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Music group seeks share in concert ticket re-sales

Music management groups representing some of Britain’s biggest acts are seeking a share of the proceeds from concert tickets re-sold over the Internet on Web sites like eBay, Viagogo and Seat Exchange. But they are likely to face stiff resistance from the sites, one of which has argued that such a levy would effectively mean paying an artist twice for the same ticket.

Management organizations behind more than 400 performers, including Robbie Williams, the Arctic Monkeys and Radiohead, aim to unite the live music industry in a new Resale Rights Society that would license the unregulated secondary ticket market.

Tickets to gigs are regularly re-sold online, often for many times the face value, but also for much less.

There have been complaints from musicians in the past, although they have tended to focus on the re-sale of tickets to concerts specifically designed to raise money for charity.

Marc Marot, formerly of Island Records and chairman-elect of the Resale Rights Society, estimated the business generated around 200 million pounds ($400 million) annually in Britain.

“The secondary ticketing market offers benefits to music fans and the live music industry alike. It does not make sense to try and criminalize it,” Marot said in a statement.

“On the other hand there are not only real issues of consumer protection here, it is unacceptable that not a penny of the estimated 200 million pounds … is returned to the investors in the live music industry.

“Where this trade is fair to consumers, we propose to authorize it by agreeing a levy on all transactions.”

The group also wants to protect music fans by introducing a “kite-mark” scheme to prevent bogus tickets going on sale.

The Resale Rights Society is expected to meet for the first time before the end of January, 2008 and wants to finalize agreements with online ticket exchanges by the end of March.

But the exchanges are unimpressed.

Eric Baker, founder of www.viagogo.com, said that once an individual paid for a ticket, they owned it and could do with it what they wished.

“What they are saying here is no different to (saying) that if you had a used Ford car you should pay Ford a tax when you sold it,” he told Reuters. “If I have a Harry Potter book to re-sell, do I pay J.K. Rowling twice?”

Baker said his Web site already worked with major musical acts who used it to auction tickets for charity.

“At Viagogo we work for the fans, and we are not going to support a proposal that taxes a fan.”

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