“Music’s Biggest Night” may be an expression America uses to patronize the drunk Reese Witherspoon of awards shows, but it’s also a trademarked phrase, one the Grammys wield in much the same way that losing T-ball teams proudly display their ”Participant” trophies. That fascinating fact and others came to light recently, as The Hollywood Reporter describes a lawsuit filed by The National Academy Of Recording Arts And Sciences to crack down on ticket scalping to the Grammys. Defying all logic and common sense, it seems that scalping tickets to the Grammys is actually something that happens, and the Recording Academy would like it to stop.
The lawsuit targets someone named Craig Banaszewski, who has gotten in trouble for this kind of thing before. His company Hollywood Entertainment Group (though he also does business under the name VIP Concierge, which is coincidentally the number one answer on Family Feud for “Tom Haverford-esque names for businesses”) has allegedly been selling tickets to Music’s Silliest Night (The A.V. Club copyright pending). It’s a doozy of a lawsuit, containing a number of charges that we’ll just run through real quick:
- The Recording Academy says their gramophone logo is trademarked, and is being exploited by Banaszewski, in addition to using copyrighted images from previous shows, because lord knows a picture of Paul McCartney accepting yet another Grammy is worth millions
- By selling tickets that are distributed to dues-paying members, he is “interfering with the glamour and exclusivity associated with the awards ceremony,” which is surely a phrase the Academy’s lawyers bet each other they couldn’t type with a straight face
- The tickets are explicity stamped with language emphasizing their non-transferable nature. So Academy member selling them are in breach of contract—which means Banaszewski (we’re just guessing here, but there’s no way the man doesn’t self-identify as “C-Ban”) is charged with “tortiously interfering with those contracts.”
- When the scalpers sell to third parties, that constitutes some good old-fashioned deceptive practices
- And even though it’s hard to imagine anyone being turned away from the desperation-fest known as the Grammys, C-Ban is being charged with inducement to trespass, just to really drive home the point.
The Recording Academy is seeking punitive damages, as well making sure Banaszewski and his companies never do anything even vaguely connected to the Academy again. Which seems like a real “cut off the nose to spite the face” move, considering this lawsuit is the most anyone has cared about the Grammys in years.