Secondary ticketing sites will now face ‘unlimited fines’ in the UK by British courts if they’re caught using bots, according to the change in law yesterday.
According to Metro UK, a law was changed yesterday that stops touts from using bots, or automated software, to purchase numerous tickets at the same time. Originally, this legislation was first announced in January, which means that it is now a criminal offence to use bots to purchase tickets in bulk and then sell them for inflated prices.
“Fans deserve the chance to see their favourite artists at a fair price,” government Digital and Creative Industries minister Margot James said in a statement. “Too often they have been priced out of the market due to unscrupulous touts buying up huge batches of tickets and selling them on at ridiculous prices.”
Minister for Digital MP Matt Hancock told NME previously that this is about tackling computers that buy more than 10 tickets at a time, although he “knows there’s much more to it than that.”
“The enforcement from police of existing laws has been progressing too so that we can use the powers that we’ve got already,” he said. “We’ve also got the Competition Authority looking at the market.”
“Lots of people raised the concern that when the primary ticket seller owns the secondary ticket seller – giving them market power. It looks like they’re separate markets, when actually they’re not.”
When asked if the government would ever consider a ban on tickets being sold above a certain percentage of their original value, Hancock told NME “we don’t rule anything out.”
“There are advantages to fans being able to sell on tickets that they don’t want,” he said. “Venues can choose not to allow re-sale above face value, and some do. As we found in the Waterson Review published last year, fans overwhelmingly want the chance to re-sell a ticket if they can’t use them and have a functioning secondary market.”
“What we need is a secondary market that is fair – not skewed,” Hancock said.
This legislature follows the publicizing of the secondary market by artists like Ed Sheeran, Arctic Monkeys, and Iron Maiden. Sheeran enacted an anti-resale policy on his tour, which forced fans to be turned away from the venue if they bought tickets from a secondary ticketing site.
“I hate the idea of people paying more than face value for tickets when you can get them at face value,” Sheeran told Radio 1 Newsbeat. “People just need to start taking a stance and within two or three years companies like Viagogo are going to be kaput.”