It used to be a rite of passage: spending the night in a line outside the box office to score tickets to the Stones, Springsteen, or [insert your favorite group here]. The convenience of internet ticket sales ended the sleeping-on-the-sidewalk ritual. But online ticket sales raised another concern: Were prospective buyers losing out to computer programs that scooped up the best seats only to resell them at inflated prices? Congress responded to that issue by passing the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016.
It’s no coincidence that it’s called the BOTS Act because the law outlaws the use of computer software like bots that game the ticket system. Specifically, the BOTS Act makes it illegal to “circumvent a security measure, access control system, or other technological control or measure on an Internet website or online service that is used by the ticket issuer to enforce posted event ticket purchasing limits or to maintain the integrity of posted online ticket purchasing order rules.”
The BOTS Act addresses more than just buying tickets illegally. Congress also made it illegal to sell tickets obtained in violation of the statute if the seller participated in the illegal purchase or knew or should have known that the tickets were acquired in violation of the law.
The law applies to public concerts, theater performances, sporting events, and similar events at venues with seating capacity of over 200. The State AGs and the FTC have enforcement authority.
That’s a brief recap that could fit on the back of a ticket. If you have clients interested in this issue, you’ll want to read the BOTS Act in its entirety. And remember that many states also have laws relating to ticket sales.