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Italy set to outlaw secondary ticketing

Italian lawmakers have approved a bill criminalising ticket resale, paving the way for some of the strongest anti-touting legislation in the world

By Jon Chapple on 30 Nov 2016

Vasco Rossi, Massimiliano Sticca/Milestone Media, Italian anti-tout bill

Vasco Rossi, who cut ties with Live Nation Italy after it admitted passing tickets to Viagogo


image © M. Sticca/Milestone Media

An amendment to Italy’s 2017 budget law that would criminalise ticket touting has been approved by the country’s Chamber of Deputies, clearing the last major hurdle towards being written into law.

The amendment, introduced earlier this month by culture minister Dario Franceschini, prohibits the “sale, or any other form of placement [on the secondary market], of tickets” by anyone other than the issuer, and provides for fines of between €5,000 and €180,000 for those caught doing so – both on- and offline.

In addition, secondary ticketing sites will themselves be held responsible if found to be facilitating the illegal resale of tickets, and subject to “removal of the [tickets] or, in severe cases, the blocking of the website through which the infringement has taken place”, with no possibility for damage claims.

While professional touting is officially out, the amendment does, however, allow for the sale of the occasional unwanted ticket, which is “not sanctioned when carried out by a physical person on an occasional basis, provided there is no commercial purpose”.

Once written into the budget law, the amendment still needs to be approved within 30 days by the justice, culture and economic ministries, although a source close to the situation tells IQ it will “definitely be approved by [all] parties”.

The passage of the act could, however, be complicated by the looming referendum on overhauling the Italian constitution – to which a ‘no’ vote could, analysts believe, trigger the resignation of prime minister Matteo Renzi.

“With this measure, the government has taken a clear step towards addressing the problem, including serious financial penalties”

The move to outlaw secondary ticketing in Italy comes after controversy in the market following an admission by Live Nation Italy’s managing director, Roberto de Luca, that his company had been passing inventory directly to Viagogo, leading to several artists, including stadium-filler Vasco Rossi, severing their ties with Live Nation.

The direct links between several national promoters and the secondary market were made public by national TV programme Le Iene (mirroring similar revelations about the UK market made public by Channel 4’s Dispatches programme in February 2012) earlier this month. While many Italian promoters have exclusive ticketing contracts with primary ticketing company Ticketone, the programme alleged that primary tickets are sold directly to secondary platforms at face value, with 90% of the uplift then passed back to certain promoters.

Live Nation Italy, which said the collusion related to a “small number of tickets for a handful of international artists” and that it has “never been asked to list any tickets on secondary markets by Italian artists”, has since voluntarily withdrawn from promoters’ association Assomusica.

It was followed closely by rival promoter Barley Arts, whose managing director, Claudio Trotta, said in an open letter the association had, by allegedly failing to take a decisive stand on the issue, ceased to “represent me properly”.

Assomusica counters that it “had tried to put an end to the phenomenon [of secondary ticketing]” and fully supports Franceschini’s amendment.

“With this measure, the government has taken a clear step towards addressing the problem,” it said in a statement today, “including serious financial penalties for those who practice this activity. […] A big thank you … for taking such substantial action.”

 


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