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New law aims to cripple ticket-buying-bots

New law aims to cripple ticket-buying-bots (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) On Z-104, DJ’s Dave Gunderson and Deb Turpin give away a lot of concert tickets. But for every country music fan whose day they're able to make, Dave and Deb hear way more complaints about the tickets that aren't there.

“Luke Bryan always sells out, of course Taylor Swift always sells out and that's where the guys on the street corner come in,” Turpin says. “I've had friends that just pay outrageous prices, but they want to go bad they're willing to pay that.”

Ticket brokers have what some consider to be an unfair if not unethical advantage: ticket-bots. A ticket bot is essentially a piece of software a broker can purchase that is programmed to buy up seats as quickly as possible.

You, the human ticket buyer, can't even hope to keep up with a computer program hunting the same seats. A blink of an eye takes 300 to 400 milliseconds. A bot works in a fraction of that time, requiring just 10 to 20 milliseconds and gobbling up a thousand tickets a minute according to professional hacker

All those bot-bought tickets are turned around and resold on websites where you, the fan, are forced to pay way more than the face value.

Some artists have been fighting back on behalf of their fans.

Garth Brooks added shows during his last visit to Salt Lake City to keep demand low so that people reselling tickets couldn't jack up the prices.

MORE: Get Gephardt: Garth Brooks declares war on ticket scalpers as part of Utah visit

Some artists have been requiring fans show up with, not just the ticket, but also the original credit card used to buy the seats in order to get in to doors.

MORE: Battle against ticket scalpers could leave some fans unable to use purchased tickets

The Broadway show, "Hamilton," which is coming to Salt Lake next year, is fighting bots by canceling tickets purchased in masse, the show's producer recently testified at a Senate hearing in DC.

"We know that bots purchased over 70 percent of those tickets," Jeffrey Seller testified.

In fact, bots have become a hot issue in D.C. and, now, Congress is trying to level the playing field by making a lot of what bots do against the law.

Passed last year, The Better Online Ticketing Sales, or B.O.T.S. Act bans things like buying more tickets than allowed in a show's "posted limits" or “circumventing a security measure," like teaching a bot how to click a box that says, "click here if you're not a bot."

How the law will be enforced remains to be seen. Lawmakers say websites like StubHub.com have been told they need to be very careful not to let scalpers who use bots sell tickets on their sites.

But a StubHub spokesperson says it's impossible for StubHub to know how the tickets being sold on their site “were actually procured.” They can't be the ones policing bots, she argues.

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