Good news for music fans: a new California law aims to make it more difficult for scalpers to use automated software to buy up massive numbers of tickets to popular events like Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift shows and resell them for steep margins.
Modern ticket scalping has come a long way from a couple of dudes standing outside an arena asking if you need tickets to the game. Today, scalpers use online ticket buying “bots” to buy up all the seats to that upcoming Katy Parry concert within seconds, leaving fans – the people who are actually interested in seeing the show – with no choice to but to buy the tickets through sites like Ebay, StubHub, or Craigslist for ridiculously high prices.
A new law in California is looking to change that.
New Law Bans Ticket-Buying Bots
AB 329 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, and will make mass ticket purchases – the first step in modern ticket scalping – a crime, reports the Los Angeles Times:
The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, makes it a misdemeanor subject to up to six months in jail and special civil fines of up to $2,500 to use software to circumvent the security of ticket-selling websites to conduct mass purchases.
Ticket selling giant Ticketmaster supports the new law, but adds it’s only “one step in combating nefarious scalping practices.”
Ticketmaster is looking for other ways to make sure fans – human fans, not software bots – get access to tickets at fair market prices.
Other supporters of the law include consumer advocacy groups, California’s five baseball teams, and StubHub, a popular ticket re-selling marketplace.
Internet Provides Easy Marketplace for Scalpers
Before the Internet, scalpers had to camp out in front of the box office for hours, just like the true fans, but now they use ultra-sophisticated software to gobble up all the available tickets within seconds. So humans trying to buy tickets for face value find their events sold out before they can even click “Buy Now.”
The scalpers then have an easy market. There are plenty of fans willing to spend $300 or more on a concert or a game, even if the ticket’s face value is normally $80 or $90.
That’s a hefty profit margin, which makes scalping big business. But it’s certainly not fair to the true “Beliebers” out there.
Ticketmaster has tried to introduce pricing structures that would allow artists, teams, and the people who actually put on the show to capture some of that difference, introducing airline-style pricing schemes that increase prices for popular shows and seats, thereby cutting into scalpers’ margins – but this isn’t a great solution because it still makes it more expensive for the true fans.
New California Ticket Sale Law is Potential Win-Win for Fans
Hopefully, the bot-ban will curb scalping, and at the same time help keep tickets affordable for 13-year-olds who have been saving up their allowance for the chance to see their favorite artist in person.
At the moment, the law only applies to tickets sold in California, but it may set a precedent for similar bills in other states.
Have you ever tried to buy tickets and found them sold out within seconds? Share your experiences and tips in the comments below.
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