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Digital Economy Act passes introducing new ticket tout regulations

By | Published on Friday 28 April 2017

Ticket touts

While Theresa Mayhem’s General Election may have put the ongoing parliamentary investigation into secondary ticketing on hold, the proposed new regulations on the ticket touting business have made it onto the statute book. The revised Digital Economy Act got its royal assent yesterday, with amendments made by the Lords getting approval from the Commons before Westminster winds down for the big vote.

Those amendments include two relating to secondary ticketing. First, the bots ban outlawing the use of special software to hoover up large quantities of tickets from primary ticketing sites. Government ministers originally said this was unnecessary, as using such technology is arguably already against the law, but they subsequently backed the bots ban proposal.

Secondly, the obligations on ticket resellers to provide certain information about the tickets they are reselling – contained in the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – will be extended, so that that information must include a “unique ticket number that may help the buyer to identify the seat or standing area or its location”.

Both new measures have been welcomed by those campaigning for a better regulated secondary ticketing market, not least the music industry’s FanFair Alliance. Though those campaigners recognise that the new rules will only be of any use if they are enforced.

The regulations introduced in the Consumer Rights Act arguably haven’t been enforced very well. Though the government has said that it accepts the recommendations of the Waterson Review of the secondary market, which included the proposal that National Trading Standards be given the remit and the budget to do the enforcement in this domain.

Responding to passing of the Digital Economy Act, a spokesperson for the FanFair Alliance commented: “On top of government measures to criminalise the bulk-buying of tickets, this relatively minor amendment to the Consumer Rights Act, for a ‘unique ticket number’ to be displayed when a ticket is listed for resale, should greatly increase transparency in the so-called secondary ticketing market. If enforced, it will give users some assurances that the ticket they are buying actually exists, as well as disrupting the practices of hardcore touts that thrive on sites like Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave”.

They added: “Going forward, it is now vital that the UK’s consumer laws are enforced, and recommendations made in the Waterson Review of secondary ticketing are fully implemented. After the General Election, we will need details on how all these changes will work in practice. Only then, and combined with a concerted effort from industry and regulators, will this broken market be fixed and British audiences provided with the open and properly-functioning resale market they deserve”.

The Music Managers Forum, one of the key backers of the FanFair Alliance, also welcomed the new rules included in the DEA. Its CEO, Annabella Coldrick, said last night: “Industrial-scale ticket touting is a real blight on the UK’s live music scene, and a cause of growing concern for managers and artists alike. Members of the MMF were instrumental in setting up the FanFair Alliance to campaign for a fairer and more transparent resale market, and so we are delighted that government has listened to the concerns of artists and fans and moved forward with these sensible and pragmatic measures”.

She added: “We now need UK consumer law to be properly enforced. With that in place there will be a real opportunity to create a sustainable ticketing market that prioritises the needs of fans above the greed of touts”.