Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced their collaboration to promote the BOTS Act (Better On-line Ticket Sales Act of 2016) yesterday, in a joint press conference. The bill, which mirrors one introduced in February of last year by House Republicans, proposes a new federal law that would fine ticket resellers who use bots to bypass online security measures. These bots buy hundreds, sometimes thousands of tickets to concerts and events in a matter of milliseconds, often making it impossible to get a ticket without paying their exorbitant markups.
Bot users would be fined $16,000 per ticket purchased, a number much steeper than many preexisting state laws — California currently exacts a $2,500 total fine (and possible six months imprisonment) for using a bot, while the updated New York state law that Miranda fought for this June carries a $1,000 total fine and up to a year in prison.
the bill would fine bot-users $16,000 per ticket
The bill would also create an investigative task force responsible for sniffing out bot users on popular ticket resale sites.
Schumer announced the bill in March, but Miranda is joining him now in an effort to spur some momentum. The issue has been a fairly personal one for Miranda: ticket prices for his hit musical Hamilton soared to outrageous heights during his final weeks as the show's lead actor. The New York Times reported that scalpers made $15.5 million off of his last 100 performances alone, and the going price for an orchestra seat at his last show was about $15,000. In June, he wrote an impassioned op-ed for The Times and in the recent press conference he explained his dedication to the issue saying, "My concern is that our show is about the founding of our country and if bots are buying up all the tickets and charging this insane secondary market price, most of the country can't see it."
The New York state law that Miranda advocated for added criminal penalties onto the preexisting civil fines associated with ticket bots. The proposed federal law will seek to put resellers out of business with a crushing fine, but won't carry the additional weight of jail time. In a statement yesterday Schumer said, "By eliminating 'bots' and slapping hackers with a hefty fine, we can better ensure those who want to attend shows in the future will not have to pay outrageous, unfair prices."