Update: NY AG Continues War on Ticket-Buying Bots

iStock_000074830015_SmallAs we wrote in February, NY AG Eric Schneiderman has made New York’s ticketing industry a prime target, beginning with a blistering report on ticketing practices in January.  The NY AG also announced settlements with six ticket brokers on April 26, 2016, worth approximately $2.8 million.

The latest salvo came on April 28, 2016, when the NY AG announced that he would propose legislation to toughen New York’s anti-ticket bot law.  A “bot” is a computer program designed to perform a particular task, often many times in quick succession, without additional input from a user.  (Many websites that require a user, for example, to input numbers or letters from a picture, are meant to stop bots from being used to access the site.)  New York already prohibits the use of “automated ticket purchasing software” to purchase tickets, and imposes civil monetary penalties on the use of such software when used “in order to bypass security measures to purchase tickets.”  N.Y. Arts & Cult. Aff. Law § 25.24.  A typical use of such software, according to the AG’s report, would be to use bots to purchase hundreds or thousands of tickets only minutes after they go on sale, with the intent of then re-selling the tickets at higher prices once all the tickets sell out.

The AG’s proposed legislation would increase the number of kinds of bots subject to the law, enhance the civil monetary penalties, make the use of ticket bots a criminal offense, and specifically outlaw the sale of tickets that have been acquired using ticketing bots.  The last of these provisions is necessary because the current law allows the AG to pursue “[a]ny person who knowingly utilizes automated ticket purchasing software” or who “maintains any interest in or maintains any control of the operation” of bots; the law does not, however, outlaw selling tickets that have been obtained by the bots of another.  Calling for a close of this “loophole,” the AG blasted “so-called ticket brokers” who “fence tickets illegally obtained” using bots.

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