Business News Legal Live Business

Ozzy Osbourne hits back at AEG over venue bookings lawsuit

By | Published on Wednesday 4 July 2018

Ozzy Osbourne

Lawyers for Ozzy Osbourne have hit back at AEG in the ongoing dispute over major venue operators linking bookings at their different spaces, mainly in a bid to secure big acts for their LA arenas. Attorneys say that AEG has deliberately misled the court in its bid to have Osbourne’s lawsuit over the venue booking squabbles dismissed.

A quick recap. Last summer it emerged that AEG had started linking bookings at venues it operates in London and LA, namely The O2 and the Staples Center. It was alleged that artists who wanted to play the former were being pressured to also play the latter when in LA, as opposed to rival Los Angeles venue the Forum, which is run by MSG.

When criticised over this linking of venue bookings, AEG countered that MSG had started it by linking bookings at its flagship New York venue Madison Square Garden with the Forum. Live Nation then chipped in to moan about AEG’s venue linking practices, prompting AEG to question why it hadn’t likewise criticised MSG, before noting that maybe it was because the MSG venues use Live Nation’s Ticketmaster.

All that squabbling led to talk about venue operators being in breach of certain competition laws, which in turn led to Ozzy Osbourne filing an antitrust action against AEG in the US in March. The lawsuit relates to a Live Nation promoted tour and efforts by AEG to link bookings at The O2 and the Staples Center.

That linking was a “tying agreement” banned under American law, said Osbourne’s lawsuit. But – AEG subsequently argued last month – the document outlining that venue linking was an agreement between it and Live Nation. Therefore said document didn’t limit Osbourne himself, who could perform anywhere in LA, just not with Live Nation.

AEG requested that the entire case be dismissed on that basis, while also criticising other elements of Osbourne’s lawsuit. But now Osbourne’s lawyers are fighting back, arguing that the agreement between AEG and Live Nation very much bound the musician too.

Legal man Dan Wall writes in a submission to the court: “Factually, AEG misrepresents its own practices with respect to the tying requirement it enforces. The formal venue hire agreement for the O2 referenced in the Staples Center commitment unambiguously requires the promoter to ensure that the artist plays Staples when in Los Angeles”.

The submission adds: “An artist’s promoter is his business representative, so agreements that a promoter signs bind the artist. The resulting contract requires Live Nation to direct Ozzy’s tour routing in a variety of significant respects, imposing an obligation on Ozzy to play or not play shows at various venues subject to the conditions established by the agreement”.

And so the squabble continues.