Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Songkick hits out at Live Nation over slack document sharing | UNLIMITED | CMU


While the Songkick ticketing business prepares to wind down its operations, the start-up’s legal battle with Live Nation and Ticketmaster is getting ready to ramp up as the whole dispute heads to trial.

And both sides were in court in California on Monday, with Songkick seeking to have Live Nation sanctioned over the late delivery of 4000 documents related to the case, while the live giant was asking for a chunk of the lawsuit to be dismissed forthwith.

As much previously reported, the Songkick company – which combined the original Songkick gig recommendations service and the Crowdsurge direct-to-fan ticketing platform – sued Live Nation in 2015 accusing the live music major of anti-competitive behaviour. The key allegation was Live Nation – as a concert promoter, venue operator, artist manager and Ticketmaster owner – was exploiting its market dominance to stop artists from working with Songkick on ticket pre-sales to fan club members.

The original lawsuit has since been both streamlined and extended. The additions were mainly new allegations made by Songkick that staff at Ticketmaster stole trade secrets from the start-up and used them to develop its own rival service. These new claims mainly centred on a former Crowdsurge employee who had subsequently joined Ticketmaster.

In July this year, Songkick’s gig recommendations app was acquired by Warner Music. Then last week the company confirmed that its ticketing platform would cease to operate at the end of this month. The firm added that that final wind down would complete the shutdown of its ticketing operations that “we began earlier this year when Ticketmaster and Live Nation effectively blocked our US ticketing business”.

Back in court, Songkick’s lawyers criticised Live Nation for providing 4000 new documents relevant to the case just last month. The sharing of documents between the two parties under the pre-trial ‘discovery process’ was meant to have been completed months ago but, Songkick argues, its opponent “withheld a treasure trove of documents until the eleventh hour”, hindering its own preparations for the trial.

According to Law 360, Songkick stated in its motion to the court: “It would have been questionable to withhold any of these documents – much less thousands of them. This state of affairs is highly prejudicial to Songkick. [Live Nation’s] last-minute production of thousands of relevant documents leaves Songkick no choice but to seek sanctions”.

But what sanctions? Well, it wants permission to re-open several depositions, wants the jury told about Live Nation’s misconduct, and the lawyers want some cash to pay for all the extra work that was involved in going through those extra documents last minute.

For its part, Live Nation says that the late delivery of some documents was a genuine error resulting from a technical glitch in the way it searched its servers for relevant materials, while also playing down the scale of the problem caused by the late arriving files. Given it previously handed over 26,080 documents, the late batch was relatively small, it says, especially as it reckons only about 600 of them were actually substantive.

Indeed, say Live Nation’s lawyers, they’ve been jabbing at their calculators and reckon that the “error rate” of their automated document sweep was just 0.22%, and what judge in their right mind would be getting out their bag of sanctions for such a tiny error? Or something like that. Basically Live Nation wants Songkick to shut up with its moaning.

Live Nation also wants chunks of the case against it thrown out on summary judgement, the other topic of discussion on Monday. On that front, the judge sided with Songkick, ruling that Live Nation had not demonstrated that its rival had failed to bring sufficient evidence to the table for its allegations of anti-competitive behaviour to be proceed to trial.

Songkick, unsurprisingly, welcomed that decision, telling reporters: “We are gratified that the judge has dismissed Live Nation’s request for summary judgment today, allowing all eleven of the claims we made against the company in our amended complaint in February to be addressed at the trial”. And now we await that trial with plenty of anticipation.


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