COMPETITION
Live events industry

The artist management community have launched a new initiative on secondary ticketing by proposing the launch of a Resale Rights Society to regulate concert ticket market. Whilst the UK government has shown an interest in touting and secondary ticket sales, they have put pressure on the live industry to do something about it itself – but the live industry has generally said that is powerless to do anything, and that the government should look to regulate ticket touting in music and entertainment (in a similar way to the regulations that exist in the football industry). Four ‘government summits’ have addressed the issue so far, and a select committee of the Department Of Culture, Media & Sport is currently investigating it further with the results apparently leaked in the Observer newspaper urging a crackdown on touting.

The Music Managers’ Forum, with support from the songwriters and music publishers collection societies the MCPS-PRS Alliance, has now decided to make its own proposals and have announced that a coalition of artist managers, who manage over 400 artists between them, including The Verve, Robbie Williams, Arctic Monkeys, KT Tunstall and Radiohead, are launching a new body called the Resale Rights Society which will aim to (i) provide music fans with some protection if and when they buy tickets from resellers and (ii) ensure some of the profits of the secondary ticket market go back to the artists and live sector. The Society aims to do this by persuading the likes of eBay and ticket reselling sites to sign up to a ‘kite-mark’ scheme which would force them to make certain commitments to consumers (eg to have a refund policy if a gig is cancelled) and to commit to pass on a portion of their own profits to the Society, which would distribute the monies to artists, songwriters and promoters. In return the ticketing sites would be legitimatised by the industry (or those parts of the industry signed up to the Society). The new Society, which will be a not-for-profit membership organisation run by and for artists, managers and promoters, will be chaired by Marc Marot, a former Island Records chief and now manager of Yusuf Islam and Paul Oakenfold. The RRS have said that informal discussions with promoters and ticket agencies had been positive and The Association Of Secondary Ticket Agents has said it will support the new initiative. One amusing headline called the proposed system a ‘tout tax’.

However it should be remembered that unlike the PRS, MCPS and PPL, the ‘right’ the new society holds is not expressly provided for in UK law. The music collection societies can collect royalties because they control the ‘restricted acts’ in copyright put forward in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The PRS and PPL for example can licence the right to perform and/and broadcast a composition or a sound recording. The MCPS can licence the right tocopy a piece of music. There is even legislation in place to govern the re-sale of works of art over specific thresholds in value (Artist’s Resale Rights Regulations 2006). But there are no such provisions in law for tickets except for the criminal prohibition which applies to the unauthorised re-sale of football tickets (s166 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) and a similar prohibition which will apply to tivkets for the 2012 London Olympics. Obviously acts such as Kylie Minogue and Led Zeppelin and major events such as Glastonbury and the Rugby Six Nations have used contractual terms and conditions in the attempt to thwart onward sale by touts, by fans on eBay and to an extent by secondary ticketers. But of course contractual terms themselves need to be certain and reasonable (and indeed not fall foul of the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977) and this comment sums up promoters difficulties: “ Typically private resale will contravene the original conditions of sale, but it’s legally questionable whether the original conditions of sale are even enforceable”. A s far as I am aware such terms have yet to be tested in a UK court although there is a worrying (for the RSS) Australian authority where in an action brought by online auction site eBay, Mr Justice Rares in the Federal Court ruled that Big Day Out promoter Creative Festival Entertainment engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by stating every ticket resold for profit would be cancelled saying that Creative “did not have reasonable grounds” to claim every ticket resold for profit would be cancelled.

News story from CMU Daily http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk . For details of the Australian federal court decision see http://www.news.com.au/comments/0,23600,20945199-2,00.html (including some interesting comments from the general public) and see

http://ezinearticles.com/?Ticket-Scalping-Continues-to-Frustrate-Promoters&id=390449

For an interesting discussion in this area and a ‘legal response’ have a look at Wikipedia athttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ticket_resale (as at 06/12/07) and see http://www.out-law.com/page-8745 ; For the Artist’s Resale Rights see http://www.out-law.com/page-6636

And see http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10259003 and IQ Issue 15 Supp 2 p13 (Article by Petri H Lunden).

See the Observer Newspaper p1& p4 December 23 rd 2007 ‘Crackdown urged on rip-off web ticket touts’