Digital Economy Bill becomes law

Digital Economy Bill becomes law

The Digital Economy Bill - which includes measures to combat industrial scale ticket touting - has become law. 

The Bill, which was backed by MPs in Westminster on Wednesday (April 26), has now received Royal Assent. 

It includes an amendment giving the government the power to create a new criminal offence of using bots to bypass limits on maximum ticket purchases set by event organisers. Touts who use bots to bulk buy tickets could face unlimited fines under the new legislation.

"I’m delighted the Digital Economy Act has become law," said culture minister Matt Hancock (pictured). "This legislation will help build a more connected and stronger economy. The Act will enable major improvements in broadband rollout, better support for consumers, better protection for children on the internet, and further transformation of government services."

The Bill also means that, on top of existing obligations, resale platforms will need to provide the unique ticket reference and booking number to potential buyers.

Applauding the move, anti-touting campaign group FanFair Alliance said in a statement: "On top of Government measures to criminalise the bulk-buying of tickets, this relatively minor amendment to the Consumer Rights Act, for a ‘unique ticket number’ to be displayed when a ticket is listed for resale, should greatly increase transparency in the so-called secondary ticketing market. If enforced, it will give users some assurances that the ticket they are buying actually exists, as well as disrupting the practices of hardcore touts that thrive on sites like Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave. 

"FanFair Alliance would like to thank everyone who has supported us in campaigning for these changes - and particularly Nigel Adams MP, Sharon Hodgson MP, Lord Moynihan, Baroness Hayter, Lord Clement-Jones, Lord Stevenson, the late Baroness Heyhoe-Flint, and members of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee. 

"We were also heartened that the Culture Minister has clarified unequivocally that secondary platforms must provide information of any resale restrictions. 

"Going forward, it is now vital that the UK's consumer laws are enforced, and recommendations made in the Waterson Review of secondary ticketing are fully implemented. After the General Election, we will need details on how all these changes will work in practice. Only then, and combined with a concerted effort from industry and regulators, will this broken market be fixed and British audiences provided with the open and properly-functioning resale market they deserve."

Luke Massie, founder and MD of Vibe Tickets, hailed the move. “The government’s efforts to address the issues associated with the illegal reselling of tickets is extremely positive," he said. "The bulk buying of events tickets to sell on at hyper-inflated prices is a massive and growing problem that is distorting the secondary ticket market. Unfortunately, this activity often goes undetected due to the lack of transparency during resale.  

“Fans deserve to pay fair prices for live music, sporting events and other shows, even on the secondary market. Although supply and demand means that some people will still be willing to pay more than face value for tickets, the amendments to the Digital Economy Bill will go some way towards tackling this ongoing issue.”

Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the Music Managers Forum, added: "Industrial-scale ticket touting is a real blight on the UK's live music scene, and a cause of growing concern for managers and artists alike. Members of the MMF were instrumental in setting up the FanFair Alliance to campaign for a fairer and more transparent resale market, and so we are delighted that Government has listened to the concerns of artists and fans and moved forward with these sensible and pragmatic measures. We now need UK consumer law to be properly enforced. With that in place there will be a real opportunity to create a sustainable ticketing market that prioritises the needs of fans above the greed of touts." 

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