Is it illegal to use bots to buy concert tickets?

  • Posted on: 10 Jul 2024
    Is it illegal to use bots to buy concert tickets?

  • Is it legal to use bots to purchase concert tickets?

    One such practice that has recently come into the limelight is the use of ticket bots and other automated software programs to buy large quantities of tickets online within a short span of time. Some of these bots enable ticket resellers and scalpers to purchase most of the most desirable tickets to hot concert and events and then repost them on other markets at much higher prices. Of course, this always brings much annoyance to other fans who cannot purchase tickets directly from the stadium or at a normal price. This has led some to wonder whether it should in fact be legally acceptable to use such bots to interfere.

    What Are Ticket Bots?

    Ticket bots are basically scripts developed for the specific purpose of searching and purchasing the tickets for sale as soon as possible. For instance, with complex data sets, they can complete orders at a much faster rate than any human user could. Even some of the most advanced and current bots have the capability of analyzing patterns to determine the best way and time to capture the tickets that are desired. This enables the resellers to purchase tickets in bulk within the shortest time possible meaning that it is almost impossible for a common consumer to purchase tickets from the original sellers at the recommended prices.

    This is due to the fact that the tickets are bought very cheap and then they are sold at two, three or even ten times higher than the initial price this makes it very lucrative business for those who use the bots. They can make huge revenues from ticket sales of famous music concerts, sports and other Broadway performances within a short span of time and without much sweat. Yet it is done at the expense of the fans and results in the increase of prices not only in the primary but secondary markets as well.

    Is the Use of Ticket Bots Legal or Banned as of the Current Time

    The issue of whether ticket bots are legal or not relies primarily on the legal frameworks and polices in different states. This is a list of states that have implemented anti-bot laws so far, these include, New York, California, and Pennsylvania and recently Utah . Many of these laws specifically outlaw the use of bots or other forms of software to gain an unfair advantage over other buyers to acquire tickets faster and in greater numbers. The laws are usually enforced through civil penalties and fines against those who are found violating it.

    However, in other states, no definitive rules exist against or controlling the use of ticket bots. Since there are currently no legal restrictions in these areas, scalpers can continue to solely rely on the economic incentives of reselling tickets to use bots. The increasing public outrage over tickets that are not fairly distributed has seen more state governments and Congress prosecute.

    Federal law was enacted to respond to complaints of ticket buying and reselling, known as the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act, signed by President Barack Obama in 2016. This made the employment of bots in avoiding ticket purchase rules as unlawful across the country . This meant that offenders were now at the peril of being fined by the Federal Trade Commission and risk a jail term of up to one year for their first offense. However, others claimed that it is still replete with more loopholes that only bot users with high levels of sophistication can easily notice. However, enforcement has also been a issue so far with many bots still allowed to freely operate in various states.

    The Issues Surrounding Stricter Bot Bans – For and Against

    Some people wish to ban ticket buying bots citing that their use is utterly wrong as it denies the public an equal opportunity to purchase their preferred tickets. It enables the resellers who have software skills to enrich themselves by offering items that everyone wants to use during high demand events. Depending on their moral compass, they think this kind of behavior is unfair and should be against the law no matter the circumstance.

    On the other side, opponents of stricter bot bans argue that such tickets are public goods like any others. Just as people are willing to buy second hand at these highly inflated prices, resellers are offering a service which meets this need. Some critics say that banning the practice might infringe on principles of free enterprise and can be potentially damaging as a form of government overregulation.

    Other arguments have been equally raised, suggesting that even if bots are prohibited, clever hackers will look for other technical ways of getting hold of the tickets. Or ticket sales may just refer to other less regulated secondary markets that do not guarantee less cases of consumer fraud. Some other economists have recommended the abolition of ticket caps and limits and let the prices float freely, following the law of demand and supply. However, such solutions do not seem plausible today due to the poor reception that they would receive from the public and the event organizers.

    Ongoing Controversy and Challenges

    Some of the issues raised by this debate regarding the use of bots in order to gain an unfair advantage over others in the acquisition of tickets for events does not seem to be going away any time soon. Quite the contrary, the push for workable policies to address the practice become even more challenging as site security enhances and innovative technologies advance. Still, there are expectations that are placed on politicians, police officers, ticket suppliers, and hosts to decrease the use of bots which remain causing disappointment.

    However, due to the complexity of primary and secondary markets, it has proven difficult to have consistent enforcement of anti-bot laws in many states. The first challenge that arises in the fight against bots includes figuring out the technical ways of detecting bot activity at scale. Another challenge is reduction in budgets for regulatory agencies, which limits their capacity to undertake these measures. For these reasons, bots are still able to capture and flip big batches even though there are more regulations in place.

    Finally, both the ideas of fairness and equals opportunities, free markets, innovation, and consumers’ choice are the concepts that are interrelated in this permanent debate. The basic motivation of scalpers and ticket bots is to make a lot of money so they have the necessary motivation to take Technical measures to work around anything. However, the obstruction of ticket buying access for the public still holds the drive for a stronger counter measure. Unless there is a significant change in the values placed by one side, or the other on this issue, the cat and mouse game around ticket bots appears set to go on for more of the same in the foreseeable future.