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EU Parliament green lights bot ban in first move against online ticket touting

Landmark ruling is EU’s first action to regulate ticket resale 
Ticket resellers must also declare if they are a professional seller
Paves the way for further harmonisation of touting laws across Europe, seen as critical to bringing secondary platforms to heel
Move follows lobbying by Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT)
MEPs have voted to outlaw the use of specialised software (or bots) to circumvent the maximum buying limit on ticket purchases (or any other rules applicable for purchase). The move, the first time the EU has directly addressed the issue of ticket resale, will also strengthen existing regulation by requiring resellers to declare if they are professional traders.

Championed by Conservative MEP Daniel Dalton, as part of the New Deal for Consumers initiative to strengthen consumer rights, the legislation sets the minimum standard by which EU members must abide.  It will allow for more stringent provisions at national level, such as a complete ban on resale for profit. 

Once implemented in the UK, the ruling will be applicable through the two-year Brexit transition period and form part of the UK’s incumbent laws on consumer rights. While the UK has already introduced legislation preventing the use of bots for ticket harvesting, it will strengthen the hand of national bodies like the Competition and Markets Authority and Advertising Standards Authority, who will be able to use it in prosecutions. 

This is the first time that the world’s largest trading bloc has set a common standard for ticket resale in cultural and sports events. A harmonised approach will prove critical in dealing with touting, as secondary ticketing companies often exploit the gaps between different countries’ legislation.   

Daniel Dalton UK MEP and rapporteur of the revised Unfair Commercial Practices Directive in which the new legislation is captured, said: "Everyone apart from touts loses out from bot bulk-buying of tickets. 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. So 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."
Sharon Hodgson MP, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Chair of the APPG on Ticket Abuse said: “It is welcome that the EU Parliament have today voted to ban bots, which harvest tickets from the primary market in order to sell for high profits on the secondary market. This new regulation harmonises Europe with existing UK law on bots, and also allows member states to strengthen existing legislation, which will protect consumers. Fans across the world must not be priced out by the secondary ticket market using parasitical methods to get tickets.”
Per Kviman and Virpi Imonnen at the European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA) said: “This is a positive step. The EU Parliament has recognised the growing public concern about consumer exploitation in the secondary ticketing market. However, the banning of “bots” is one small piece of the jigsaw. Tackling this issue requires a more comprehensive approach, and we hope there is potential to build upon this move.” 

Dr. Johannes Ulbricht, lawyer for German Music Promoters Association BDKV added: “BDKV supports the initiative of FEAT, which is definitely a step into the right direction.”

Sam Shemtob and Katie O’Leary of FEAT commented: “We welcome the move to curb the use of bots in this first Europe-wide anti-touting law. 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.  

“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.” 

Representing promoters, managers, trade bodies and grassroots consumer action groups, FEAT raised awareness of the issue at EU level. This included helping propose text and coordinating lobbying for this legislation’s inclusion. 

Outside of the UK, it follows the introduction of targeted bot legislation in the US, Ontario, South Australia and New South Wales.

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