Obama Signs Anti-Bot Legislation into Law

This week, President Barack Obama signed into law legislation making it illegal to use ticket bots, those obnoxious software programs that scoop up tickets to concerts and events the second they go on sale and make it nearly impossible for fans to buy them.

The Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS) had been passed by both houses of Congress last week. It will “outlaw the sale of tickets obtained through such technologies ‘if the seller participated in, had the ability to control, or should have known about the violations’,” Billboard says.

A White House press secretary said the law will “prohibit the circumvention of control measures used by internet ticket sellers to ensure equitable consumer access to tickets for certain events.”

In a statement released Friday, Ticketmaster is “pleased that the BOTS At is now a federal law. Ticketmaster worked closely with legislators to develop the BOTS Act and we believed its passage is a critical step in raising awareness and regulating the unauthorized use of bots.”

As Engadget explains, the law allows both the software user and “anyone who has knowledge of how the tickets were obtained can be held liable for the offense. The BOTS Act also gives state governments the power to bring a civil suit to US district court on behalf of its residents. During those proceedings, states can seek to obtain damages, restitution or other compensation for the affected residents in the case. The law gives the Federal Trade Commission the power to intervene in those civil cases as well.”

It’s worth nothing at New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed similar legislation into law a few weeks ago, meaning the federal law reinforces the state law in the name of helping customers. The New York law goes into effect 90 days after it was signed; the federal legislation was effective immediately upon Obama’s signature.

The full text of the BOTS Act is available here.

Editor’s note: This article was amended on Dec. 28 to correct the effective date of the federal legislation. It was previously stated that both the federal and New York State law would take effect in early 2017. The author apologizes for the error. 

Amber Healy

I write about music policy and lawsuits because they're endlessly fascinating.

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