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Marketplace Morning Report

Fans aren’t cheering Patriots’ act

Dan Grech Oct 19, 2007
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TESS VIGELAND: On Sunday the NFL’s Miami Dolphins host the New England Patriots. You can still get seats online at StubHub.com, the ticket-resale website — as you can for all kinds of other sporting events. The undefeated Patriots are intent on putting an end to online scalping.
They took StubHub to court, and as they’ve done on the playing field, they won big. That’s got some fans — and civil libertarians — calling interference. Marketplace’s Dan Grech has more.

Dan GRECH: The court-ordered StubHub to turn over the names, addresses and phone numbers of 13,000 customers who bought or sold tickets to Patriot home games. It’s not exactly how you’d expect a team to treat its fans.

Kenneth Shropshire is a sports marketing professor at Wharton.

KENNETH SHROPSHIRE: It’s a pure business decision. I’m sure that the internal battle was with the P.R. people who said our fans our going to be unhappy. But on the other hand, sometimes you take these hard stances looking forward to the long run.

Shropshire says scalping has grown from a couple of guys selling tickets on a street corner to a multimillion-dollar enterprise. StubHub, for instance, was bought by eBay this year for $310 million in cash.

SHROPSHIRE: Sports overall, with all these new technologies, is trying to protect their traditional route of being profitable.

Privacy experts say the ruling goes against recent trends to protect customers’ private information.

LAURA KOETZLE: There’s never been a decision quite like it, speaking strictly from a privacy perspective.

That’s Laura Koetzle with Forrester Research.

KOETZLE: The Patriots can really do anything they want with the information, as long as it’s within the bounds of the law. They could turn it over to the authorities. They could use it to cancel their current season tickets if they have them. They could put them on some sort of fan blacklist.

Another privacy expert, Ari Schwartz at the Center for Democracy and Technology, says the ruling punishes the many for the sins of a few. The 13,000 names include people who simply bid on a ticket, but never actually bought one.

I’m Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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