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22nd November 2012

As Viagogo are forced to reveal the details of their sellers we ask: Is this the beginning of the end for greedy fan to fan ticketing?

The Supreme Court rules in favour of the RFU, which is a victory for the ticket buyer and a blow for the greedy ticket touts, fraudsters, scammers and secondary sellers

Safeconcerts have been campaigning against ticket touts and fraudulent websites for some time now. The Be ticket Safe ® Ticket directory is the only online tool that allows ticket buyers to check whether or not they are buying their tickets from a legitimate source.

The prolific rise in online tout sites, so called fan to fan sites, fraudulent sites and those out to get rich quick with little effort has caused misery for numerous music fans. For the most part those running these sites have done so with complete impunity and for the few whose sites have been taken down there's been little problem, they've been able to get a new site up and running within hours. There have been a few prosecutions with a small number of criminals caught and brought to book, but this has been nowhere near the number it ought to have been and these criminals have been free to prey on the unwary, largely unchecked.

The only reason that there has been any action at all was purely down to the Olympic games and its tickets, which saw the creation of Operation Podium, instigated to deal with this aspect. In fairness Operation Podium has managed to deal with a few notorious fraudsters but their brief has been Olympic led and now that is over the flurry of interest will once again disappear into the ether.

Every now and again we see a minor flicker of interest from music industry professionals but it rarely leads to any real action and it never protects the music fan, and at the end of the day it is the music fan who really misses out - and of course you and I as it's the rest of us who bear the brunt of all those credit card refunds.

Are our music promoters really concerned about the fact that their tickets are being re-sold on these sites for grossly inflated prices? Are they concerned that real fans are finding it harder and harder to get tickets to major events? Safeconcerts would like to think so but the evidence suggests not, in fact we would go further and suggest that there has been a lot of collusion within the market place and there are few who really take decisive action.

Despite the fact that in February this year Channel 4's Dispatches exposed what we all already knew in "The Great Ticket Scandal" little has really changed. Read our report here. In fact following this programme Viagogo went into liquidation very quietly and moved all their business dealings to Switzerland. Read our report here.

All tickets have terms and conditions attached to them; one such condition states quite clearly that the reselling is not permitted. The ticket cannot be resold. For example, the small print on the See Tickets website states: "By ordering, you agree that the tickets are for the personal use of you and your party only, and will not be resold or transferred. Any resale or attempt to resell the tickets at a price higher than purchased will result in your orders being cancelled without prior notification."

These conditions are never enforced and one wonders why they bother to use them if no one is going to challenge those who blatantly and regularly disregard the rules. There have been plenty of 'meetings' plenty of 'charters' plenty of 'jumping on the bandwagon' when the subject hits the media, but there has been no real or meaningful action taken - until now.

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) has been the only organisation to stand out from the rest and have taken court action against  Viagogo. The RFU won their court case in March this year having sought court approval to get an order forcing Viagogo to reveal the names and addresses of people who advertised for sale and/or sold tickets for 2010's internationals and the 2011 Six Nations championship.

Viagogo chose to appeal and in a landmark ruling yesterday (21/11/12) the Supreme Court found in favour of Rugby Football Union. Viagogo will now have to hand over to the Rugby Football Union the names and addresses of people who sold on tickets to England rugby matches via its website.

This is just the start of the story, the RFU have told the Guardian Newspaper that once it had the names, "appropriate sanctions will be handed down". This effectively means that individuals and clubs could find their ticket allocations suspended. They could also be publicly named and shamed. The best news is that legal action could force sellers to return the profits made from these illegitimate ticket sales.

Yesterdays ruling could have some interesting knock on effects for the UK's secondary ticketing market and offers a real opportunity for change, Safeconcerts hope that the ruling will give our promoters the confidence to take a proper stance against secondary sites, fraudsters and touts with the knowledge that there is a precedent now set that is backed by a Supreme Court ruling.

However, Viagogo remain as unrepentant as ever and have issued the following statement:

The English Rugby Football Union (RFU) has been pursuing Viagogo, the world’s largest ticket market place, in various courts for the past two years over the resale of rugby tickets. The case was elevated all the way to the Supreme Court and was eventually heard on 14th June 2012. On 21st November 2012, the Supreme Court returned its verdict. Importantly, in a victory for sports fans, the resale of rugby tickets is still legal. In fact, more people are reselling rugby tickets on Viagogo than ever before ahead of England’s autumn internationals against South Africa and New Zealand.

Viagogo spokesperson Ed Parkinson said: "Here are the facts. Not only is it still legal to buy and sell rugby tickets, but our sales have gone through the roof - in fact, we are now the largest rugby ticket market place on the planet. While the RFU may have run off with a handful of names from sales that took place several years ago, I can assure you that this will not happen again. Thanks to the RFU and the publicity they have generated around this case, our rugby ticket business is now bigger and our data protection is now better, so fans may therefore now buy and sell rugby tickets on Viagogo with absolute confidence that their information will be protected in future."

Let's hope that the ticket buying public and the music industry take on board Viagogo's response and show them that they are wrong.

It remains to be seen whether or not the music industry will embrace this ruling and see a way forward, it could be used as a springboard to challenge all those across the board who seek to rip off ticket buying fans. It could be an opportunity for real change and it could be an opportunity to make sure that those precious tickets are sold at face value to genuine music fans.

In the meantime the ticket market remains as dodgy as it has ever been, Safeconcerts has always recommended that you buy from legitimate, primary websites only.

The best way to know what sort of website you are buying from is to check out the Safeconcerts Be Ticket Safe Directory ® plea spread the word and buy from legitimate sites only.

Your Ratings & Comments
Viagogo - nothing has changed.
Written by nancyhaven | 17th May 2013
Almost 6 months have passed and nothing has changed. Viagogo still trading and still as strong as ever.
Written by ackerman2406 | 22nd Nov 2012
I'm afraid the ruling by the Supreme Court has nothing to do with ticket touting and everything to do with trespassing.
The RFU owns the Twickenham grounds and considers secondary buyers of their tickets to be trespassers on their property.
I know I am being over-simplistic here, but basically that's why the RFU were able to take Viagogo to court in order to obtain the information they wanted.
As Viagogo are forced to reveal the details of their sellers we ask: Is this the beginning of the end for greedy fan to fan ticketing?

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