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Obama signs Bots Act into law

The Better Online Ticket Sales (Bots) Act, which proscribes the use of ticket bots, has been signed into law by US president Barack Obama.

A statement by the White House’s press secretary reveals the bill, “which prohibits the circumvention of control measures used by Internet ticket sellers to ensure equitable consumer access to tickets for certain events”, was presented to and approved by Obama (pictured), along with 20 other pieces of proposed legislation, on Wednesday (14 December).

Several major ticket agencies, including Ticketfly and Ticketmaster, have previously spoken of their support for the bill. A statement from Ticketmaster reads: “On behalf of artists, venues, teams and especially fans, Ticketmaster is pleased that the Bots Act is now a federal law. Ticketmaster worked closely with legislators to develop the Bots Act, and we believe its passage is a critical step in raising awareness and regulating the unauthorised use of bots.”

Similar legislation had already been introduced in New York, but the passage of the Bots Act extends the ban nationwide. The use of bots has also been criminalised in Ontario, with the UK looking likely to soon follow suit.

“The Bots Act is a critical step in raising awareness and regulating the unauthorised use of bots”

Reached for comment, Adam Webb, of the UK’s FanFair Alliance, tells IQ: “This is welcome news. If the US Bots Act is enforceable we hope it can help guide UK lawmakers as they look to tackle the exact same issues.

“However, one note of caution. This legislation was also supported by companies who run secondary ticketing services, and who benefit directly from mass-scale ticket touting. That in itself highlights why, in the UK, further measures than simply outlawing the misuse of bots will be needed to properly clean up ticket resale – and why we urgently need the British government to enforce existing consumer law and enact recommendations made in Professor Michael Waterson’s review of secondary ticketing.”

A sister bill, the Boss Act (Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing), which aims to increase transparency in both the primary and secondary market, was introduced to Congress in May but yet to find the support to progress any further.

Obama will hand over the reins to president-elect Donald Trump on 20 January 2017. Shortly after his election, American and Latin American industry figures gave IQ their predictions for what Trump’s presidency will mean for the live music business.

 


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Musicians raise concerns over Obamacare repeal

President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act (‘Obamacare’), which introduced a limited form of universal healthcare to the US, have been greeted with concern by a musicians’ advocacy group, which says millions of “newly insured musicians [could] lose their coverage” under Trump.

The Future of Music Coalition (FoMC)’s national organising director, Kevin Erickson, found in 2013 that 53% of musicians lacked private health insurance – close to three times the rate of the general population.

Erickson says: “The Affordable Care Act (ACA), […] despite its imperfections, effectively extended health insurance to millions of Americans, focusing on low-income self-employed individuals and their families, a population that includes countless musicians.

“Will countless newly insured musicians lose their coverage?”

“Provisions forbidding pre-existing conditions from being a factor in eligibility also expanded the pool of the insured.

“Since the ACA’s passage, the Republican-controlled congress has held a seemingly endless series of votes to repeal it. Now, without Obama’s veto standing in the way, its future is unclear. Will countless newly insured musicians lose their coverage?”

At least 20 US musicians and celebrities said they would leave the country should Trump be elected president.

 


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IAVM opposes new overtime legislation

The International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), the Texas-based professional body which counts among its ranks more than 5,000, primarily North American, member venues, has written to the US Congress to oppose new overtime legislation introduced by President Barack Obama.

Under the new legislation, dubbed the Overtime Rule, employers will be compelled to pay anyone earning less than US$47,476 a year time and a half for any hours worked outside their normal contracted hours – an almost 102% increase on the current threshold of $23,660.

The rule, which is due to take effect on 1 December 2016, will also see the salary threshold revised every three years in line with wage growth.

IAVM is instead supporting an amendment to the legislation, the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act, which favours a more gradual increase in the threshold, staggered over three years, and seeks to remove the automatic updates.

Writing to Kurt Schrader, the Oregon congressman who introduced the bill, the organisation criticised the Overtime Rule for “doubl[ing] the salary test of those now eligible for overtime […] without any adjustment to reflect wide regional variations in the cost of living”.

“We believe the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act provides a much more reasonable timeline for organisations to comply with this significant payroll burden”

The full text of the letter (in American English) is below.

Dear Congressman Schrader,

On behalf of more than 5,500 public assembly venues and suppliers, the International Association of Venue Managers extends our support for the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act.

IAVM represents public assembly venues from around the globe. Members include managers and senior executives from auditorium, arenas, convention centers, exhibit halls, stadiums, performing arts centers, university complexes, and amphitheaters. IAVM also counts more than 500 Allied companies among its members. These companies provide products and services used by venue managers.

When the Department of Labor’s final rule, entitled “Defining and Delimiting the Exemptions for Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees,” takes effect December 1, 2016, it will more than double the salary test of those now eligible for overtime from $23,660 to $47,776 without any adjustment to reflect wide regional variations in the cost of living and will permanently index the threshold for inflation.

This will have a dramatic effect on personnel cost by greatly expanding the number of employees eligible for overtime pay. Reclassifying employees from salaried to hourly will limit an employer’s flexibility, bonus and incentive pay while demoralizing many more employees who would now be subjected to punching a time clock. In the long run, this rule will have the unintended consequence of reducing employee benefits and serve as a detriment to future hiring. The DOL ruling adds another increased cost for our membership that will lead to future consolidation in our industry and have a dramatic impact.

For these reasons, we believe the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act provides a much more reasonable timeline for organizations to comply with this significant payroll burden, starting with a salary threshold increase to $35,984 on December 1, 2016, with additional, incremental increases phased in over the next three years. IAVM also supports the provision in the bill that would eliminate the automatic increase to the salary threshold every three years to maintain the threshold at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers. This proposed salary threshold should also be subject to public notice and comment periods consistent with the rulemaking process.

 


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