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US reps review pro-ticket transparency Boss Act

The Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing bill would regulate both the primary and secondary markets on a federal level

By Jon Chapple on 25 May 2016

Bruce Springsteen, Roskilde Festival 2012, Bill Ebbesen, Boss Act

The bill is named for Bruce 'The Boss' Springsteen

The Boss Act, a proposed piece of legislation to better regulate the US event ticketing market, received a positive reception when it went before the US House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee yesterday.

The bill (an acronym for Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing), inspired by prominent anti-touting activist Bruce ‘The Boss’ Springsteen, is sponsored by New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell. Its provisions, according to Pascrell’s website, include:

  • Requiring the Federal Trade Commission to prescribe rules regarding primary sale, distribution and pricing of tickets, including transparency of how many tickets will be offered for sale and how much the fees will be before buying
  • Prohibiting primary sellers from restricting where consumers can resell their tickets
  • Requiring that secondary market companies verify that a ticket reseller is in possession of a ticket, or has entered into a binding contract to purchase a ticket, before offering it for sale
  • Prohibiting the use of software bots (which are already illegal in a number of American states) to circumvent security measures or access control systems
  • Requiring that online resale marketplaces not make any representation of affiliation or endorsement with a venue, team, or artist without express written consent, and requiring disclosure on a secondary seller’s website that it is a secondary sale

“The [Federal Trade] Commission supports the goal of [the Boss Act], said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez, “which would require more transparency in ticket sales.” She also recommended further action on the bill, as well as the sister Bots (Better Online Ticket Sales) Act, which specifically targets ticket bots.

“The Boss Act is necessary would bring transparency and a set of parameters to a multi-billion-dollar industry running amok”

National Consumers League vice-president John Breyault was also supportive. The Boss Act, he said, “offers comprehensive solutions that, collectively, will significantly improve fans’ ticket buying experiences. By requiring greater transparency in the primary ticketing market, prohibiting egregious broker practices like undisclosed speculative ticketing,and limiting the ability of connected insiders to surreptitiously divert tickets to the secondary market, the Boss Act would lead to beneficial reforms in the ticketing marketplace.”

Pascrell introduced the first version of the bill in 2009 after discovering TicketsNow, a subsidiary of Ticketmaster, had oversold tickets for Springsteen concerts in New Jersey and Washington, DC.

“The ticket industry is full of opaque practices that game the consumer, the casual fan,” he said yesterday. “That’s why the Boss Act is necessary. It would bring transparency and a set of parameters to a multi-billion-dollar industry running amok.”

Last month New York attorney-general Eric Schneiderman, another prominent political critic of ticketing companies, fined several bot-using brokers $2.7 million and announced the launch of a bill that would make using ticket-buying software a criminal offence.