Viagogo Told To Spill The Beans

Secondary ticket giant Viagogo has been told to hand over to the Rugby Football Union the names and addresses of people who resold tickets to England rugby matches via its website.

The Nov. 21 London Supreme Court ruling means anyone in the music industry prepared to go as far as the RFU did to enforce its ticketing terms could demand the names of the people profiting from selling concert tickets on Viagogo, and Seatwave, among others.

The touts could also face court action forcing them to hand over the money they’ve made.

The ruling may also mark the end of Viagogo’s bid to hang on to the names of those who used its site to resell rugby tickets, although carrying out the judgment may prove tricky following Eric Baker’s company’s move to Zurich.

Law firm Hogan Lovells told The Guardian that the decision “means individuals who believe they have online anonymity can be identified,” and added it was likely to help those attempting to get Internet service providers and other firms to hand over details of people who have posted defamatory material online.

It remains to be seen if Viagogo, which has spent months appealing similar decisions from lower courts, will now hand over the info.

Either way, it didn’t prevent the company from continuing to sell tickets for the England vs. South Africa rugby match at Twickenham Nov. 24. Two days before the game – and two days after the case – the cheapest ticket on Viagogo was priced at £124.99, while the most expensive was £599.

Since the court case, the RFU has said, “[The court’s] dismissal of Viagogo’s final appeal sets an important precedent for the sporting industry that rights holders should retain the ability to control their ticketing policy and pricing. If a seller is found to be listing these tickets on secondary websites they face tough sanctions, including possible court action.”
It is not known how many Viagogo customers are affected by the ruling, but the RFU said: “In terms of tickets listed [on Viagogo], it’s in the thousands.” Viagogo calls it “a handful.”

It may be that for the music industry, where supply and demand is less predictable than in international rugby, promoters will likely want to see the secondary ticketing market continue largely unchallenged.

If neither promoters nor secondary ticketing sites challenge the market, the ruling may be largely ignored as far as live music is concerned.

The secondary market and the Supreme Court ruling will come under discussion at two meetings in London during the first week of December.

On Dec. 5, Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, who’s trying to persuade the UK parliament to put a 10 percent cap on the profit that can be made from reselling tickets, will be on a Music Tank panel at the University of Westminster.

The subject also likely cropped up at the UK Festival Conference at London’s Roundhouse Dec. 3.

Secondary ticketing was also one of the major panel topics at Live UK’s Summit conference at London’s Radisson Blue Portman Hotel Oct. 9-10.

Hodgson also appeared on that panel, along with like-minded Tory MP Mike Weatherley.