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  • Demands include clear liability for secondary ticketing marketplaces, ticket and seller verification obligations, increased transparency, efficient reporting of tickets listed illegally
  • Call for rigorous enforcement by a dedicated EU agency, giving performance ratings to keep advertising networks in the know
  • In response to the Digital Services Act, upgrading liability and safety rules for digital platforms

 

The Face-Value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has published its recommendations for the future of online ticket resale, calling for new rules that shield fans against harmful secondary ticketing practices and reduce illegal ticket resale across the EU.
 
The proposals are backed by the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), Pearle* — Live Performance Europe, the European Music Managers Alliance (EMMA), Spain's Association of Music Promoters (APM), German event promoters' association BDKV, campaigning group Victim of Viagogo and the global Association for Electronic Music.  They are also broadly supported by Professor Michael Waterson, economics professor at Warwick University, who led a watershed independent review into secondary ticketing on behalf of the UK government in 2016.  
 
The joint action, which follows over 50 court cases and initiatives to curb the problem across just 11 EU member states surveyed, comes in response to the launch of the Digital Services Act (DSA). This was announced by the European Commission in February to offer greater protection and create a level playing field for consumers buying online, with the European Parliament approving initial proposals late on Tuesday. 
 
Ticket resale has long been plagued by secondary platforms taking advantage of the lack of regulation for commercial gain, resulting in a market valued at €12.1bn in 2019 (Technavio) — eclipsing the entire €10.4bn global audio and visual music streaming market (IFPI). With many fans and of course the live industry experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, it has become more important than ever to regulate the dysfunctional secondary ticketing market so that as shows resume at reduced capacity, fans are able to secure tickets at a fair price. 

 

Recommendations include: 
  • Clear liability for online marketplaces
 Secondary ticketing marketplaces profit from illegal ticket selling, which they encourage through various promotional tactics and seller incentivisation. Yet they claim no responsibility, arguing that they just provide the platform, in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be held accountable. The DSA must put a stop to this by introducing clear rules that state the circumstances in which platforms are liable, including when they advertise or promote tickets, provide misleading information or guarantees, incentivise illegal selling, and allow delisted tickets to reappear on their platform.

 

  • Verification processes to vet sellers and their tickets
Marketplaces must introduce effective vetting procedures to prevent tickets from being listed illegally. As well as verifying seller details, they must include a consent mechanism for sellers to confirm that they are selling the tickets lawfully. This will also help prevent speculative sales – tickets offered which the seller doesn't possess.

 

  • More transparency measures for online marketplaces
Marketplaces must empower fans to make the right choices online by clearly displaying essential information about tickets listed, such as the identity of business sellers and the ticket's face value. 

 

  • Better reporting and take-down for tickets not permitted for resale
Tickets are frequently listed illegally, speculatively, and against the lawful terms governing their resale. To prevent these tickets from ending up in the hands of fans, marketplaces must have in place consistent, simple and timely procedures to ensure that takedowns are quick and efficient.

 

  • Oversight, enforcement and public performance rating  
The EU must establish a European agency to share information and tackle illegal practices within the DSA, with the necessary tools and capacity to ensure the law is enforced. This body would establish a code of conduct and benchmark the performance of online marketplaces in tackling illegal or invalid sales on their site, helping consumers make informed choices and advertising networks, such as Google, know when a marketplace breaches their policies.   

 

  • Rules must apply to marketplaces trading within the EU but based outside
Extending these rules to platforms established outside but trading within the bloc will offer consumers better protection and reduce the number of infringements.

 
2019 saw the passing of the first ever EU anti-touting legislation, banning the use of bots to bulk-buy tickets and  forcing traders to declare if they are professionals; a landmark ruling that opened the door to further reform. The Digital Services Act presents an opportunity for EU-wide progress against touts, with better regulation restoring ticket buyers' eroded trust.
 
Austrian MEP Hannes Heide, who sits on the European Parliament's Culture Committee, strongly supported the proposals: "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"
 
FEAT Campaign Lead Katie O'Leary said: "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. 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 eventWe welcome the result of this week's plenary vote, which is a step in the right direction"
 
Morten Gjelten, President of Pearle* — Live Performance Europe added: "The number of court cases within the EU dealing with illicit trade on online secondary ticketing platforms speaks for itself – we urgently need European wide legislation and enforcement when it comes to the reselling of cultural tickets much higher than face-value. Let's make an end to these unfair and detrimental practices which harm artists, live performance organisations and not least consumers."
 
Per Kviman, Chair of EMMA commented: "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 the 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".

Position paper

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