A New Jersey U.S. Representative is taking a second stab at passing national legislation that would bring transparency to online ticket sales and target the controversial use of computer technology in the purchase of concert tickets.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, a Democrat from New Jersey’s newly realigned 8th District, announced on May 2, 2012 that he plans on re-introducing “The BOSS ACT,” dubbing this incarnation the “2012 Tour.” Pascrell previously introduced a bill by the same name in 2009, but it never made it past the initial committee stage.
This re-packaged bill is, according to Pascrell, a response to the glitches that occurred in January of 2012 when Bruce Springsteen tickets went on sale for the New Jersey stops of his “Wrecking Ball Tour.” When tickets initially went on sale in January, numerous fans reported that they were unable to purchase the tickets, stating that they were kicked out of the Ticketmaster system and received error messages when attempting to purchase seats. This year’s ticketing difficulties brought up bad memories of Springsteen’s 2009 concert tour, which saw fans being redirected to Ticketmaster’s secondary ticketing website and sparked a lawsuit that ended with a $16.5 million settlement.
According to Ticketmaster, this most recent ticketing controversy was a result of the site receiving greater than anticipated traffic, with a spokesperson for the website stating that the traffic came from “highly suspicious sources, implying that scalpers were using sophisticated computer programs to assault [the] systems and secure tickets with the sole intention of selling them in the resale market.”
As in 2009, when he initially drafted “The BOSS ACT,” Pascrell’s new version of the bill is aimed at protecting consumers from the trials and travails of online ticket buying. “This is a multi-billion dollar business filled with corruption, kickbacks and backroom deals and the little guy doesn’t stand a chance,” Pascrell said in his May 2, 2012 Newark, NJ press conference.
“The BOSS ACT – 2012 Tour,” standing for “Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing,” is meant to craft a two prong attack on online ticketing. First, the bill would require all primary ticketing sites to maintain public lists of how many tickets are remaining for an event, as well as disclose how many tickets are being withheld from the general onsales for fan club sales and special pre-sales. In addition, the bill would require all brokers, who would be required to register with the FTC, to observe a 48 hour moratorium on purchasing tickets from primary onsales.
The second prong of the bill is aimed specifically at combating computer bot technology from impeding the ticket purchase process for general consumers. The bill would outlaw the use of computer bot technology, which manages to circumvent the security measures put in place by ticketing sites to limit the number of tickets purchased by a specific consumer, as well as create a special Justice Department task force which would be charged with the prosecution of those who continue to use the technology.
Currently, the bill is only in its initial committee stage and there is certainly no guarantee that it will move beyond this stage. Pascrell’s 2009 bill was unable to make it out of committee. However, as ticketing issues continue to exist for popular events, it becomes more likely that the government will eventually step in and initiate stronger laws to protect consumers.