State Appeals Court Rules for Online Ticketing Site Under Federal Communications Law
By Geng Chen – Edited by Lauren Henry
Hill v. StubHub, Inc., NO. COA11-685, 2012 WL 696223 (N.C. App. Ct. March 6, 2012)
The Court of Appeals of North Carolina reversed the Guilford County Superior Court’s grant of summary judgment for the plaintiffs in an unfair and deceptive trade practices case arising out of the 2007 “Miley Cyrus as Hannah Montana” concert tour. The trial court found StubHub in violation of N.C. Gen.Stat. § 14–344, which prohibits a seller from reselling tickets for more than $3 over their “face value.” It also rejected StubHub’s argument that it was immune from liability under 47 U.S.C. § 230, which provides immunity to liability to providers or users of interactive computer services, who act as publishers or speakers of information provided by another information content provider.
The Court of Appeals conducted a de novo review of the trial court’s summary judgment decision on the issue of the scope of 47 U.S.C. § 230 immunity, an issue of first impression in North Carolina. The court held that StubHub acted not as a seller but as a broker, making § 230 immunity applicable. The court also held that StubHub was not liable under North Carolina law for the fees it charged the ticket-seller for use of the site because it was not the seller or the seller’s agent in the transaction.