Blackburn, Cohen, Cooper, DesJarlais Co-sponsor Bill to End Use of Ticket-purchasing Bots

Press release from U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. 07; February 4, 2015:

U.S. Representatives Marsha Blackburn (TN-07), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), and Jim Cooper (TN-05) today introduced H.R. 708, the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act.

H.R. 708 would make the use of bots to circumvent security measures employed by ticketing sites an “unfair and deceptive practice” under the Federal Trade Commission Act, and a crime under Title 18 of the U.S. Code. It would also create a private right of action whereby parties harmed by bots can sue in federal court to recover damages.

“I am pleased to be working on a bi-partisan basis with the Tennessee delegation on this important legislation,” Rep. Blackburn said. “Scalpers have been taking advantage of computer hacking software (BOTS) to circumvent restrictions put in place by on-line ticketing agents for years. They purchase tickets in mass quantities and sell them at a considerably marked up rate, which hurts fans of live entertainment who get priced out of the market. The Live Entertainment industry goes to great lengths to build relationships with its fans and ensure that they will access to shows. The BOTS Act will allow FTC enforcement, criminal sanctions, and a private right of action to be brought against on-line scalpers. It is time to level the on-line ticket playing field for fans of live entertainment.”

“With many fans already finding ticket prices for their favorite artists and events too high, it is disappointing that scalpers would seek to extract even more money out of consumers by using unfair ticket-purchasing and reselling practices,” said Rep. Cohen. “The BOTS Act would help end these anti-consumer tactics and clarify that using computer programs to snap up all available tickets to resell at a much higher price is, in fact, illegal under the Federal Trade Commission Act.”

“I am proud to have cosponsored this commonsense legislation that cracks down on deceptive ticket scalpers,” Rep. DesJarlais said. “For too long, scam artists have used computer hacking software to drastically increase the cost of attending an event. This bill protects American consumers by making the use of BOTS illegal.”

“Computer programs shouldn’t be allowed to cheat people out of fair ticket prices and great entertainment,” Rep. Cooper said.

Organizations supporting this bipartisan legislation include The Recording Academy, Live Nation Entertainment, as well as the Tennessee Sports and Entertainment Industry Coalition.

Daryl Friedman, Chief Advocacy & Industry Relations Officer of The Recording Academy praised the legislation saying: “The relationship that forms when an artist connects to a fan through his or her music is at the core of what makes music special. Artists try to keep their tickets affordable for their fans, but scalpers move in and drive up the price by using automated ticket ‘bots’ to make it harder for fans to buy tickets to see their favorite artist perform live. On behalf of The Recording Academy, I want to thank Congressman Marsha Blackburn, along with Reps. Steve Cohen, Jim Cooper, and Scott DesJarlais, for introducing the ‘BOTS Act’ so that artists will be able to offer concert tickets to fans in the manner that they want, ensuring that the special connection between music lovers and music makers continues.”