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Congress Votes to Outlaw Ticket Bots, Which Have Been Jacking Up Your Ticket Prices

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Congress Votes to Outlaw Ticket Bots, Which Have Been Jacking Up Your Ticket Prices

Here’s at least one more way that 2017 will be better than the atrocious 2016: you might be able to actually get tickets to see your favorite bands.

On Wednesday, the House voted to pass a bill that the Senate approved last month outlawing the use of bots to buy tickets, calling it an “unfair and deceptive practice,” under the Federal Trade Commission Act.

Up until now, these “ticket bots”—i.e., computer software that mimics humans consumers, only it works much faster than they can—were a big reason why popular concert tickets often sold out immediately. Bots can obtain hundreds of tickets in seconds; the humans behind the machines then resell them at insane markups on third-party websites.

In 2014, for example, one ticket broker was able to use a bot to procure 1,012 tickets in a single minute for a U2 concert at Madison Square Garden, according to a report from the New York Attorney General’s office.

You might be wondering: why hasn’t this legislation existed up until now? What could possibly be the argument in favor of this kind of scalping?

But of course, many consider the practice to be “only” capitalism at work. The argument goes that the demand for tickets is higher than the supply, and that if those gosh-darn musicians would stop trying to make their shows “accessible” and just charge high enough prices themselves, the demand would sink to match that supply. But since they’re not doing that, scalping bots have every right to correct their error!

It turns out that musicians and fans aren’t the only ones who believe that live music shouldn’t be available only to those who can afford to pay the very highest price allowed by the market. Congress is often more than happy to promote deregulation, but in this case, they did have the decency to feel uncomfortable with the injustice of literal machines being pitted against humans.

This won’t get rid of all ticket scalpers, but it should at least mitigate the problem of being unable to afford jacked-up prices. Technically, the legislation still needs to be ratified by President Obama … but we’re talking about the guy who shares seasonal playlists, hosted a South by South Lawn festival at the White House, and gives musicians the Presidential Medal of Freedom. There shouldn’t be an issue.

Celebrate by reading this story of a scalper who was overcome by guilt and decided to quit the profession. Find the anti-ticket bot bill itself here.

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