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Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Paul Levy

Max, there has been no change in the language. I did my renewal, and my credit card was paid in full, before they came up with this cockeyed language. My guess is that they are not going to want to give me my $2000 back (I have four season seats) for not signing the agreement.

Note that there is a new blog post on this subject, and a new "protest web site" addressed to it


I too am on the verge of purchasing my season tickets for the 2017 season. Has there been a change in the language to date? Paul, were you able to purchase your 2017 season tickets and not have to sign the emailed terms and conditions?

Mark R.

Thanks so much Paul for fighting this. The idea put forward by the team that the issues raised here are not valid concerns are laughable. While D.C. United might not have current plans to police the speech of its supporters, it's pretty clear that the agreement was written broadly enough to facilitate such policing, as Charlton Athletic has attempted this season:


With public statements from the team regarding what the agreement does and doesn't cover, at what point does detrimental reliance kick in for any fans who sign the agreement and continue tweeting/etc. from the stands?

The team should clean up the language, for sure, but if they don't, I think their statements here and elsewhere have limited how far they could take enforcement.


Thanks so much for posting your views and analysis. I had many similar concerns that you and the individual who did the markup pointed out. I'm glad to get validation of my concerns. Should STM's just ignore this email for the time being and not sign?


Thank you for writing this article. I was unhappy when I first read the agreement and it's nice to see I'm not alone. I also appreciate the expert analysis.


I am skeptical that it is league language. As a Portland STH that just recently renewed, we received a similar DocuSign agreement, but none of that language was included. If it was league language wouldn't it make sense to have the same standards across the league?

Paul Levy

To Anthony's first point: The First Amendment does not limit what a private company can do, but it DOES apply to court rulings that impose injunctions or damages (or enforce subpoenas!). So the way this plays out in litigation is that the company sues, the fan asserts the First Amendment as a defense to the lawsuit, the company says that the agreement waived the First Amendment rights being asserted, and the court has to decide whether the waiver was effective (or whether the contract clause violates the applicable law). You can read the briefs we filed in the Prestigious Pets case (linked from the main post) to see how that plays out.

Anthony's other points are spot on. Not copyright or trademark, but a different sort of right at issue.....


I have a vague recollection from law school litigation around the fact that the teams are private (hence the First Amendment does not apply to them) but the stadia are often public (so the First Amendment may apply).

But from a pure business standpoint, I would think they would WANT businesses to use tickets as prizes etc (more tickets sold after all) and would want to flood the internet with fan videos from the games.

I am not a copyright or trademark lawyer but I wonder if that is part of the concern? But I would think they could still easily protect the copyright and trademarks without going this far.

All very strange.

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