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French Constitutional Council says ticket touting ban is just fine

By | Published on Monday 17 December 2018

Empty seats

France’s constitutional court has ruled that anti-ticket touting laws in the country are compliant with the French constitution. The Constitutional Council responded last week to a challenge to those laws pursued by the often controversial secondary ticketing website Viagogo, which was also supported by its main rival, eBay’s StubHub.

The resale of tickets for profit without the permission of a show’s promoter has been illegal in France since 2012, it being one of the first countries to regulate when online ticket touting started to really take off. Viagogo argued that the law was a “disproportionate breach of freedom of enterprise”, but the Council did not concur.

The director of French live industry trade group PRODISS, Malika S├ęguineau, welcomed the Council’s decision, saying that it “strongly reinforces the French law”, and in doing so “protects the consumers, the fans, the artists and the promoters”.

The trade group also confirmed that it and several French promoters have filed a criminal action against Viagogo, which will be able to proceed now that the Constitutional Council has said that the anti-touting rules that the resale site is accused of breaching are sound.

Law-makers around the world have responded in different ways to calls for more regulation of online ticket-touting. In many countries politicians were initially reluctant to follow their French counterparts and instigate an out-right ban. But in more recent years there has generally been more willingness to restrict online touting in more countries.

A pretty wide-ranging touting ban was recently voted through in Japan. Meanwhile, Irish politicians are considering something similar, and the main opposition party in Australia has said it would support extending nationwide a rule that already exists in parts of the country that restricts the resale of tickets to a 10% mark-up.

Of course, even where partial or out-right bans exist, that only has any impact if the law is enforced, and often it isn’t. Though again, there has been more appetite to enforce the rules of late. Here in the UK, although there is no out-right ban on touting for profit, government agencies have been enforcing consumer rights rules that many touts and resale sites – and especially Viagogo – have generally ignored to date.