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Tennessee Tickets Bill Breaks the Internet and is Unfair to Fans

A Tennessee bill supported by ticketing giant TicketMaster could harm Internet users everywhere, and for some of the world’s largest and most popular online services.

Ostensibly aimed at cracking down on ticket scalpers, the proposed Fairness in Ticketing Act would prohibit websites like ESPN and Google from having Internet addresses containing trademarked terms. makes it easy for fans of the University of Tennessee “Volunteers” to find the latest scores by visiting  But since “Volunteers” is trademarked, ESPN would either have to ask permission from UT or alter its website labels.

Under this act, Google would commit a crime if a user searched for the trademarked term “Tennessee Titans” since the returned search page is labeled with the trademarked term “Titans.” ( …=tennessee%20titans%).

This website labeling convention is commonplace, and the proposed measure would impact potentially thousands of sites.

This website labeling convention is commonplace, and the proposed measure would impact potentially thousands of sites.

It’s hard to know exactly what the bill authors’ intentions were, but hopefully forcing Internet companies throughout the nation to change how they use Internet addresses wasn’t in their initial plan.

Of course, if lawmakers do manage to repair the offending language, they will still be left with a bad bill, that harms Tennessee ticket buyers, far more than it helps them.

By imposing strict rules on how tickets are sold, distributed and used, the measure dramatically limits the ability of consumers to give away, sell or transfer the tickets that they lawfully purchase. Even more odiously, it opens the door for TicketMaster – the bill’s most ardent supporter – to soak Tennesseans for millions of dollars worth of bogus “transfer” fees if they want to sell their tickets (or even give them away).

Supporters of the bill have tried to talk their way around the avalanche of new fees that are an ironclad certainty if the measure passes, but anyone who has bought a ticket to anything in the past decade know that nothing is free with TicketMaster.

By trotting out the chimera of rampant scalping, bill advocates are also doing their best to obscure the actual record of ticket deregulation in Tennessee. As we said in our testimony.

“In the 20 years since Tennessee allowed open markets for ticket resale, consumers have enjoyed greater choice and opportunity to buy and sell tickets to their favorite events.  The rise of online ticket exchanges has brought more competition, safety, and convenience to sports and music fans.  But Section 62-45-107(2) would allow venues and TicketMaster to revoke this choice and convenience for Tennessee sports and concert fans.”

As advocates of the Internet, above everything else, NetChoice’s biggest concern is making sure the Internet addressing language doesn’t cause widespread unintended disruption and damage throughout the Internet. But if Tennessee lawmakers really want to do citizens a favor, they’ll reject this bill entirely.