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Ozzy Osbourne Brings Antitrust Lawsuit Against AEG for Tying London and L.A. Venues

The Hollywood Reporter logo The Hollywood Reporter 3/21/2018 Eriq Gardner
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Ozzy Osbourne is retiring from a legendary career of musical showmanship, but not before going out with a bang. On Wednesday, the heavy metal musican filed an antitrust lawsuit against AEG, alleging the entertainment industry giant is illegally tying its venues in London and Los Angeles.

"The tying arrangement at issue is so explicit and brazen that AEG has given it a name: the 'Staples Center Commitment,'" states the complaint filed in California federal court. "Through the Staples Center Commitment, AEG requires that artists and musicians cannot play London’s most essential large concert venue—the O2 Arena —unless they agree to play the Staples Center during the part of their tours that takes place in Los Angeles. Both the O2 and Staples are owned by AEG."

Osborne, represented by lawyers at the top firm of Latham & Watkins, explain that O2 is a "must have" venue for touring musicians because of its popularity and environment.

"Unlike London, however, Los Angeles is a competitive venue market— or has been since at least January 2014, when the 'Forum' reopened in Inglewood after a $100 million renovation," the complaint continues. "Artists touring in Los Angeles have therefore been able to enjoy the benefits of competition between Staples and the Forum. Ozzy would have been such an artist if AEG had not insisted, through the Staples Center Commitment, that he perform at Staples—the venue that AEG owns."

Osborne says he tried to book O2 for the "No More Tours 2" tour and requested February 2019 only to be told that it was available with the condition he play the Staples Center.

"Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife and business manager, publicly complained about having to sign the Staples Center Commitment, but AEG would not relent," states the complaint.

He's now seeking an injunction to prohibit AEG from enforcing the "Staples Center Commitment" on him and other musicians.

Osbourne says he directed his promotional management at Live Nation to agree to AEG's demands over O2, but asserts that since the conditions restrict his freedom and restrain competition, the time is right for a class action.

"The harm from the AEG Defendants’ illegal tying practice is not compensable with money damages," write his attorneys. "For one thing, it is impossible to catalogue, let alone value, the myriad benefits that artists and consumers would enjoy by virtue of competition between Staples and the Forum, which the Staples Center Commitment thwarts. For another, depriving artists of the choice of which venue to play in the greater Los Angeles area is an irremediable harm in its own right: delivering the concert experience that, in the artist’s own calculation, best reflects his or her vision for fans—in the environment of the artist’s own choosing—is an essential and integral component of the connection between a musician and his or her most ardent supporters. This is about identity, freedom, and choice, as much or more than it is about money."

The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to AEG for comment.

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