Seeking to end the use of software “bots,” computer programs that can scoop up large blocks of tickets quickly, Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen Thursday signed into law a measure that makes the use of such software illegal in the state. Tennessee is one of several states to propose such restrictions.
The law calls on online ticketing brokers to watch for people buying up large blocks of tickets, and for them to pass on the suspicious buyer’s unique IP address to state authorities for further investigation. If caught, users of such software would be subject to a Class B misdemeanor “punishable only by a fine of not more than $5000 or any profits made or tickets acquired in the course of the violation, whichever is greater.” At one point, the legislature considered a stronger bill that would have banned the resale of tickets above face value, or $3 above face value with fees, but ended up removing that language in favor of the softer bill the governor signed.
As in other states, the Tennessee law grew out of problems associated with last year’s wildly successful Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus tour, for which thousands of fans were shut out from buying tickets. While angry parents and politicians were quick to point a finger at ticket brokers and RMG Technologies, makers of software that can quickly buy tickets, most of the proposed bills failed to address the actions of promoters, fan clubs and venue operators, among others, who had vested interests in withholding large blocks of tickets from the public. Tickets that were either released later or often found their way to auctions sites.
Connecticut is one of the few states to consider a proposal to force promoters and venues to release at least 75 percent of the available tickets for any particular event, but the bill remains stuck at the committee level of the state legislature.