A California government official has proposed legislation that would ban Ticketmaster’s “secret scalper program,” TradeDesk, from selling tickets on the secondary market.
According to the Toronto Star, Assembly Member Bill Quirk proposed the legislation following scathing reports last year exposing TradeDesk. During the annual Ticket Summit conference in Las Vegas, held for ticket brokers, two reporters from The Star went undercover and spoke to a sales representative promoting Trade Desk. The representative admitted that Ticketmaster works with brokers and operates in resale.
Nathan Little, Quirk’s senior legislative aide, said that The Star‘s reporting “prompted a look into this.”
“It’s the goal of the state in enacting consumer protections in this area to make sure that average Californians have equitable access to tickets,” Little said.
Quirk’s legislation essentially groups TradeDesk with bots and wants to expand upon anti-bot laws that are already in place to include TradeDesk.
“While it looks and acts like what we would consider a bot, the distinction may be drawn that TradeDesk is actually a service, which allows a ticket scalper to more effectively skirt the law against use of bots,” a committee analysis prepared for the California legislature notes. “According to the Toronto Star, Ticketmaster employees have advertised TradeDesk in a way that is functionally indistinguishable from bots.”
Quirk explained in a written statement that it is “unacceptable” for Ticketmaster to take advantage of its position and “is important we protect our consumers, and not let big companies abuse our power,” noting that it doesn’t matter if scalpers are using Trade Desk or not because either way, “these practices should not be allowed.”
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Industry professionals believe that this legislation could be a game-changer. One London-based security consultant for artists and concerts in the U.K. told The Star that the proposed legislation is “groundbreaking,” while an industry executive in the U.S. in competition with Ticketmaster said that many people within the industry welcome the legislation. Experts told the publication that if the legislation is passed in California, the industry could see change across the country.
Courts within the U.S. and across Canada will have to consider the issue, since Ticketmaster is a ticketing giant in both countries. Currently, there is a class-action lawsuit against the company from Sotos Law Group; the firm claims that Ticketmaster willfully used bot software to obtain tickets. Additionally, the Merchant Law Group, based in Regina, changed their ongoing class-action suit against Ticketmaster to include TradeDesk, but had to shift their focus after the Competition Bureau ruled that TradeDesk did not breach federal competition law.
A third lawsuit, brought on by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, is brewing. Shapiro claims that Ticketmaster is “secretly facilitating a shortage of its product” with the use of TradeDesk. These suits are still ongoing.
Quirk’s proposed legislation already passed in three committees unanimously and will be voted on this week before it will move on to the state senate.