Obama signs law to combat ticket bots
From Hamilton diehards to Adele fans, bots have plagued customers purchasing tickets online for years. Now, the federal government has taken action to curtail these digital scams with the aptly titled Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, which President Obama signed into law on Thursday.
According to a press release from the White House, the new legislation “prohibits the circumvention of control measures used by Internet ticket sellers to ensure equitable consumer access to tickets for certain events.”
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who was among the bill’s sponsors, described the measure more bluntly earlier this month: “By eliminating ‘bots’ and slapping hackers with a hefty fine, we can better ensure those who want to attend shows in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices,” he wrote in a statement.
Ticket scalpers use bots as an automated, speedy way to quickly snatch up desirable tickets for concerts, reselling them at significantly inflated prices through secondary markets. In 2013, the ticket retailer Ticketmaster estimated that bots sometimes purchase more than 60 percent of the tickets for a given show; the company praised the passage of the BOTS Act. “On behalf of artists, venues, teams, and especially fans, Ticketmaster is pleased that the BOTS Act is now a federal law,” Ticketmaster announced. “Ticketmaster worked closely with legislators to develop the BOTS Act and we believe its passage is a critical step in raising awareness and regulating the unauthorized use of Bots.”
The BOTS Act had some high-profile proponents in the entertainment industry, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, who decried ticket bots in a June New York Times op-ed. “Incredibly, ticket bots are already illegal under New York law and their use is subject to civil penalties,” he wrote. “But the markup on resale tickets is so lucrative, earning brokers millions of dollars per year, that they happily risk prosecution and treat civil penalties as the cost of business.” The Hamilton creator concluded that “you shouldn’t have to fight robots just to see something you love.” In July, the New York Times reported that scalpers raked in more than $15.5 million from Miranda’s final 100 shows in the musical’s titular role.