updated 12/18/2006 9:41:17 AM ET 2006-12-18T14:41:17

An Australian court ruled Monday that a concert promoter cannot block eBay users from selling scalped tickets.

Creative Festival Entertainment, promoter of the hugely popular Big Day Out concert series, had included a provision on the back of each 2007 ticket stating that the ticket would be canceled "and the holder refused entry" if it were resold for profit, or scalped.

Online auctioneer eBay Inc. challenged the provision in court, saying it was misleading and deceptive.

Federal Court judge Stephen Rares agreed that the promoters did not have the right to cancel all tickets bought for profit — but called his decision "unfortunate."

He said Creative Festival Entertainment had included the new condition to protect the market from "cynical exploitation by scalpers ... (who) use sites such as eBay's Web pages to make large profits for themselves."

Nevertheless, he blocked the promoter from enforcing the condition at its 2007 concerts, which feature a lineup of popular U.S., Australian and New Zealand musicians and have already sold out in three cities.

The judge also ordered Creative Festival Entertainment to pay eBay's legal costs.

Ken West, Big Day Out's producer, said the decision was a victory for scalpers.

"We're fundamentally just trying to say, `Please don't scalp the tickets,'" he told reporters outside the court. "The ticket scalper is being protected within the system while the consumer can be forced to pay two, three times the face value."

But eBay spokesman Daniel Feiler said the decision said was a win for consumers.

"The decision ... gives clarity to consumers that all tickets cannot be canceled at the will of the Big Day Out promoters," he said. "It's incumbent on promoters to make sure they get tickets into the hands of genuine fans."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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