Campaigners back landmark ticket resale ruling
Campaigners against ticket touting have backed the European Parliament’s decision to approve new laws strengthening regulation around online marketplaces, including ticket resale sites.
The landmark Digital Services Act (DSA), which was passed by 539 votes to 54, includes measures to ensure professional sellers are identifiable, prevent certain manipulative sales tactics, and require regular reporting to improve transparency for consumers.
Crucially, online marketplaces will now be required to obtain essential information about third party professional sellers before traders are allowed to list tickets on the platform.
Resale platforms must also make it clear throughout the buying process that the tickets listed are provided by a third party, while dark patterns – user interfaces designed in such a way as to trick users into making certain decisions, such as “pop-ups” or giving prominence to specific choices – will be banned.
“The introduction of the Digital Services Act is a key moment for the live events sector in the UK, as well as across Europe”
The development follows two years of lobbying by the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), which culminated in arranging an open letter signed by more than 130 representatives from across Europe’s live sector, calling for the EU to introduce tougher laws to combat online ticket touting. However, FEAT argues the text could have gone further and will continue to campaign for tougher rules.
“The introduction of the Digital Services Act is a key moment for the live events sector in the UK, as well as across Europe,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob. “The new legislation regulating online marketplaces will see EU countries catch up with the UK in terms of stricter rules for verifying professional sellers and making sure fans know who they’re buying from. This will directly impact all UK artists who tour Europe, as well as make it harder for UK touts to operate under the guise of anonymity on European ticket resale sites.”
“This is an important step towards increasing accountability and to prevent scams, which will contribute towards a healthier European touring industry”
The DSA will now go through the formal adoption procedures by the European Council before it is published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, and its provisions will mainly apply 15 months after entry into force or from 1 January 2024, whichever comes later.
Per Kviman, CEO of Versity Music and chair of the European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA), which represents 1,800 music managers in 10 European countries, adds: “EMMA is very pleased to see new rules which protect both artists and the ticket-buying public have been approved by the European Parliament. This is an important step towards increasing accountability and to prevent scams, which will contribute towards a healthier European touring industry.”
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Viagogo fined €23.5m in Italy for resale breach
Italy’s Communications Regulatory Authority AGCOM has fined Viagogo €23.5 million for breaking the country’s rules on secondary ticketing.
The decision, taken at an AGCOM Council meeting last week, followed an investigation by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency the Guardia di Finanza, which found the secondary ticketing platform had listed tickets for 131 events at prices up to six or seven times above their face-value.
Events included concerts for artists such as Maneskin, Vasco Rossi, Sting, Green Day, Dua Lipa, Pearl Jam, Placebo, Cesare Cremonini, Paolo Conte and Andrea Bocelli.
An amendment to Italian legislation, introduced to Italy’s 2017 budget law to criminalise ticket touting, prevents tickets being sold for commercial purposes or for above face value.
“The authority highlights that the practice of secondary ticketing has the effect of inflating the prices of tickets, increasing the barriers for the access of consumers and Italian citizens to cultural events, also to the detriment of the community of artists, event organisers and primary retailers,” concludes AGCOM. “This is of particular relevance at an important time for the events sector to recover live, after the forced interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping”
AGCOM has given Viagogo seven days to remove the illegal listings from its site, and the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has spoken out in support of the authority’s ruling.
“This is a substantial fine for Viagogo, and a clear requirement to remove illegal listings within seven days,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob.
“What is especially encouraging is the extensive investigation carried out by Italy’s financial crime enforcement agency working closely with the Italian regulator AGCOM. Legislation across Europe – at both a national and EU basis – is catching up with ticket scalping. If other enforcement authorities follow Italy’s example, the hope of a functional ticket resale market, with scalping largely relegated to the history books, could become a reality.”
A spokesperson for Viagogo responds: “We respect the decision of the AGCOM, however we are surprised by this fine because the Council of State has already raised ‘serious doubts’ that the law in question on secondary ticketing – and the related fines of AGCOM, including to Viagogo – are compatible with fundamental principles of EU Law on competition, free circulation of services and limitation of liability of pure intermediary platforms for illegal activity of its users.
“Indeed, Viagogo has already been held a ‘passive’ intermediary platform by the same Council of State in a previous final judgment, confirming that it does not sell the tickets and is not liable for the illegal sales of tickets carried out by the platform’s users. As a result, the Council of State has referred the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union to decide whether the law at issue and the AGCOM fines are valid and enforceable according to such EU principles.
“Viagogo trusts that these pending proceedings will confirm it is not responsible for the allegations raised by the AGCOM and all fines will be annulled.”
The course of action comes just over a month after Australia’s full federal court dismissed an appeal by Viagogo against a ruling that the platform had made misleading claims on its website relating to the reselling of concert and sports tickets.
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FEAT welcomes tougher resale legislation
The Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has given a cautious welcome to the news that the EU has reached a provisional political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA), designed to ensure secondary ticketing marketplaces act responsibly.
The text was agreed on Saturday (23 April) in Brussels, after a marathon 16 hours of discussions between policy-makers.
The DSA contains is expected to include regulation meaning that ticket touts will only be able to list tickets after providing essential information, which marketplaces must make efforts to verify. Secondary marketplaces will also be obliged to conduct random checks for tickets sold illegally, while measures designed to panic buyers, such as pop-ups claiming several people are viewing the same ticket, will be banned.
Additionally, search engines such as Google are understood to face new responsibilities.
“We hope the new requirements for vetting traders and publishing basic information about the seller will enable fans and event organisers to make informed decisions”
“We cautiously welcome news of measures to be placed on secondary ticketing marketplaces to clean up the Wild West in which they have operated so far,” says FEAT director Sam Shemtob. “The devil will be in the detail, but we hope the new requirements for vetting traders and publishing basic information about the seller will enable fans and event organisers to make informed decisions.”
FEAT has spent two years engaging with the EU over the DSA, culminating in arranging an open letter signed by more than 130 representatives from across Europe’s live sector, calling for the EU to introduce tougher laws to combat online ticket touting.
The text of the DSA will need to be finalised at technical level, before both Parliament and Council give their formal approval. It will come into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal. Big Tech firms will then have four months to prepare for the rules, while companies with fewer than 45 million users will have 15 months or until 1 January 2024.
European live sector demands tougher touting laws
More than 130 representatives from across Europe’s live sector have signed an open letter calling for the EU to introduce tougher laws to combat online ticket touting.
Signatories include Ed Sheeran’s agent Jon Ollier of One Fiinix Live and manager Stuart Camp of Grumpy Old Management, Ian McAndrew of Wildlife Entertainment, Alec McKinlay of Ignition, CAA’s Emma Banks, Andy Cook and Jamie Shaughnessy, UTA’s Jules de Lattre, Beth Morton and Jamie Waldman, Pure’s Angus Baskerville and Jodie Harkins, and representatives from Paradigm, Primary Talent International, All Artists Agency and Progressive Artists.
Dozens of trade organisations have signed up alongside promoters such as DEAG, Doctor Music, DreamHaus, FKP Scorpio, Goodlive Artists, Greenhouse Talent, Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion and MCT Agentur, and festivals including Rock en Seine (France), Cruilla (Spain) and Paleo (Switzerland). Venues such as The O2 in London and Brighton Centre have also lent their support.
“We need tougher rules to help us fight back”
The letter, which comes as the EU reaches the final stages in negotiating rules for a Digital Services Act and has been circulated among policy-makers, was penned by the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT), in association with FanFair Alliance, International Federation of Musicians, Pearle – Live Performance Europe and promoters’ associations BDKV and Association of Musical Promoters (APM).
It asks that marketplaces of all sizes be required to collect and maintain up-to-date information on sellers, as well as for marketplaces to verify the seller information obtained, and be required to carry out periodic spot-checks on products, to help detect fraudulent tickets.
“I, like others who have signed this letter, am sick and tired of parasitic secondary ticketing sites ripping off fans and live events businesses,” says Scumeck Sabottka, founding partner of FEAT and CEO of MCT Agentur. “We need tougher rules to help us fight back and I hope that a stronger framework can be established to achieve this.”
Live performance professionals can sign the letter here.
FEAT publishes new Stop Touting guide
Anti-touting group the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has published a guide showing how agents and promoters can stamp out unauthorised resale with personalised tickets.
Launched by MCT-Agentur CEO and FEAT director Scumeck Sabottka, Stop Touting: A Guide to Personalised Tickets in Europe includes a straightforward, step-by-step guide on how to implement a tout-proof personalised ticketing system without creating long entry queues.
It shows how ticket personalisation can be done successfully and straightforwardly, without risking long entry queues or putting one’s reputation as an agent or promoter on the line,
Stop Touting also surveys the secondary ticketing landscape across Europe, including:
- The size of the issue in various European countries
- Specific rules and regulations to be aware of in each territory
- Suggested ticketing platforms that can be used to curb touting
“This guide uses our experience of ticket personalisation, gleaned from multiple tours and arena shows, to show it can be done straightforwardly and successfully,” explains promoter Sabottka.
“We hope to make things a little easier for artists, managers, agents and promoters who want to do the right thing”
“My hope is that the live business will use this pandemic-induced standstill to improve the way we sell tickets, and protect artists, fans and our own businesses from these ticket-touting vampires.”
Adds Nicole Jacobsen, managing director and co-owner of Germany’s Tickets.de: “Personalised ticketing is all about protecting fans from scalpers. I really hope this guide can begin to give the live sector the confidence it needs to make personalised ticketing part of its practice.”
According to Intellectual Research Partners, the secondary ticketing market in Europe was valued at €1.66 billion in 2020, despite the impact of the pandemic, and is expected to grow to €2.29 by 2023.
“Navigating the various markets across Europe, with different ticket laws in different states, can be difficult,” comments FEAT director Sam Shemtob. “With this guide, we hope to make things a little easier for artists, managers, agents and promoters who want to do the right thing.”
To download the free Stop Touting guide, visit the FEAT website.
Industry urges action on touting via EU’s DSA
In response to the launch of the European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA), the Face-Value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has published new recommendations for the future of online ticket resale.
The pan-European anti-touting group, established early last year, has issued further proposals to protect fans from “harmful” secondary ticketing and reduce illegal ticket resale across the EU, following the FEAT-backed ban on ticket bots introduced in April 2019.
Its recommendations are backed by a host of industry associations, including the Spanish Association of Music Promoters (APM), Germany’s BDKV, the Association for Electronic Music, Pearle* and the European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA), and broadly supported by Waterson report author Prof Michael Waterson.
The joint action – which follows more than 50 court cases and initiatives to try and curb secondary across 11 EU member states FEAT surveyed – comes after European commissioners approved initial proposals for the DSA, which aims to offer better protection for online consumers, late on Tuesday (20 October).
“EU action is necessary through to put control of tickets back into the hands of those putting on the shows”
FEAT’s recommendations, which are outlined in a position paper published today (22 Oct), include:
- Clear liability for online marketplaces, with rules stating when they are responsible for misleading information or guarantees, and illegal or delisted tickets
- Verification processes to vet sellers and their tickets, to prevent tickets being listed unlawfully
- More transparency measures for online marketplaces, with clear information about tickets (including face value) and the identity of sellers
- Better reporting and take-down for tickets not permitted for resale
- Oversight, enforcement and public performance rating from a European agency empowered to ensure the DSA’s provisions are implemented
- Rules must apply to marketplaces trading within the EU, but based outside
Austrian MEP Hannes Heide, who sits on the European parliament’s culture committee, is supporting the FEAT proposals. He comments: “Ticket resale platforms like Viagogo list and advertise mostly overpriced tickets for sporting or cultural events, usually being sold by commercial traders rather than consumers. They enable the sale of speculative tickets, which the seller does not even own, and sales that contravene the lawful terms and conditions of the ticket. This harms consumers, artists, event organisers and honest ticket sellers.
“In several countries, such as Austria, Viagogo has been legally obliged to disclose the identity of the ticket sellers, which enables defrauded consumers to take action against the seller. In addition, the platform must inform buyers of the ticket’s original face-value price and whether the tickets are personalised.
“While this is a partial victory, it is not enough. The platforms must comply with all requirements of EU law and the authorities of the member states must work together to ensure compliance.”
“European consumers are long overdue secondary ticketing marketplaces they can rely on”
Per Kviman, chair of EMMA, adds: “The growth in ticket resale across Europe through sites like Viagogo and StubHub has undermined the ability of artists to sell their tickets to fans at a fair price they determine. Instead, brokers/touts buy up large volumes of tickets to the most popular shows, falsely inflating prices and limiting access for consumers.
“EU action is necessary through the Digital Services Act to put control of tickets back into the hands of those putting on the shows and creating powers to take down illegally listed tickets. As European managers we back FEAT’s campaign.”
“So much has changed since the e-Commerce Directive came into effect in 2000, and European consumers are long overdue secondary ticketing marketplaces they can rely on,” comments FEAT campaign lead Katie O’Leary.
“That can only happen through better regulation, enforcement and a public performance rating which will put the onus on marketplaces to make sure the tickets that they’re promoting – and profiting from – are accurately depicted, real and guaranteed to gain fans entry into the event. We welcome the result of this week’s plenary vote, which is a step in the right direction.”
Austrian Supreme Court rules against secondary sites
Austria’s supreme court has ordered ticket resale site Viagogo to better inform its buyers about the identity of ticket sellers, and the type of ticket being sold, before a purchase is made.
The 5 May ruling by the Supreme Court of Justice (Oberster Gerichtshof, OGH) forces Viagogo.at and other Viagogo websites – as well as other secondary ticketing sites selling in Austria – to disclose the identity of ticket sellers, including name and address, and whether tickets are personalised, ahead of ticket purchase.
The verdict also means that for the first time, customers in Austria are protected from losses caused by misleading information or the absence of essential information by sellers, such as travel costs when access to the show is denied.
Furthermore, if Viagogo doesn’t ensure sellers’ compliance with the registration and the disclosure of their identities, the platform itself would be held accountable.
Until now, tickets on secondary platforms operating in Austria were sold anonymously, with buyers not informed when tickets were personalised, leading to them often being denied access to events.
“The verdict is a remarkable step towards a fairer secondary market in Austria”
The case against Viagogo was brought by the trade body for sports and leisure companies of the Upper Austrian Chamber of Commerce, through competition protection group WSV (Wettbewerbsschutzverband). The basis for the lawsuit was the “significantly inflated” prices for tickets sold on Viagogo.at for cabaret events by Monika Gruber and Viktor Gernot, promoted by events agency Stage.
“The verdict is a remarkable step towards a fairer secondary market in Austria, as it not only forces ticketing transparency, but places responsibility at the feet of the platforms themselves,” says a spokesperson for the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT).
Linz-based competition law expert Johannes Hintermayr provided WSV’s legal representation.
“Congratulations to Dr Hintermayr and the WSV, who have led this extraordinary fight, and let it be one step of many towards the creation of an ethical market – which is all the more important in getting the industry back on its feet post Covid-19.”
“A huge concern”: Live industry reacts to StubHub buy
Controversial secondary ticketing site Viagogo yesterday (25 November) acquired StubHub from eBay in a US$4.05 billion all-cash deal, returning both companies to founder Eric Baker’s hands and eliciting strong reactions across the live music industry.
The sale to Viagogo – a consequence of pressure from eBay shareholders for the company to divest itself of StubHub – followed reported interest from multiple parties, including US resale marketplace Vivid Seats, and saw the e-commerce giant receive almost 13 times its original investment.
As IQ speaks to ticketing experts and commentators, a question on the lips of many is: “Just how did Baker raise the funds for the all-cash deal?”
More technical concerns include what the deal means for the future of the secondary ticketing market; how it may be used to “detoxify” Viagogo’s brand – or not; how regulators will react to the deal; and how much more likely are consumers to get ripped off.
Adam Webb, campaign manager, FanFair Alliance
“This feels like a desperate move from both parties.
“However, news of this acquisition should be a major concern for both audiences and music businesses – especially if Viagogo, a company that recently had a court order hanging over its head and is still the subject of a CMA investigation, uses this process as an attempt to detoxify its brand.
“FanFair will be writing to UK regulators and politicians and we reiterate our advice to music fans to avoid these sites.”
Katie O’Leary, campaign lead, Feat (Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing)
“It’s alarming to think of Viagogo potentially gaining an even greater stronghold in the secondary ticketing market, given it’s been the subject of various legal actions across Europe and banned from advertising on Google globally. (Google last lifted Viagogo’s ban on advertising. For more information, click here.)
“Viagogo claims this will create a ‘win-win for fans’, but further consolidation in the secondary ticketing market would most likely restrict competition, and further negatively impact fans.
“We hope that regulators will have consumers’ best interests at heart when considering this deal, and consider not only the question of Viagogo’s increased dominance but also whether they can be considered a fit and proper owner.”
“We hope that regulators will have consumers’ best interests at heart, and consider whether Viagogo can be considered a fit and proper owner”
Anton Lockwood, director of live, DHP Family
“Coupled with the disturbing news that Google is allowing Viagogo to advertise again, we see this as a step backwards in the fight against inflated price secondary ticketing, Viagogo’s brand has become toxic in the last few years and this seems like an attempt to cleanse it.
“At DHP we stand strongly against unscrupulous traders selling tickets at inflated prices, at the expense of genuine fans – this acquisition can only serve to further that, and we urge the regulators to look very closely at what the new company does.
“We always advise buying tickets from primary vendors or face value secondary vendors who are members of Star to obtain genuine tickets, at the correct price with consumer protection in place.”
Neo Sala, founder and CEO, Doctor Music Concerts
“Viagogo may hope that their reputation will be greenwashed through association with Stubhub, who have historically kept more in line with regulation — but both have a long history of ripping off fans.
“I have no doubt that if this gets cleared it will be bad news for fans, as well as those of us who invest in the live sector. Coupled with the news from Google, it’s really concerning to see things take such a backwards step.”
“At DHP we stand strongly against unscrupulous traders selling tickets at inflated prices, at the expense of genuine fans”
Claudio Trotta, founder, Barley Arts
“In my more than 40 years in the business, this is one of the worst pieces of news I have received.
“It is really scary – first of all, the fact that Viagogo can spend $4 billion in cash is very worrying. Secondly, that Viagogo has bought a competitor that operates in most countries in the world means we are really far away from winning the battle against this cancer – and I do truly believe it is a cancer. I am sure they have made this deal because they absolutely know they can carry on doing secondary ticketing in the majority of countries in the world and circumvent the laws that are in place.
“This is very bad for the future of industry – for music, for punters, and for overall quality. Music is in danger of becoming only for rich people and for fanatics – the only people capable of paying inflated secondary prices.
“We need to do something against this, otherwise live music will be dead in the way we know it. With these prices, there would be no new acts either, which means no more future.
“In Italy, there is a law against secondary ticketing, and also a law on nominative tickets. I am the only one of the major Italian promoters in favour of this law. I think the future is to have complete digitalisation of tickets, and for each to have a unique code. This is the only way to fight secondary ticketing.”
“In my more than 40 years in the business, this is one of the worst pieces of news I have received”
Dave Newton, ticketing professional
“In North America the deal will make no noticeable change as StubHub already dominates the resale market along with having an appreciable share of the primary market (especially in the sports sector) and Viagogo has no presence there.
“But in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere, we may see the increasingly toxic Viagogo brand put out to pasture as its market share is folded into the now-established StubHub brand in each of these territories.
“There is a scenario whereby the Viagogo brand is kept alive for a while as a way of deflecting anti-tout activity and attention from StubHub which has been generally been regarded as ‘the best of a bad bunch’ over the last five years. Viagogo could soak up the emotional ire of the media, customers and the events industry while StubHub quietly holds onto its more collaborative and conciliatory reputation.
“Could we see primary ticketing agencies launching resale platforms in Europe if StubHub succeeds in becoming the acceptable face for touting? There may also now be room for significantly-funded new entrants into the space.
“And where does this leave the ticket-buying fan? No less ripped-off, that’s for sure.”
“We may see the increasingly toxic Viagogo brand put out to pasture as its market share is folded into the now-established Stubhub brand”
Annabella Coldrick, CEO, MMF (Music Managers’ Forum)
“On the back of the FanFair Alliance campaign, we’ve seen huge steps to reform the UK’s secondary ticketing market and put a stop to the rip-off, anti-fan practices of sites like Viagogo. For that reason, the announcement is a huge concern.
“The consolidation of the biggest remaining platforms for ticket touts could potentially reverse progress and cause untold harm for audiences and artists alike.”
Rob Wilmshurst, CEO, See Tickets
“I had to check my calendar to make sure it was not April Fools’ Day. I am very, very surprised, not just at the scale of the deal but at where the cash might have come from.
“I am no fan of ticket touting so I can’t say it made my day but it is what it is. In any case, I congratulate Eric for pulling it off.”
Richard Davies, CEO, Twickets
“This is further terrible news for ticketing as two deceitful operators combine forces in order to further turn the screw on the consumer. It demonstrates the need more than ever for a specialist face value resale service that properly serves genuine fans.”
“The consolidation of the biggest remaining platforms for ticket touts could cause untold harm for audiences and artists alike”
Maarten Bloemers, CEO, Guts Tickets
“In five years I expect this to be deemed a total waste of money. It’s a joining of forces of two eerily similar entities companies, the main similarity being that they do not care in the slightest about the consumer they are supposedly serving.
“Technological innovation is making these businesses obsolete, and will put the priority back with the consumer, where it belongs.
Jonathan Brown, chief executive, Star (The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers)
“We note with interest the news that Viagogo has bought StubHub and will continue to watch developments closely.
“Customers need to know where they can buy tickets reliably from authorised sources and the best way of doing this is to always buy from Star members who have signed up to our code of practice and approved dispute resolution service.”
Adam French, consumer rights expert, Which?
“Viagogo has a long history of ripping off music and sports fans and had to be threatened with court action after failing to provide vital information to customers, so any move to increase its grip on the secondary ticketing sector is likely to be a worry for consumers.
“The regulator should closely examine this deal and the impact it could have on competition in the sector to ensure consumers do not lose out.”
This article will be updated with more reactions as IQ receives them.
Japan’s ACPC takes tough anti-tout stance
Japanese promoters’ association, the All Japan Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters Conference (ACPC), is calling for a “fairer secondary ticketing infrastructure”.
Following the adoption of Japan’s new anti-touting law, which effectively criminalises touting, the ACPC has issued a statement in which it urges an overhaul of the Japanese ticketing system.
“Ticket touting will not disappear tomorrow,” reads the ACPC statement, entitled ‘Ticket Integrity’. “From better education for consumers to strong enforcement, we will tackle the issue from all angles to help establish a fair ticketing system that truly puts fans first.”
“Ticket touting will not disappear tomorrow”
The association believes that secondary ticketing is among the industry’s “most pressing issues”, as the resale market gets set to reach almost US$15.2 billion by 2020.
ACPC chair Takeo Nakanishi commends the work that the Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) is doing “to encourage better legislation in Europe”, stating that the aim is to establish “a healthy ticketing system worldwide”.
In response, FEAT director Sam Shemtob says the anti-tout alliance “support[s] the ACPC in their work towards preventing ticket touting in Japan at this pivotal time, and are delighted by the impact new anti-touting legislation will no doubt have.
“We are confident that, as the live events industry and governments work together, a fairer ticket resale market can be achieved globally.”
“Landmark” EU legislation against ticket bots
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.