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Coachella radius clause lawsuit dismissed

A US federal judge has dismissed the year-long lawsuit against Coachella's radius clause, preventing Portland promoter Soul’d Out Productions from re-filing its complaint

By Anna Grace on 14 Mar 2019

Coachella radius clause lawsuit dismissed

Coachella Music and Arts Festival

image © Jason Persse

Judge Michael Mosman has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Oregon promoters Soul’d Out Productions against Coachella Music Festival (125,000-cap.), and organisers AEG and Goldenvoice, regarding the festival’s so-called ‘radius clause’.

Federal judge Mosman dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice earlier this week (Tuesday 11 March), preventing Soul’d Out Productions’ Nicholas Harris and Haytham Abdulhadi from re-filing their suit.

The judge found that there was no antitrust injury to Harris and Abdulhadi, founders of Soul’d Out Music Festival (1,480-cap.).

The Portland, Oregon, festival promoter first filed the lawsuit in April 2018, claiming that the contractual restriction preventing acts on the Coachella bill from playing at any other festival in North America from 15 December to 1 May, amounts to anti-competitive behaviour on the part of organisers.

Harris and Abdulhadi also say that the radius clause has damaged their event, Soul’d Out Music Festival.

Mosman granted an AEG motion to dismiss the antitrust claims and partially dismissed the lawsuit in October 2018. The plaintiffs were allowed to re-file their complaint, granted they revised their definition of “relevant markets”. However, the re-filed lawsuit has been rejected.

“Maintaining a unique festival lineup is crucial for Coachella to remain competitive”

“We are pleased with the court’s decision today to dismiss the lawsuit challenging the agreements between Coachella and artists,” says Shawn Trell, general counsel and chief operating officer for Goldenvoice and AEG Presents.

“Coachella is focused on providing an incredible festival experience for both fans and artists, and looks forward to another special event next month.”

Despite the unsuccessful lawsuit, the Oregon promoters did bring attention to Coachella’s radius clause requirements, publishing previously-unreleased provisions of the agreement.

In addition to avoiding North American festivals and headline concerts in five states, Coachella also forbids artists from announcing plans to play other events until after the Coachella line-up release in January. Artists are also prohibited from publicising appearances at West Coast festivals until weeks after Coachella closes.

Coachella attorneys defended the policy, explaining in a court filing accessed by Amplify that “the entire purpose of the radius clause is to protect AEG from competitors unfairly free-riding on its creative choices in selecting its artist lineup.”

The lawyers stated that “maintaining a unique festival lineup is crucial for Coachella to remain competitive.” AEG’s lawyers also protested against the release of the radius clause letter, that was provided “for settlement purposes only”.

In addition to dismissing the antitrust claims, Mosman also noted that he planned to dismiss claims of unlawful restraint of trade, unfair competition and tortious interference. Harris and Abdulhadi have 30 days to appeal the ruling.


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