The U.S. House has approved a bill that seeks to stop scalpers from using computer-hacking software to instantly gobble up online tickets for concerts and other live entertainment events, reports Michael Collins.
The Better Online Ticket Sales Act, which passed by voice vote late Monday, would make the use of so-called ticket bots an “unfair and deceptive act” subject to enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission.
The legislation, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, and Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., now heads to the Senate.
Scalpers often use bots to evade computer security and buy mass quantities of tickets for concerts and other live events immediately after the tickets go on sale online. They then resell the tickets at much higher prices.
“For years, ticket scalpers have been taking advantage of computer-hacking software to overwhelm online ticketing websites with requests,” Blackburn said. “These anti-consumer tactics have no place in our society, and it’s time we take action to protect fans of live entertainment.”
The bill would make use of ticket-buying bots a civil offense and allow the FTC to take action against online scalpers that use them. Individual ticket buyers also could sue for damages if they are shut out because scalpers used a ticket-buying bot.
Computer hacking software that instantly gobbles up online tickets for live entertainment events would be a civil offense under bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, reports The Tennessean.
The Better Online Ticket Sales Act would make the use of so-called ticket bots an “unfair and deceptive act”, enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission. It also would allow individual ticket buyers to sue for damages if they’re frozen out because someone used a bot.
“It is time to end these anti-consumer tactics and level the online ticket playing field for fans of live entertainment,” Blackburn, R-Brentwood, said in prepared statement.
The proposal is co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis; Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville; and Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg.
Scalpers have used bots to evade computer security and buy mass quantities of tickets to concerts and other live events immediately after the tickets go on sale.
Note: Rep. Blackburn’s press release is below.
News release from Department of Safety:
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Colonel Tracy Trott today announced the preliminary number of traffic fatalities on state roadways have decreased by nearly 14 percent (13.8%) for the first six months of 2013, compared to the same time period in 2012.
The THP reported 436 people died in traffic crashes in Tennessee from January 1 through June 30, 2013. That is 70 fewer than the 506 vehicular fatalities that occurred during the same dates in 2012. Please note these figures include vehicular fatalities reported by all law enforcement agencies across the state.
Colonel Trott also noted a 10.7 percent decline in alcohol-related crashes investigated by the THP. State Troopers worked 975 impaired driving accidents from January 1 through June 30, 2013, a drop from the 1,092 crashes involving alcohol the previous year during the same time frame.
“DUI enforcement has become one of our agency’s top priorities in the last few years. We have arrested 3,151 individuals on suspicion of impaired driving during the first six months of this year – a 9.8 percent increase from the 2,870 DUI arrests made the first half of 2012,” Colonel Trott said. “Each time we remove a drunk driver from our roadways, we reduce the chance of a serious injury or fatal crash occurring,” he added.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A bill seeking to put controls on the secondary ticket market has been withdrawn amid what its sponsor called fierce lobbying on both sides.
Republican Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville said he expects to bring back the measure backed by Ticketmaster parent Live Nation Worldwide Inc. next year.
Opponents of the bill, like eBay Inc. subsidiary StubHub, argued it would affect the legitimate transfer of tickets to sporting events and concerts by individuals and organizations. Supporters said it targeted online hoarding, price gouging and forgeries.
Lawmakers on both sides of the issue lamented what they called misinformation, large numbers of phone calls and emails, and the heavy lobbying on the bill.
A twice-delayed Senate vote on the companion bill has been rescheduled for Thursday.
Press release from Fan Freedom Project:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Legislation supported by Ticketmaster, which already controls with its partners the vast majority of ticket sales in Tennessee, will further tighten its grip on the ticket market, specifically the resale market, while stripping ticket-buyers of their property rights.
The latest measures go so far as to declare that ticket issuers can take away consumers’ tickets “at any time, with or without cause,” and without refunds being provided. Moreover, it empowers Ticketmaster and its partners with control over all that consumers do with tickets they have purchased, including the right to give them to charity, share them with friends or resell them.
Dubbed the “Fairness in Ticketing Act of 2012,” the bill includes several provisions that significantly benefit Ticketmaster, its parent LiveNation and its affiliates TicketsNow and TicketExchange.
(Note: The bill is SB3441/HB3447, according to the PR firm sending the release. The Legislature’s website still shows the measure as only a caption bill without amendments. Its’s sponsored by Sen. Mike Faulk, R-Church Hill, and Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville.)
Tennessee lawmakers outlawed texting while driving more than two years ago, observes Andrea Zelinski, and at the time, predictions were that 3,650 people a year would end up getting pinched thumbing their noses at the law while they thumbed away at their hand-held communication devices.
This year, Tennessee Highway Patrol has issued only 174 citations. Although state officials say they don’t know how many local police citations have been written up, lawmakers who drove the bill through the Legislature say that despite the lack of tickets issued, they still believe the new law has been a success, and not a solution in search of a problem.
“I think law enforcement is beginning to figure out how to enforce it now, and it is difficult, but I think you’re going to see more enforcement as we move on,” said Chairman Jim Tracy who carried the bill in the Senate and runs the chamber’s Transportation Committee.
In 2009, lawmakers approved the texting and driving ban under the assumption it would also collected some $41,600 in fines through the up to $50 per ticket fee.
But in 2010, the state only collected $2,010 in state and county-issued citations, drastically below the state’s original estimates. THP issued 171 citations that year.
Officials who hand off such projections to the Legislature admitted earlier this year they overestimated the number of citations that would be issued for texting and driving in Tennessee.
The new law has yet to cover the price of implementation, which cost taxpayers $10,500 in programming changes to departmental systems required to enforce and track violations of the ban.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — About 900,000 people are projected to travel by car over the long holiday weekend in Tennessee with a special law enforcement crackdown in effect.
Various law enforcement agencies will be especially on the lookout for seat belt violators, impaired drivers and speeders as part of the state’s new “More Cops, More Stops” campaign. Kendell Poole, director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office, says authorities will be out in force.
State transportation officials will halt all lane closures during the weekend in anticipation of higher traffic volume. However, workers may be on site in some construction zones.
Tennessee had 1,031 traffic fatalities in 2010. So far this year, 831 people have died in traffic accidents, down from 945 at this time a year ago.
Memphis officials noted a dramatic drop in the number of citations issued in July by Memphis Police Department officers, the month after 4.6 percent pay cuts were approved for MPD officers and most city workers, according to the Commercial Appeal.
Officers issued 18,341 citations, summonses and ordinance violations in July, down from 29,092 in July 2010 and 34,149 in July 2009, according to records from the City Court Clerk’s Office.
A similar decrease was recorded in August, when MPD officers issued 20,599 citations, down from 28,162 in August 2010 and 27,547 in August 2009.
After a brutal budget season this summer, most city employees — including police officers — saw 4.6 percent of their pay get cut. In addition, the City Council is slated to have its third and final vote in October on pension and benefit reforms proposed by Mayor A C Wharton.
The changes — which would affect new employees and current employees with fewer than 10 years of service — include setting a minimum age to receive retirement benefits and using a salary average to determine pension.
MPD Director Toney Armstrong alerted department chiefs by e-mail in August to watch out for a possible work slowdown by officers.
BLUFF CITY, Tenn. (AP) — Bluff City officials are enjoying the extra revenue from speed cameras that have generated more than a million dollars in a little over a year, but the windfall could be short-lived.
Between Jan. 1, 2010, and May 31, 2011, the cameras on U.S. Highway 11E in Piney Flats issued 39,923 citations to drivers, including now Gov. Bill Haslam, who was ticketed last year when he was caught speeding during his campaign.
The tickets netted the city nearly $1.6 million — an amount equal to eight times Bluff City’s total property tax collections from the last fiscal year — during that period, according to the Bristol Herald Courier.
Purchases with the money include a new support truck for the city’s rescue squad and putting a shelter over a caboose in the city park.
But Interim City Manager Judy Dulaney said the two biggest accomplishments are funneling about a fourth of the money directly into the city’s existing operations budget and putting some away for a rainy day.
“These things wouldn’t normally be in a budget,” Dulaney said. “But because of these extra funds, we were able to buy them.”
While the extra money has been beneficial, the cameras have their critics, particularly those who consider the Piney Flats corridor a speed trap.