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Ticketmaster UK fined for 2018 data breach

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Ticketmaster £1.25 million over a data breach that compromised the payment information of an estimated 9.4m customers in Europe, including 1.5m in the UK.

Concluding its investigation of a 2018 cyberattack which targeted Ticketmaster, TicketWeb and Get Me In! websites through a third-party customer support plug-in, the ICO found that Ticketmaster UK Ltd violated GDPR by failing to put in place “appropriate security measures” to protect its customers’ data.

ICO investigators found that, as a direct result of the Ticketmaster breach, 60,000 payment cards belonging to Barclays Bank customers had been subjected to known fraud. Another 6,000 cards were replaced by Monzo Bank after it suspected fraudulent use.

James Dipple-Johnstone, ICO deputy commissioner, says Ticketmaster failed to assess the risks of including the third-party product, a chatbot developed by Inbenta Technologies, on its payment page, as well implement appropriate security measures to negate those risks.

“Looking after their customers’ personal details safely should be at the top of organisations’ agenda”

The company also failed to identify the source of the fraudulent activity in a timely manner, having taken nine weeks from first being alerted to possible fraud (in February 2018) to finally monitoring the network traffic through its online payment page, according to the ICO.

“When customers handed over their personal details, they expected Ticketmaster to look after them,” says Dipple-Johnstone (pictured). “But they did not. Ticketmaster should have done more to reduce the risk of a cyberattack. Its failure to do so meant that millions of people in the UK and Europe were exposed to potential fraud.

“The £1.25 million fine we’ve issued today will send a message to other organisations that looking after their customers’ personal details safely should be at the top of their agenda.”

The Ibenta bot was removed from Ticketmaster’s websites in June 2018.


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Imogen Heap partners with Viberate

Two of the earliest adopters of the blockchain in music, Grammy-winning artist Imogen Heap and live music marketplace Viberate, have announced their collaboration.

Heap will serve in an advisory role at Viberate – whose platform is powered by a cryptocurrency, Viberate token (VIB) – to help “guide us towards a second-to-none service for the live music segment that truly works for the music-maker”, reads a statement from the Ljubljana-based company.

Viberate’s mission is to use blockchain technology to “map the global live music ecosystem by building a database of profiles for musicians, venues, agencies and event organisers”. It closed its initial coin offering (ICO) of 120 million VIB tokens, announced last August, in under five minutes, raising more than US$10m.

|Imogen is not only … an inspiration to many of today’s superstars, she is also widely known for getting on the blockchain train before it was cool”

Heap, whose Mycelia Creative Passports project aims to create an industry standard digital identity for creators, says: “Blockchain has become the long overdue catalyst for the music industry to update its policy and business models toward music-makers and to provide quicker and seamless experiences for anyone involved in creating or interacting with music.”

Commenting on her partnership with Viberate, she adds: “Anything that involves music-makers being independent and having space where they can reach out to anybody who wants to make business directly with them is a really positive thing.”

“Imogen is not only one of the best artists out there and an inspiration to many of today’s superstars, she is also widely known for getting on the blockchain train before it was cool,” comments Vasja Veber, Viberate co-founder and COO. “We respect that and that is why we are so excited to have her on board.”


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Blockchain: the key to protecting IP in the live business?

Blockchain first came to prominence as the technology behind online currencies such as bitcoin. However, as more businesses become aware of its uses and possibilities, it is gaining traction everywhere. But what are blockchain’s potential implications for the live music industry?

Blockchain is often described as a “distributed ledger” system, but what exactly does that mean? In a blockchain, transactions (blocks) are verified across a network of users before being stored with a time and date stamp that cannot be altered. Each user in the network stores their own copy of each block to maintain integrity and transparency of the data. Later, related blocks are likewise verified across the network and then linked to the previous block, creating a chain. The system is secure because a would-be hacker would need to access each user’s system separately to make any change – this would mean attempting to access hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of computers.

Blockchain is a useful tool in situations where maintaining the integrity of information is a key priority and where transparency is also high on the agenda. Although it started its life in online currencies, blockchain is now spreading its reach to other industries, including fashion, where it is being used in the fight against counterfeits, and in real estate, where recently, for the first time in the UK, a commercial property transaction took place completely online using blockchain.

In the music industry, the UK, French and American collection societies (PRS For Music, Sacem and Ascap, respectively) are already working together on a blockchain in relation to International Standard Recording Codes (for recorded music and music videos) and International Standard Codes (for musical works). The aim of this blockchain is to improve the management of links between the two standards and in turn reduce errors and costs. Licensing transactions should also speed up as a result.

Blockchain is a useful tool in situations where maintaining the integrity of information is a key priority and transparency is high on the agenda

However, there are other ways in which blockchain can assist the music industry. For example, a songwriter can use their original song as the first transaction in a blockchain to prove that they are the author. The blockchain can then be used to show the chain of ownership of the song, including any assignments or licensing arrangements, allowing the public to see clearly where a song has come from. This will also act as a deterrent to potential infringers whose use of the song would be recorded in the blockchain too.

For live music, blockchain has the potential to change things for the better too. With the majority of tickets now initially being sold online, blockchain can be used to track the movements of tickets and prove to the end purchaser that the ticket is valid. It can also help to control the ticket tout culture that can surround the secondary market. Some have already caught on to this fact, including services such as Lava, GUTS Tickets and Aventus. Lava, still in the start-up phase, uses the blockchain platform ethereum as its base and is a primary and secondary market ticket sales platform which keeps tickets at their face value.

Online streaming of live performances can also benefit from the use of blockchain, with only the official stream being connected to the blockchain. The use of the blockchain would mean that the live stream itself and any future use of a related recording of the live performance would be transparent, with royalties passing to the artists accordingly.

So, blockchain is coming and seems likely to become a part of our everyday lives, from our money to our clothes to the music we listen to. And while the average music fan may not see or fully understand what is going on behind the scenes, it is important that those working in the music industry are aware of its capabilities, its possibilities and are fully prepared for its arrival.


Joanna Morris is an assistant solicitor at Stevens & Bolton. She has more than seven years’ litigation experience and has since 2013 been part of the firm’s intellectual property team.

GUTS Tickets raises $2.5m+ in ICO presale

Blockchain ticketing platform GUTS Tickets has launched an initial coin offering (ICO) it expects to raise nearly US$20m, after plans to ban ticket resale for more than 120% of face value were torpedoed by the Dutch senate.

Last week’s rejection of the six-year-old Ticket Bill (Ticketwet), which Amsterdam-based GUTS says had already been “diluted to the point it became obsolete”, by the Netherlands’ upper house spurred the company to launch an ICO, a type of fundraising mechanism in which – similar to an IPO, where investors buy shares in a company – new projects sell ‘tokens’ in exchange for cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin or (in GUTS’s case) ether.

The GUTS ICO, currently in the presale stage, has so far raised more than $2.5m, with the ICO proper due to commence on 15 November. The company expects to raise a further $17m to fund the development of its platform, which uses blockchain technology to ensure “fans have an opportunity to see their favourite performers at the price originally set by the artist”.

Commenting on the ICO, GUTS Tickets CCO Tom Roetgering tells IQ: “We want to be the most transparent and honest ICO out there. Very little ICOs have an actual working product and clients. We do.

“Our main goal is convince the community that we are a legit project and there is no money-grabbing involved. All the computer program code for blockchain is audited and published so everybody knows everything. Because of the properties of blockchain, everybody is able to see how we transfer the funds and if we misuse them.

“We want to do it the right way, all the way”

“Also important to note is that we’re actually doing a rather small ICO – $17 million is considered to be small. I know: bananas. So the bottom line is: we want to do it the right way, all the way.”

Roetgering also explains that GUTS plans to allow other ticket sellers to use its protocol, known as GET, to distribute tickets on the blockchain.

GUTS this summer deployed its platform at Here Comes the Summer festival, as part of a trial backed by the EU’s Innofest. The company distributed food and drink tokens through the blockchain, allowing attendees to buy tokens through their smartphones – and creating a permanent, easy-to-follow record of all transactions at the festival.

Other recent industry ICOs include ticketing platform Aventus and Viberate, an Airbnb-style marketplace for unsigned musiciansIQ highlighted in March how the blockchain – the decentralised database technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – is being used in ticketing, live streaming/VR and the distribution of performance royalties.

4 ways blockchain can disrupt the live industry


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Viberate, live music cryptocurrency, prepping ICO

Viberate – a blockchain-based ‘live music marketplace’ that aims to “do for music what Airbnb did for tourism” – is gearing up for an initial coin offering (ICO) of US$12 million worth of Vibes, the first cryptocurrency aimed specifically at the live music industry.

The ‘crowdsale’ of 200m Vibe tokens, which have a base price of $0.10, runs from from 5 September to 4 October, and follows more than $1m worth of investment in the Ljubljana-based start-up since April 2016.

“The main difference” between Viberate and other music-focused cryptocurrencies, says co-founder and COO Vasja Veber, “is that those services operate in the recorded music segment, whereas Viberate focuses on the live segment.

“We are not interested in the world of recorded music, royalties and copyright. It’s an interesting field and in definite need for help, and we hope that our fellow founders in Musiconomi, Voise, Opus and others will give the massive recorded music market a much needed kick in the butt and let musicians make money again by producing good music.

“[But w]hat we are interested at is giving musicians an opportunity to charge for their gigs in cryptocurrencies. We want to do for music what Airbnb did for tourism.”

“There is a clear need for an entity that would effectively and safely represent all those who don’t have a privilege of an agent”

In addition to allowing touring musicians to be paid in Vibes, Viberate – as detailed in its white paper – aims to offer artists, promoters and agents a blockchain-based alternative to what it calls a “heavily centralised” industry dominated by “a few major talent agencies”.

“Musicians need agents in order to land enough gigs to make a living, and most of the musicians don’t stand a chance of getting spotted,” it reads. “Only a fraction of a percent of all the world’s musicians have proper representation and are lucky enough to have music as their primary source of income. The rest are left on their own, struggling with exposure in a heavily saturated market, dealing with marketing, sales, networking, legal, taxation and debt collection issues instead of focusing on the creative part of the music business. […]

“There is a clear need for an entity that would effectively and safely represent all those who don’t have a privilege of an agent. Blockchain technology offers the best tools for this task.”

For event organisers, the platform gives promoters a helping hand in staying “on top of trends in live music” and provides them with a constantly evolving roster – which may also be supplied by booking agencies – of “interesting musicians”.

“A good event organiser in a busy city can organise up to three or four events weekly with several musicians on the line-up. Such frequency soon leads to the organiser not knowing who to book next. An event organiser’s product is a ticket, and their primary goal is to sell as many tickets as possible. To do this they need a good programme and a good ticket sales channel.”

“80% of all musicians in the world are unsigned … We want to be their agent, and we’ll offer them the tools they need to become successful performers”

In both scenarios, says Viberate, the solution is a decentralised, blockchain-based database of artists, promoters, agencies and venues that allows each party to communicate with, and book, the others at will, “regardless of genre, country, fame level or gig history”.

Commenting on the upcoming ICO, Veber tells Cointelegraph: “We don’t expect the big guys to jump on the bandwagon right away. But they were never our target group anyway, and we don’t expect Justin Bieber or Coldplay to be ready to accept Bitcoins or Vibes in exchange for their services.

“Our main target group has always been the underdogs: Local musicians, low-profile garage bands, who need a place to offer their performances to promoters and clubs. And those are usually younger people, millennials, who are quite fond of cryptocurrencies. They are our true ambassadors and there’s a lot of them. We estimate that around 80% of all musicians in the world are unsigned, meaning they don’t have an agent to represent them.

“Now we want to be their agent, and we’ll offer them all the tools they need to become successful performers and make a living by doing what they love.”


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