TicketsOur legislature is debating a bill which alters the way the secondary ticketing market functions. HB 1000, misnamed the “Fairness in Ticketing Act,” controls what consumers do with tickets they own by letting venues dictate whether and how tickets can be resold.

The bill is opposed by fans, nonprofits, businesses and consumer groups – all of which have visited the Capitol to voice concern. So far, that concern has fallen on deaf ears, and the bill is moving closer to becoming law.

The unseen agenda, heavily supported by Ticketmaster and venues, stifles or eliminates competition. It gives venues legal authority to restrict a citizen’s ability to transfer a ticket to someone else, regardless of whether it is resold, gifted or even donated to charity. Further, the ticket could be completely revoked if you try to sell it online on a resale site other than Ticketmaster’s.

Supporters of the bill insist that section 107 of the bill guarantees ticket owners the right to dispose of their property as they see fit. Far too many of them stopped reading there. Section 108 clearly gives the authority over how tickets can be used to someone other than ticket owners. As is commonly observed, follow the money …

The bill gives Ticketmaster and venues a huge advantage over competitors in the ticket resale market. This is government favoring one business over another, picking winners and losers. Didn’t we get enough of that with Solyndra?

This bill impacts almost every Tennessean. We’ve all enjoyed a concert due to a friend’s generosity. Or seen the big game from our employers’ or clients’ skyboxes. Maybe illness or a scheduling conflict means we got tickets to the hottest play in town? Who hasn’t bid on silent auction tickets hoping to score a great deal? All this and more becomes illegal if “Fairness in Ticketing” passes.

Worse, it fundamentally redefines property ownership. If I buy a product, I own it. It is mine to use, destroy, give away or resell at whatever price I can negotiate. If it is not, then I do not own it. Ticketmaster’s and venues’ interest, and the legislature’s complicity, in selling me tickets while controlling what I do with them afterward is breathtaking in its denial of my property rights.

The real problem with ticket reselling – counterfeit tickets which defraud promoters, venues and fans alike – isn’t even addressed in this bill. There is a scalping issue which needs addressing to protect Tennesseans. Yet not a single scalper need spend a moment worrying about his bottom line.  He can still scalp and consumers will still lose. But thanks to HB1000, law abiding Tennesseans will be unable to sell, donate or give away their tickets.

Once again, and as always – inexplicably, lawmakers choose to punish the innocent in a doomed effort to deter the guilty. Lawmakers could have crafted a law to punish criminals? Why didn’t they? They could have crafted a law to protect and secure the property rights of the law abiding. Why didn’t they? Instead, we get government granting a monopoly to one business, stifling competition, increasing prices and violating your property rights while doing nothing to address real problems. There’s nothing fair about that.

As a Tennessee resident and business owner, I oppose this violation of Tennesseans’ basic property rights. Despite good intentions, the bill creates more problems than it solves and does nothing to solve real problems. I urge you to contact your legislators and let them know you oppose it, too!