15]; some resellers may be consumers who can no longer attend or see an opportunity to profit, but most resellers are professional brokers.[16] 

Speculative tickets involve the resale of tickets that the seller doesn’t actually possess; instead, they aim to locate the tickets at a lower cost and profit from the resale.[17]  Fans purchase “options” and specify their preferred seating area within the venue.[18] Even when a website clarifies that it doesn’t possess the actual tickets at that moment and cannot guarantee specific seats, this process often leaves fans perplexed, as they may mistakenly believe they have secured actual tickets.[19]  Speculative websites may advertise shows that haven’t gone on sale yet, and fans remain unaware that they haven’t obtained tickets until later.[20] If the seller cannot procure the tickets for resale, they may refund the fan; however, the fan may still incur losses on travel expenses like flights and accommodations.[21]  

The secondary ticket market thrives mainly due to the initial underpricing of tickets by promoters and, in some cases, by artists.[22] This underpricing can result from deliberate strategies or simply a lack of knowledge about the true market value of a ticket and what fans are genuinely willing to pay.[23] Promoters seek to maximize profits while ensuring that artists do not perform to empty venues, which can result from overpricing tickets.[24]  The U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) cites several reasons for intentionally underpricing tickets despite the desire to maximize profits.[25] The artist’s connection with their fan base significantly contributes to this phenomenon.[26] Artists often aim to avoid appearing money-driven and may have a reputation for placing their fans’ interests above maximizing profits.[27] For instance, The Cure, an English band, priced tickets for their 2023 amphitheater tour as low as $20.[28] Similarly, artists desire to make tickets affordable for their fans, regardless of the fan’s income level.[29] Because the primary market frequently undervalues tickets, brokers have an incentive to obtain tickets for the purpose of reselling them at a profit.[30]

Deceptive websites resell tickets while masquerading as official or affiliated ticket sellers, likely in an attempt to boost their resale volume. While no federal laws prohibit these sites, there is regulation in a handful of states- Arkansas[31], California[32], Maryland[33], Michigan[34], Nevada[35], New Jersey[36], New York[37], Tennessee[38], Texas[39], Utah[40], and Virginia[41]. Several of these states have passed their laws in recent years, with Washington, in 2023, being one of the most recent states to introduce legislation addressing deceptive websites.[42] The statutes typically prohibit the same or substantially similar names of venues, artists, events, or teams in the domain or subdomain name and the use of graphics, web page designs, or any combination thereof on resale websites. For instance, Nevada, with one of the more comprehensive statutes, prohibits secondary seller websites from utilizing trademarked or copyrighted content, including URLs, titles, designations, images, marks, or other symbols, without obtaining written consent from the trademark or copyright holder.[43] The state also prohibits secondary seller websites from employing any combination of text, images, web designs, or internet addresses that closely resemble those used by venues or events websites.

Furthermore, Nevada requires secondary seller websites to prominently display a notice in the top 20% of the webpage using a font size that matches or exceeds the majority of the page’s font size. This notice informs consumers that the site is a reseller or exchange platform, not the primary seller.[44] Nevertheless, secondary sellers may use the name of the venue, artist, or event to describe the ticket they are offering.[45] An individual harmed by a reseller’s violation of a ticketing statute can bring a civil lawsuit against the reseller.[46] Potential awards in such cases may include injunctive relief, monetary compensation based on the number of violations, triple the amount of actual damages, reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, and punitive damages.[47]

While some websites include notices identifying themselves as resale platforms, the notices are not consistently prominent enough for fans to easily recognize. Despite the existence of proposed federal legislation over the years, including the most recent iterations of the “Better Oversight of Stub Sales and Strengthening Well-Informed and Fair Transactions for Audiences of Concert Ticketing Act of 2023” (BOSS and SWIFT ACT of 2023)[48], state legislation will likely be more successful in the short-term for regulating deceptive websites along with various other event ticketing reforms, such as addressing speculative tickets, enhancing price transparency, and establishing regulatory frameworks for both primary and secondary ticket sellers. However, a patchwork of differing laws, including some states with no regulations for deceptive websites, is less than ideal for fan protection. Federal regulation could establish a consistent baseline of protection, regardless of a fan or website operator’s location, ultimately reducing confusion, disappointment, and unrecoverable expenses incurred by those attending events. Until there’s comprehensive regulation and effective enforcement against deceptive websites, it’s essential to be vigilant about the source of your ticket purchases.

[1] U.S. Gov’t Accountably Off., GAO-18-347, Report to Congressional Requesters: Even Ticket Sales Market Characteristics & Consumer Protection Issues, 25-26 (2018), ; Fed. Trade Comm’n., “That’s the Ticket” Workshop; Staff Perspective (May 2020) 6,

[2] Comm. on Investigations and Gov. Operations, Final Investigation Report: Live Event Ticketing Practices, 27 (2021).

[3] GAO-18-347, Report to Congressional Requesters: Even Ticket Sales Market Characteristics & Consumer Protection Issues; Fed. Trade Comm’n., “That’s the Ticket” Workshop; Staff Perspective.

[4] GAO-18-347, Report to Congressional Requesters: Even Ticket Sales Market Characteristics & Consumer Protection Issues

[6] Pascal Courty, Some Economics of Ticket Resale, 17 J. Econ. Persp. 85, 87, No. 2 Spring 2003,

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Eric Budish, Primary-Market Auctions for Event Tickets: Eliminating the Rents of “Bob the Broker,” Am. Econ. J.: Microeconomics, 15(1), 142-70, 148, 2023;

[13] GAO-18-347, Report to Congressional Requesters: Even Ticket Sales Market Characteristics & Consumer Protection Issues at 3.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Id. at 12.

[17] Fed. Trade Comm’n., “That’s the Ticket” Workshop; Staff Perspective at 5.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] Id. at 5-6.

[21] Id.

[22] GAO-18-347, Report to Congressional Requesters: Even Ticket Sales Market Characteristics & Consumer Protection Issues at 8-9.

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id. at 8.

[27] Id.

[28] Emily St. Martin, The Cure’s Robert Smith actually got Ticketmaster to refund fans those extra fees, Los Angeles Times (Mar. 16, 2023),

[29] GAO-18-347, Report to Congressional Requesters: Even Ticket Sales Market Characteristics & Consumer Protection Issue at 8.

[30] Fed. Trade Comm’n., “That’s the Ticket” Workshop; Staff Perspective at 2.

[31] In 2023, Arkansas banned deceptive websites by prohibiting the use of internet domain names, trademarks not owned by the site operator, or names substantially similar to team, league, person, performance group, entity, or venue names, including misspellings. Ark. Code Ann. § 4-88-1203(c)(2) (Lexis Advance through all legislation of the 2023 Regular Session, including corrections and edits by the Arkansas Code Revision Commission).

[32] Effective as of 2022, California prohibits confusingly similar domain names created with a bad faith intent. CAL. BUS. & PROF. CODE §17525 (Deering, 2023, Lexis Advance through the 2023 Extra Session Ch 1, 2023 Regular Session Ch. 130, effective January 1, 2022); Laura D. Nemeth, Secondary Ticket Marketplace Guide to US Ticket Resale Regulations, Squire Patton Boggs (January 2020), 3rd, (noted this new legislation, pending at the time of publication).

[33] Maryland prohibits those who own, operate, or control ticketing websites not acting on behalf of a venue from using the name of a venue, the entertainment, or anything name substantially similar to either in the URL of its site. MD. CODE ANN., Com. Law §14-4003 (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance through all legislation from the 2023 Regular Session of the General Assembly; and including legislative changes ratified by the voters at the November 2022 election).

[34] Michigan prohibits the use of a venue, name of performer, or anything substantially similar in the domain name or subdomain name if not acting on behalf of the venue or performer. MICH. COMP. LAWS SERV. §750.465(3)-(4) (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance through Act 125 of the 2023 Regular Legislative Session and E.R.O. 2023-1).

[35] Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 598.3978 (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance through the end of legislation from the 82nd Regular Session (2023), 34th and 35th Special Sessions (2023), subject to revision by the Legislative Counsel Bureau).

[36] New Jersey prohibits the intentional use of an internet domain name that contains the same or substantially similar name as a venue, a person, or an entity scheduled to perform at that venue. N.J. Rev. Stat. § 56:8-35.5 (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance through New Jersey 220th Second Annual Session, L. 2023, c. 107 and J.R. 11).

[37] New York prohibits websites from using subdomains or domain names in their URL with the intent to mislead or deceive by including the same or substantially similar name of a venue or specific event. N.Y. Arts & Cult. Aff. Law § 25.34 (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance through 2023 released Chapters 1-521) Repealed effective July 1, 2025.

[38] In Tennessee, using a trade name or trademark, or something confusingly similar, for a ticket marketplace URL without written permission from the associated venue, event, person, or entity can lead to civil liability. This includes using any combination of text or website graphics, displays, or addresses. TENN. CODE ANN. § 47-25-512 (Lexis Advance through the 2023 First Extraordinary Session of the General Assembly. The Tennessee Code Commission may make editorial changes to this version and may relocate or redesignate text. Those changes will appear on Lexis Advance after the publication of the certified volumes and supplements. Pursuant to T.C.A. §§ 1-1-110, 1-1-111, and 1-2-114, the Tennessee Code Commission certifies the final, official version of the Tennessee Code. Until the annual issuance of the certified volumes and supplements, references to the updates made by the most recent legislative session should be to the Public Chapter and not T.C.A. Case annotations are current through September 15, 2023).

[39] Texas prohibits the intentional use of domain names or subdomain names in a ticket website's URL that contain the name of a performer, an organization, or an association such as a sports league, an in-state venue, an event held in-state, trademark not owned by the website owner, or any name substantially similar to the foregoing including misspellings of the name. TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE §327.002 (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance through the 2023 Regular Session, the 1st C.S. and the 2nd C.S. of the 88th Legislature; and the 2023 ballot proposition contingencies to date); TEX. BUS. & COM. CODE §328.003 (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance through the 2023 Regular Session, the 1st C.S. and the 2nd C.S. of the 88th Legislature; and the 2023 ballot proposition contingencies to date).

[40] In Utah, using event names, participant names, text, images, website graphics, or internet addresses in domain names, websites, or paid search results to falsely represent oneself as the primary seller without written permission from an authorized agent is prohibited. UTAH CODE ANN. § 13-54-202(1) (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance through the 2023 Second Special Session of the 65th Legislature).

[41] Virginia prohibits internet ticket platforms from using or displaying trademarked or copyrighted content, including URLs, titles, designations, images, marks, symbols, or any combination of text, images, website displays, graphics, or addresses that are substantially similar to or owned by a rights holder or primary seller without consent.VA. CODE ANN. § 59.1-466.8 (Lexis Advance through the 2023 Special Session).

[42] H.B. 1648 68th Leg. Reg. Sess.,  Sec. 12 (Wash. 2023).

[43] Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 598.3978(1).

[44] Id.

[45] Id. at § 598.3978(4).

[46] Id. at § 598.3982.

[47] Id.

Las Vegas native Jamie Clark, a former professional dancer with a Bachelor of Science in hospitality and a December 2023 Juris Doctor graduate from the William S. Boyd School of Law, currently holds a Special Events Sales Manager role for Live Nation. Jamie specializes in contracting private, non-ticketed events. It's important to note that any legal insights shared are presented from a law student perspective and not as a representative of Live Nation, the parent company of Ticketmaster.



Please login to see the content.
Register now

Innovate Volume 16 Timeline

submit articles to

Submission Window Open

Open Now!

Submission Deadline

April 19, 2024

Publication Date

June 14, 2024



Publishing an article to INNOVATE is a great way for AIPLA members to build their brand by increasing recognition among peers and setting themselves apart as thought leaders in the IP industry.

Any current AIPLA member in good standing may submit an article for consideration in INNOVATE throughout the year. IP law students are especially encouraged to submit articles for publication.

Articles submitted to are reviewed by an ad-hoc sub-committee of volunteers from AIPLA's Fellows Committee, and other AIPLA peers. 

Don’t miss your chance to be published with AIPLA’s INNOVATE! Email your article submission to to be considered for the next edition.

For more information please review the Guidelines for Article Submission and the  INNOVATE Author Acknowledgement Letter for guidelines and terms of article submission and publication.