EU Reaches Provisional Ticket Resale Ruling

Screenshot 2022 04 25 at 4.10.11 PM
Margrethe Vestager, executive vice-president of the European Commission for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, in a video note tweeted after discussions on the Digital Services Act ended on April 23.

The EU has reached a provisional political agreement on the Digital Services Act (DSA), a regulation designed to create “a safer and fairer online environment,” which includes the curbing of ticket resale abuses.

The text was agreed shortly after 1.30 a.m. on April 23 in Brussels, Belgium, after a 16-hours discussion marathon between policy-makers.

Statements from the European Parliament and Council as well as negotiators may not mention tickets or ticketing, but they suggest the act contains a number of measures to ensure secondary ticketing marketplaces act responsibly.

As the EU Parliament lays out, “under the new rules, intermediary services, namely online platforms – such as social media and marketplaces – will have to take measures to protect their users from illegal content, goods and services.”

Part of the Digital Services Act is designed to create more responsible online marketplaces, which have to ensure that consumers can purchase products or services online in a secure manner, by strengthening checks to prove that the information provided by traders is reliable. The EU has dubbed this “Know Your Business Customer” principle.

Under the new act, online marketplaces will also have to make efforts to prevent illegal content appearing on their platforms, including through random checks.

The Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing (FEAT) has welcomed this provisional political agreement on the Digital Services Act.

FEAT: Face-value European Alliance For Ticketing Launched At Eurosonic Noorderslag

The organization has spent two years engaging with the EU over the DSA, culminating in arranging an open letter with other concerned groups that called on the DSA to compel online marketplaces to act responsibly. It was signed by nearly 150 representatives from the worlds of pop, ballet, opera, theatre and comedy.

Aside from the the fact that ticket touts will only be able to list tickets after providing essential information, FEAT particularly welcomes the provisions that secondary marketplaces will also be obliged to conduct random checks for tickets sold illegally.

Measures designed to panic buyers, such as pop-ups claiming several people are viewing the same ticket, will be banned. In the words of the EU, manipulating users’ choices through ‘dark patterns’ will be prohibited.

“Online platforms and marketplaces should not nudge people into using their services, for example by giving more prominence to a particular choice or urging the recipient to change their choice via interfering pop-ups. Moreover, cancelling a subscription for a service should become as easy as subscribing to it,” the EU statements read.

Reports suggest that while micro and small marketplaces will be exempt from verifying traders and conducting random checks, marketplaces that are medium-sized (employing between 50 and 250 people) for more than a year will have no such exemption.

“Search engines such as Google are understood to face new responsibilities too, however these have not yet been fully set out,” according to a press release sent out by FEAT.

Said FEAT director Sam Shemtob, “We cautiously welcome news of measures to be placed on secondary ticketing marketplaces to clean up the Wild West in which they have operated so far.

“The devil will be in the detail, but we hope the new requirements for vetting traders and publishing basic information about the seller will enable fans and event organisers to make informed decisions.”

The text of the DSA will need to be finalized, before both the EU Parliament and Council give their formal approval. It will come into force 20 days after its publication in the EU Official Journal.

Big Tech firms will then have four months to prepare for the rules, while companies with fewer than 45 million users will have 15 months or until Jan. 1, 2024, whichever is later.

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