MEPs have voted to outlaw the use of specialised software (bots) to circumvent ticket purchasing rules, including maximum buying limits. The move, which marks the first time the EU has directly addressed the issue of ticket resale.
The legislation sets the minimum standard by which Member States must abide, and will allow for more stringent provisions at national level, such as a complete ban on resale for profit. Where there are bot measures already in place, such as in the UK, the ruling will strengthen the hand of enforcement agencies, helping pave the way for a fairer ticketing market.
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 scalping, as secondary ticketing companies often exploit the gaps between different countries’ legislation.
What is the new legislation?
“Reselling event tickets to consumers if the trader acquired them by using automated means to circumvent any imposed limit on the number of tickets that a person can buy or any other rules applicable to the purchase of tickets”. This regulation will form part of Annex 1 (#23a) of the revised Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which lists commercial practices which are in all circumstances unfair.
What is the new recital?
“Traders should be prohibited from reselling to consumers tickets to cultural and sports events that they have acquired by using software such as 'bots' enabling them to buy tickets in excess of the technical limits imposed by the primary ticket seller or to bypass any other technical means put in place by the primary seller to ensure accessibility of tickets for all individuals. This specific prohibition is without prejudice to any other national measures that Member States can take to protect the legitimate interests of consumers and to secure cultural policy and broad access of all individuals to cultural and sports events, such as regulating the resale price of the tickets”. The recital will appear at the beginning of the directive (#50). It sets out reasons for the provisions of the act and is taken into account when interpreting the meaning.
What happens next? How long will the legislation take to come into effect?
Now that parliament has adopted its position, the Council will have to formally adopt it, which will likely be in June. Once the legislation has been fully adopted, Member States will be given a maximum of around two years to transpose the amendments into national law. The exact deadline will be set out in the directive once finalised.
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