Industry News

UK touts face unlimited fines

Touts that use bots in the UK are to begin facing unlimited fines as of today (Thursday).

Through the addition to the Digital Economy Act, which became law in 2017, those that employ automated software to harvest tickets will face unlimited fines.

While music industry groups have generally welcomed the crack down on the secondary market, the Guardian reports that security and ticketing expert Reg Walker has warned that touts will still be able to get hold of tickets using tried-and-tested methods.

“Bots are just one tool in the touts’ box,” he said. “There are changes in technology that mean there may be loopholes in the legislation that they can exploit.”

He said some were using adapted versions of web browsers that perform the same function as bots, but may not be covered by the legislation, the Guardian reports.

In addition, Walker highlighted evidence that major touts who enjoy close relationships with ticket resale firms use multiple credit cards to bypass limits on purchases.

Digital and creative industries minister Margot James said banning bots would boost efforts by artists including Arctic Monkeys and Iron Maiden to battle “unfair practices”.

“Too often [fans] have been priced out of the market due to unscrupulous touts buying up huge batches of tickets and selling them on at ridiculous prices,” she said. “From today I am pleased to say that we have successfully banned the bots.”

Music industry anti-tout group Fan Fair Alliance said the new law should be accompanied by “strong and swift enforcement” of existing laws.

In November, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK’s competition regulator, said it is to take enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection law after the completion of an investigation into the sector.

The CMA said it gathered evidence, which it considers reveals breaches of the law, and identified “widespread concerns” about the information consumers are given.

Image: Anna Hanks