Bot battling and more – new initiatives to stem online ticket abuse

Posted: March 28, 2018

There have recently been notable advances in the fight against abuse of the online ticket market.

The government is introducing a new criminal offence to tackle the use of bots that override limits on how many tickets a single purchaser can buy for a recreational, sporting or cultural event in the UK.  In England and Wales, those who break the law will face an unlimited fine.

With the Competition and Markets Authority announcing that it will be taking enforcement action against secondary ticketing sites that breach consumer protection law, and the release of further government guidance for secondary ticketing businesses on details to provide to ticket buyers, consumers can expect greater fairness and transparency when buying tickets.

At the same time, the advertising industry is getting tough: the Advertising Standards Agency recently reprimanded Ticketmaster for misleading claims about “best available tickets”, and Google now requires resellers to be certified by Google before advertising through Adwords and to post the face value along with the reseller’s price in the same currency.

Event producers and artists are also continuing to drive change in the ticketing market, such as by capping the number of tickets per purchase, requiring ticket buyers to produce ID to collect tickets from the venue and having groups enter at the same time as the lead buyer.

Comment

While a combination of industry‑led initiatives, technological solutions and government support has managed to stem the flood of overpriced secondary tickets, there is still more to be done to safeguard consumers and the events industry from exploitative activities in the ticketing market.  Providing clear information to fans on where to buy legitimate tickets and educating them on the dangers of getting ripped off on the secondary market will remain at the forefront of the battle against touts.

Yet given the technology and potential financial gains involved, there will always be someone developing a surreptitious work‑around with the ability to operate from anywhere in the world.  That game of whack-a-mole will undoubtedly continue, but event producers continue to show that, despite the technical and legislative challenges, the entertainment industry can in fact maintain control of the sale of tickets, as well as keeping the touts at bay and the punters happy.  Whether individual producers choose to do so is another matter.

Jessie Merwood, Associate, Simkins LLP   

To read the full article, click here.  Written for Entertainment Law Review.