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The EU Parliament has voted for a ticket bot ban across its member states, in its first move against touting and “an important first step” for Europe-wide ticketing laws
By Anna Grace on 17 Apr 2019
Members of European Parliament (MEPs) have voted to outlaw the use of automated ticket-buying software or ticket bots, directly addressing the issue of ticket resale for the first time.
The new legislation also requires resellers to declare whether they are professional traders, strengthens existing regulations, and sets the minimum standard by which EU members must abide.
Ticket bots are at the forefront of discussions surrounding secondary ticketing, enabling touts to bulk buy concert tickets and resell at inflated prices. A recent study revealed that bots generate nearly 40% of all ticketing traffic, impacting both primary and secondary ticketing sites.
This is the first time that the European Parliament has set a common standard for ticket resale in cultural and sports events.
The legislation will form part of Annex 1 (#23a) of a revised Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which lists commercial practices which are unfair in all circumstances and will read: “reselling event tickets to consumers if the trader acquired them by using automated means to circumvent any imposed limit on the number of tickets that a person can buy or any other rules applicable to the purchase of tickets.”
“Everyone apart from touts loses out from bot bulk-buying of tickets”
Conservative MEP Daniel Dalton led the move to implement the legislation as part of the New Deal for Consumers initiative, which aims to strengthen consumer rights. It is hoped that the ruling will allow for more stringent provisions at national level.
“Everyone apart from touts loses out from bot bulk-buying of tickets,” says Dalton. “Real fans are either unable to see their favourite team or artist or are forced to pay many times the face value price, whilst event organisers are seeing their purchasing limits flagrantly violated.
“This first ban at a European level is an important first step, with the possibility to go further in future depending on how the ban works in practice.”
“We welcome the move to curb the use of bots in this first Europe-wide anti-touting law,” states Katie O’Leary of the Face-Value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), an anti-ticket touting organisation dedicated to tackling resale from a continent-wide approach.
“As well as requiring professional sellers to identify themselves, it also enables member states to go further and potentially regulate the resale price of tickets.
“This [harmonised] approach is critical as secondary ticketing companies tend to exploit regulatory gaps between countries”
“Most importantly, this represents the first step in harmonising regulation across Europe. This approach is critical as secondary ticketing companies tend to exploit regulatory gaps between countries. There is still much to be done and we will be campaigning for tougher legislation in the next parliamentary term,” adds O’Leary.
Dr Johannes Ulbricht, a lawyer for German Music Promoters Association BDKV says his company supports the FEAT initiative, calling it “a step in the right direction”. FEAT is also supported by FanFair Alliance, Prodiss and the European Music Managers’ Alliance.
The European Council will formally adopt the legislation in June. Member states will then have a maximum of approximately two years to transpose the amendments into national law. The exact deadline will be set out in the directive once finalised.
In the UK, the ruling will be applicable throughout the two-year Brexit transition period, forming part of the country’s incumbent laws on consumer rights. The new legislation will aid national bodies such as the Competition and Markets Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority.
The UK introduced its own law criminalising ticket bots in 2017. The EU ruling follows the introduction of targeted bot legislation by other governments, including those in the United States, Ontario, British Columbia, South Australia and New South Wales.