A lawsuit filed by Ticketmaster in April alleges that Microsoft illegally used the Ticketmaster name and trademark by providing links to its site. A victory for the ticket vendor would change the nature of the Net by making it illegal to link between commercial sites without permission.
Problem is, most of those links don't work either, CNET's NEWS.COM found. Ticketmaster made it clear, however, that it is not blocking traffic from the search engines.
Except for the Lycos link, which points to Tickmaster's home page, the other links point to pages that no longer exist or reside on different host computers, under a different Web page address. The links no longer work because many of the pages on Ticketmaster's Web site are generated from an ever-changing database, so they aren't permanent, which is also true for other Ticketmaster pages than those with information on Seattle and New York.
"The search engines haven't updated their pointers to Ticketmaster's live pages. Our site is constantly changing, being updated, and reconfigured," said Bob Perkins, vice president of multimedia for Ticketmaster. "What the search engines should do is point people toward the static pages such as the home page, or main box office search page."
Kevin Eagan, general manager of Sidewalk Seattle, said all the broken links will be fixed.
"We want to give users as direct a path as possible because we don't want them to have to dig for information. We're very careful in choosing links that are reliable. So if that means we need to update links to external sites, we're very proactive about doing that," he said.
Ticketmaster claims that the software giant engaged in "electronic piracy" by placing links to its site, which also provides content about events nationwide in order to sells tickets over the Net. The company isn't bothered that Sidewalk users can't get to its site.
"Microsoft jumped into this thing as if they had all the angles covered, and they obviously don't," said Alan Citron president of Ticketmaster multimedia. "They ought to just give it up and deal with us fairly. Now there is a solution."
Microsoft says it is being a good sport. "We've been trying to hand over customers to Ticketmaster if they're interested in buying tickets. This is in the best interest of the entire Web and users of Sidewalk," Eagan said.
Ticketmaster is mostly owned by Paul Allen, a Microsoft cofounder who still owns a 9 percent stake. Allen is also an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.