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Ticketmaster suit prompts law review

Feb. 24, 2013 at 4:55 PM

BALTIMORE, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- The Baltimore City Council is considering changing city ticket scalping ordinances to help out Ticketmaster in the wake of a surprising court ruling.

Baltimore resident Andre Bourgeois, 50, sued Ticketmaster after it charged him a $12 fee to purchase a $52 ticket to see Jackson Browne play a concert in 2009. The iconic musician -- no fan of the surcharges companies charge his fans to see him play -- said after Bourgois convinced a state judge the fees actually do violate Baltimore laws, Browne offered him free tickets for life.

Others, including the Baltimore Ravens, Orioles and multiple concert venues weren't nearly as thrilled and have petitioned the city council to revise laws governing ticket sales in the city out of a fear Ticketmaster will leave town, The Baltimore Sun said Saturday.

Many sports and music venues contract with Ticketmaster or one of its competitors to run online and satellite location sales so they don't have to do it themselves. The trade-off is Ticketmaster gets to add a surcharge or "convenience fee" on top of the ticket's face value.

Baltimore's anti-scalping ordinance says third parties cannot sell a ticket for more than 50 cents above face value. Lawmakers are looking to add in an exception for vendors approved by the venue to charge more in the wake of the decision.

"I don't understand why the city would want to change a good law that protects its citizens," Bourgeois said. The anti-scalping law "just means that the face price of the ticket has to be what the ticket actually costs," he said.

The lawsuit said Ticketmaster took in $1 billion in surcharges on $8 billion in ticket sales worldwide.

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