While concerts may be lacking recently, the execs at TicketMaster are being kept busy by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York. According to a press release the office posted on their website on Wednesday, Dec. 30, Ticketmaster must pay $10 Million “to resolve charges that it repeatedly accessed without authorization the computer systems of a competitor.”
Yes, you read that right.
“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly – and illegally – accessed a competitor’s computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,” stated Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme. “Further, Ticketmaster’s employees brazenly held a division-wide ‘summit’ at which the stolen passwords were used to access the victim company’s computers, as if that were an appropriate business tactic.”
It looks like a former employee of one of their competitors, which the U.S. Attorney doesn’t name, came to work at Ticketmaster, and presented them with the competitors’ proprietary information, which, of course, is highly illegal.
According to the U.S. Attorney's office, “In November 2013, while employed by Live Nation, Coconspirator-1 shared with Zaidi and another Ticketmaster employee the URLs for draft ticketing web pages that the victim company had built for an artist, but had not disseminated to the public. In response to a Ticketmaster executive explaining that the goal was to “choke off [victim company]” and “steal back one of [victim company]’s signature clients,” Coconspirator-1 offered that Ticketmaster could “cut [victim company] off at the knees” if they could win back presale ticketing business for a second major artist that was a client of the victim company.”
After named CoConspirator-1 was promoted to “Director of Client Relations”, they and other employees accessed their competitors’ ticket sales dashboard for specific artists, whom they had hoped to convince to work with them and their parent company, LiveNation, instead.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, “In or about January 2015, a Ticketmaster employee was assigned to learn about this system from Coconspirator-1, and maintained a spreadsheet listing every victim company ticketing web page that could be located, so that Ticketmaster could identify the victim company’s clients and attempt to dissuade them from selling tickets through the victim company.”
Eventually, the FBI followed a couple of threads and figured out what was happening. The end result is that Ticketmaster, and in turn, LiveNation’s bout of corporate espionage is costing them $10 Million and three-years of maintaining “a compliance and ethics program designed to prevent and detect violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and other applicable laws, and to prevent the unauthorized and unlawful acquisition of confidential information belonging to its competitors.”
LiveNation’s parent company Liberty Media is currently valued at $24 Billion.