Bill Outlawing Ticket-Buying Bots Approved in Congress
Lawmakers have heard the outcry, both from fans and artists alike, over automated online ticket-buying programs that have made getting tickets for concerts and other events tricky. A bill that would outlaw ticket-buying "bots" is on its way to the president's desk to be signed into law.
On Wednesday (Dec. 7), the House of Representatives passed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (aka, the BOTS Act) with bipartisan support, after the Senate passed the bill just after Thanksgiving. Once President Barack Obama signs the BOTS Act into law, the AP reports, ticket-buying bots will be considered an "unfair an deceptive practice," and the Federal Trade Commission will be allowed to pursue legal action against those using such software.
"The need to end this growing practice is reflected in the bill's widespread support," says Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, the bill's Republican sponsor, adding that the legislation will "level the playing field."
According to the New York Times, Ticketmaster estimates that bots are being used to buy 60 percent of shows' most-desired tickets. The AP cites an investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office that mentions how a single ticket broker bought more than 1,000 tickets to a U2 concert at New York City's Madison Square Garden within one minute; that investigation also notes that ticket re-sellers often mark their prices up, on average, to 49 percent above face value.
“With this soon-to-be-new law that will eliminate ‘bots’ and slap hackers with a hefty fine, we can now ensure those who want to attend shows in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices,” says New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, also a sponsor of the bill. Although some in the entertainment industry tell the Times that the new piece of legislation does not go far enough, they admit that it is a good start to making sure that fans can get tickets, at their intended price, to their favorite shows.
One country artist who is sure to be a fan of this new law is Eric Church. A longtime public opponent of ticket scalpers, Church and his team put in place a new pre-sale process to help further fight scalpers and reward his fan club members when tickets for his 2017 Holdin' My Own Tour went on sale: Scalpers who posed as fans were weeded out of the fan club pre-sale, and a system was put in place to flag scalpers’ orders and cancel them. Additionally, all tickets will be delivered on a delayed timeline, just days before each show, to make it harder for scalpers to sell off their tickets.
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