Pennsylvania is the latest state to consider banning computer software programs that can surreptitiously procure large blocks of event tickets before the general public can get a crack at them.
The bill, HB464, has sat in the state Senate for almost a year but could be voted on as early as Monday, April 19, when the Senate resumes its current session. The state House unanimously passed the provision in late April 2009 and moved it onto the Senate the following month.
“It’s on their daily calendar,” a Pennsylvania Senate spokesperson told TicketNews today. The Senate session is scheduled to end in November, so if no action is taken on it by then the bill will die until next year. If approved by the Senate, the bill will move to Gov. Ed Rendell’s desk for signature.
The Pennsylvania bill states, “It is unlawful for a person to knowingly use ticket purchasing software and acquire tickets from a ticket seller, if the tickets would not have been acquired by the person but for the use of the ticket purchasing software. A person who violates this section commits a misdemeanor and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to a fine of five thousand dollars ($5,000). Each ticket acquired through the use of ticket purchasing software in violation of this section constitutes a separate offense.”
It also describes “ticket purchasing software,” also known as “bot software,” as “Computer software primarily designed for the purpose of interfering with the operations of a ticket seller by circumventing: (i) a security measure of the ticket seller’s Internet website; (ii) an access control system of the ticket seller’s Internet website; or (iii) any function or operation of the ticket seller’s Internet website designed to ensure that the sale of tickets, including, but not limited to, the number of tickets sold to a single purchaser, occurs in an equitable manner for members of the public.”
Several states have moved to ban bot software in the past 18 months, but earlier this week such legislation died in Connecticut at the committee level after opposition to other parts of the bill.
Measures to ban such software took on a more urgent tone following the federal indictments of several members of Wiseguy Tickets, a Las Vegas-based company accused of allegedly using such programs to obtain tens millions of dollars of worth of tickets to high profile events.
In the summer of 2007, Rendell signed into law measures that legalized ticket resale over the Internet in the state, a proposal sponsored by state Sen. Tommy Tomlinson. Tomlinson chairs the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, which is supporting the current House bill; he could not be reached for comment.
The state has an interesting recent history with ticketing, with the state’s Attorney General settling a complaint with Miley Cyrus’ fan club for alleged false advertising, and Ticketmaster successfully winning a multi-million judgment against notorious bot company RMG Technologies, which was based in Pittsburgh.