Ticket scalping has become a significant concern in the U.S. and around the world in recent years. While companies like Live Nation have forged agreements with the U.S. Justice Department amid concerns of unfair business methods, some musicians like Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam have come up with their own methods of limiting the practice. The U.K., however, may have just taken the most hardline approach to ticket scalpers when they sentenced two men in London to six and a half total years in prison for reselling millions of dollars worth of tickets to shows like Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift.
According to Billboard, Leeds Crown Court has doled out the heavy sentence to Peter Hunter and David Smith, who bought and resold 5.2 million dollars worth of concert and theatre show tickets using fake identities and harvesting software between 2010 and 2017. The married couple bought over 750 Sheeran tickets in one year alone, which they sold well over face value on websites like Viagogo and StubHub, earning them a four and two and a half year prison sentence respectively.
While much of their $14 million earnings came from Sheeran and Swift concerts, they also scalped tickets to shows like Lady Gaga, Blink-182, Rod Stewart, and many more. An investigation of their home saw law enforcement recover over 100 payment cards with 37 different names.
FanFair Alliance campaign manager Adam Webb told Billboard that the first U.K. prosecution of its kind represents “a major blow to online ticket touts [scalpers] who break the law and rip off the public.” He also noted that it’s a favorable result “for music lovers across the U.K. [that] should also send shockwaves through the likes of Viagogo and StubHub whose businesses are dependent upon large-scale resellers.”
While the news of this decision is unlikely to destroy the secondary ticket market overnight, perhaps it will encourage more countries, like the United States, to take a firmer stance on the subject.