Can A Radio Station Give Away Tickets To A Football Game? The Eagles Say No…

from the right-of-first-sale dept

We’ve noted the trend of trying to cut down on scalping by using e-tickets to stop the transfer of tickets, but it appears that the Philadelphia Eagles football team also is trying to stop radio stations from doing promotional giveaways. The team has sued the owner of the radio station, saying that the terms on the back of the ticket forbid the use of the tickets for commercial purposes — such as contests — and also that the station is violating the Eagles’ trademarks in naming them around the ticket giveaway promotion. This raises a bunch of questions about the right of first sale on a ticket. While the stadium may have the right to forbid entry to anyone, it seems like that would be a dumb move on the team’s part. My guess is that the team’s main concern is that it only wants partner (i.e., those who paid a ton for broadcast rights) radio stations to give away tickets — but that doesn’t mean there’s a legal right there. If the tickets were legitimately bought, why shouldn’t the station be able to sell them or give them away? And, considering that the radio station was accurately describing the team when using the name, that shouldn’t be a trademark violation.

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Comments on “Can A Radio Station Give Away Tickets To A Football Game? The Eagles Say No…”

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Re: Eagles tickets...

yup, the question is “If the tickets were legitimately bought, why shouldn’t the station be able to sell them or give them away?” underscore “if”, we don’t know because the author didn’t investigate… the rest of the article is hyperbole…


There is no suggestion in the Eagles’ complaint that the tickets were not bought legitimately.


Re: Eagles tickets...

Are you suggesting that a radio station would furnish stolen or otherwise illegally acquired merchandise for a contest? I realize it’s not unheard of, but enough people can get in enough shit for it that I highly doubt it happens all that often, especially for items worth more than a couple hundred dollars, which is probably the lower limit for the cost of these tickets.


You might have legally purchased the piece of paper

But the ticket, not unlike software, states on the back that it is a license to view the game and there are all sorts of other terms about not sharing any details of the event including taking pictures, recordings, etc.
Under all the legalese though (at least on my tickets) is usually a coupon to some fast food joint that I can use after the game. That makes up for it…


Devil's Advocate

I think the Eagles are in the wrong, but here is an interesting theory taken from the software industry…

What if they aren’t selling you a ticket? When if they are renting you a seat at a game and the ticket is proof of your completed rental agreement?

Also, don’t tickets usually have a bunch of legally questionable cruft on the back of them? Why not use a pen and mark it up. If the ticket taker doesn’t object then you have new terms of use.

Anonymous Howard, Coweringsays:

Somebody, please, ask a lawyer

Is the legalese on the back of a ticket you do not receive posession of, and therefore cannot read, until after you have paid for it a valid contract?
Is this akin to the shrink-wrap “agreement” on software?
Can I attach a label to my cradit (or debit) card saying acceptance of this card as payment renders all other restrictions related to the sale and use of the item null and void, and have any hope of it being upheld in a court of law?

Doug Vannonisays:

Will It Even Get To Court?

Wow, some good legal minds here. I wonder if it’ll ever get argued?

I worked at a local NYC tv station & once we made the mistake of including NY Mets tickets in a contest. the Mets, the MLB & a gang of lawyers attacked claiming all the things that Eagles have claimed.

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the legal pressure that got us to fold, it was the threat of limiting our access to the team. As a news station, that would have been death for our sports dept. In most cases when media entities run afoul of major league anything, it’s access that the teams use as leverage before lawsuits.

So aside from a bunch of crappy oldies & pop stations on the Jersey shore, does the NFL have any access leverage with which to pressure Equity Communications, LP. Guess we’ll find out.

Sean T Henrysays:

Re: Will It Even Get To Court?

The station should have pressed on. If they become limited then never mention the Mets. “To day in sports no one cares about the NY baseball team since they place legal pressure on broad casters for promoting them. In other news the Reds won.”

Make it apparent why they are no longer being included tell the truth.


Commercial Purposes

The issue is not the giving away of the tickets. The issue is that the radio station is using the name of the Philaelphia Eagles to make money for the radio station.

The back of the ticket says that it “may not be used for advertising, promotion, or other commercial purposes (including contests, sweepstakes, and giveaways)” without express written consent.

You can do whatever you want with the ticket, including give it away, as long as you do not use it to promote or make money for your business.

By the way, as far as the “own vs. license” argument, the back of the ticket claims that “This ticket is a revocable license and may be revoked at the sole discretion of the [team] by refunding the price of the ticket.”


first sale doctrine

If the ticket in question were a season ticket, that “renting a seat” idea might apply, but if it’s a box office ticket, the “license” should transfer with the ticket.

I’m hoping the decisions in Vernor vs. Autodesk that address first sale will be applied to more than just software. It seems like the kind of crap that the Eagles are trying to pull here would fit in that category.

It’s just my opinion, but calling a “sale” a “license” doesn’t change the nature of the transaction.

I do not know if this is the case here but … If Radio Station A has ponied up 3/4 of a gazillion dollars to be ‘ The Official Radio Station’ of the Iggles and part of that agreement between Radio station A and the Iggles is the exclusive right to use ticket giveaways as a promotion I could see Station A getting very grumpy and asking the Iggles to stomp on Station B when they are using Iggles tickets as a promotion.
Which would probably end up in Station B trying to get around it by giving away tickets to ‘the big game sunday’ and not mentioning the Iggles at all.

Almost Anonymoussays:

Re: Rights that don't really exist

Once again we see an attempt to conjure into existence a “right” that doesn’t really exist in law.

I’m not sure that I agree in this case. It sounds as if, according to other comments, the ticket denotes several stipulations that the buyer must agree to in order to purchase the ticket, thus a contract is created. If promotion is disallowed under the terms of the contract, then it’s disallowed. It’s a pretty stupid move IMHO, but I don’t see anything technically wrong with the Iggle’s position.

Chronno S. Triggersays:

Re: Re: Rights that don't really exist

1) Any contract that cannot be seen until the agreement is made is not a valid contract.

2) No contract can go against the law, so a company cannot revoke the right of first sale.

3) There has to be something else going on here or most (ok, I don’t know if it’s most) of season tickets sales are illegal. If a company purchases season tickets it’s for the express intent of giving them to potential clients or to employees, ether way it’s to increase profits for that company.

4) The ticket was payed for, why douse it matter who payed for it? At least this way one more fan goes to the game instead of someone going because they didn’t want to waste the ticket (if they don’t just waste it)



Greed driven franchises will drive their fans and supporters away as a result.

Any of the reasons mentioned here or by Eagles are not a reason for this hostile behavior. If I shloud watch for a lawyer on the bench behind me making notes, I would prefer to find some other amusement than a stadium visit.
Radio station mentioned here is in abusive relationship with the Eagles.

You folks dont realise it, but me coming to U.S. from communist CS, I see lots of behavior amongs the big media and/or sport franchises like the communist exhibited. Mostly speaking the abuse/misuse of power and law against anyone they didn’t like (or felt artificially threatnen by) and being above the law everytime they did someone wrong..


10th caller gets license to view Eagles game

I can see it now. Radio DJs gone bad.

(in best morning show DJ voice)

“Jack FM has YOUR seats for the Iggles versus the Redskins, all you have to do is be the 10th caller and you and another person will win the rights to a license with which you can view the upcoming Iggles game in person on Sunday afternoon. Understand that we will transfer all rights reserved by the Philadelphia Eagles, the NFL, and other interested parties (heretofore referred to as “the Iggles”) Please note these rights are limited to the right to view aforementioned athletic contest. Reproduction via video or photographic paraphenalia is expressly forbidden, as is throwing anything other than “C” or “D” size batteries at Jim Zorn, Albert Haynesworth, Clinton Portis, and additional Redskins employees as specified by public notice on the Jumbotron.”

Oh well, I had fun writing this. You get my point.


As JB said, this isn’t just about giving the tickets away… The station was violating the Eagles trademarks by putting their logo’s, helmets, pictures of players etc on a bunch of promotional items for the radio station. Like it or not, most if not all pro sports teams consider this a no-no.

@Greg: Yeah, and you also forget that we cheered when that douche Michael Irvin nearly broke his neck at Vet stadium.


“As JB said, this isn’t just about giving the tickets away… The station was violating the Eagles trademarks by putting their logo’s, helmets, pictures of players etc on a bunch of promotional items for the radio station. Like it or not, most if not all pro sports teams consider this a no-no.”

Most if not all radio stations charge for that shit. Morons.



The station was violating the Eagles trademarks by putting their logo’s, helmets, pictures of players etc on a bunch of promotional items for the radio station.

If by “promotional items” you mean tickets then yea. Otherwise what the hell are you talking about. I read the first several pages of the complaint via link provided and the only thing they mention is using the tickets to the game for promotional use.

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