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Italian fine against Viagogo upheld after court rules it is not a passive intermediary

By | Published on Monday 26 April 2021


The pan-European campaign against for-profit secondary ticketing, FEAT, has welcomed a recent ruling in the courts in Italy which upheld a regulator decision to fine the often controversial Viagogo 3.7 million euros for hosting tickets for sale in violation of Italian laws on ticket resale.

Italy is one of the countries that has introduced pretty strict rules about the resale of tickets. Only sellers authorised by a show’s promoter can sell tickets in the country. Individual ticket buyers can then re-sell tickets for shows they cannot attend, but only at face value or less.

Last year Italian internet regulator AGCOM fined Viagogo for listing tickets to 37 events in spring 2019 in violation of those laws. However, the resale site appealed, arguing that it is simply a marketplace – so a passive internet intermediary – which means, under European law, it can’t be held liable if its users violate Italian ticketing laws.

The resale platform has used similar arguments successfully in the past, including in Italy. However, earlier this month the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio ruled that Viagogo was not in fact a passive internet intermediary.

According to FEAT, the court said: “The service provided by the Viagogo … clearly does not have the characteristics of passive hosting, given that it clearly does not consist in the mere ‘storage of information’, but rather in the articulated activities of optimisation and advertising promotion of the titles on sale. Nor has the appellant in any way substantiated the claim that such complex activities would be carried out by the platform in a completely automatic manner and without any awareness and/or possibility of control on its part”.

It also added that, even if Viagogo was classified as a passive intermediary, it did not act quickly enough to remove or disable access to the illegal tickets for sale on its platform once made aware of them. Such speedy responses are required to benefit from any restricted liabilities under European law.

Commenting on the ruling, FEAT Director Sam Shemtob said: “Uncapped secondary marketplaces such as Viagogo have long been shielding under the liability exemption offered by EU law by claiming to have little to no knowledge of the activity taking place on their sites. It is time that they’re held responsible for the illegal activity they promote and profit from, both in Italy and across Europe”.