Music | January 25, 2021 6:00 am

Ticket Resellers Fined $3.7 Million for Bot Usage

It's the first penalty issued under the BOTS Act

A hand holding a concert ticket
The first major penalty was just issued against a group of ticket resellers.
Jim Rankin/Toronto Star via Getty Images

In late 2016, Congress passed the Better Online Ticket Sales Act, also known as the BOTS Act. Its target? Ticket resellers who use bots to buy up massive amounts of available tickets for a given event so that they can be sold at a significant markup. In an article at The New York Times published around the law’s passage, Ben Sisario wrote that “[i]t would make it illegal to circumvent the security measures of ticketing websites, which bots often do, and would give enforcement authority to the Federal Trade Commission.”

Over 4 years later, the FTC has issued its first fines for violations of the BOTS Act. Engadget reports that three companies — Concert Specials, Just in Time Tickets and Cartisim — now face $3.7 million in fines for their use of bots and other practices designed to circumvent rules established to prohibit such behavior.

This is not the first fine levied against this trio of companies. Pitchfork’s article on the case reveals that the fines initially came to over $31 million, which the companies were unable to pay.

In a statement on the case, the FTC’s Acting Chairwoman, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, addressed the timing of this announcement – in other words, that a case focusing on live music was entering the spotlight due to a time when the pandemic has put so many events on pause.

“Reminiscing about our favorite live experiences, we might be forgiven for forgetting the hassles we endured to secure the tickets in the first place,” Slaughter wrote. “But the many problems that plague the live-event ticketing market are certain to return as soon as the events do.” Perhaps these fines will help reduce those problems when live events begin to have an audience again.

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