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Two Companies That Scalp Tickets Launch Anti-Scalping Groups

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We've all seen the anti-smoking commercials from TheTruth.com -- those ads that put mannequins in city centers to represent lung cancer victims or play up the cartoonish aspects of cigarette advertising. You might not know this, but the cigarette companies themselves fund these ads through the American Legacy Foundation. In the About Us section of thetruth.com, the site even admits, "We love smokers. Heck, we love everybody. Our philosophy isn't anti-smoker or pro-smoker. It's not even so much about smoking."

Big ticket companies have started doing almost the exact same thing. Concert giants like Live Nation and Ticketmaster have long been battling the secondary ticket market, also known as scalpers, who buy up large quantities of seats to in-demand shows, jack up the prices, and make the types of huge profits the primary ticketing industry only dreams about. The chief enemy here, in their eyes, is StubHub, which made over $1 billion last year as a middleman between the scalpers and the consumers. However, Live Nation Ticketmaster has its own secondary ticket service called TicketsNow that they'd love to see chip into StubHub's profits.

Despite owning properties that are hotbeds for scalping, both StubHub and Live Nation Ticketmaster have launched anti-scalping campaigns in an effort to seemingly weaken each other's secondary ticket selling site, the New York Times reports. Live Nation Ticketmaster's is called the Fans First Coalition, while StubHub is financing the Fan Freedom Project. Both are non-profit and aim to "protect ordinary consumers from predatory ticket scalpers." In short, the Fan Freedom Project will warn consumers of the dangers of using Live Nation Ticketmaster, and the Fans First Coalition will defend buyers from being ripped off on StubHub.

"This is a classic," Ellen S. Miller, executive director of the lobbying watchdogs Sunlight Foundation, told the Times, "where you find many so-called grass-roots organizations financed by interested industries to fight battles. The campaigns present them as ground-up activities, but they are really nothing more than fronts for particular interests."

The one good thing that might come out of this totally inane situation: Both anti-scalping groups have called for a ban on "bots," those computer programs brokers use to somehow infiltrate Ticketmaster and the like to scoop up obscene amounts of tickets the moment they go on sale, leaving actual humans empty-handed. A ban on "bots" would be great news to James Murphy if he decides to ever reunite LCD Soundsystem.

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