Arizona’s ‘Taylor Swift Bill,’ Proposing Civil Penalties for Bot-Powered Ticket Purchases, Moves One Step Closer to Becoming Law

taylor swift bill
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taylor swift bill
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A live performance from Taylor Swift. Photo Credit: Raph_PH

Arizona’s “Taylor Swift Bill” (House Bill 2040), which would prohibit the use of bots to purchase live-event tickets in a number of situations, has moved one step closer to becoming law.

The relatively little-discussed legislation passed through Arizona’s Senate (22 votes in favor, five against) on Monday and through the House (48 in favor, 11 against) yesterday. Of course, the measure’s introduction and legislative momentum have followed the well-documented Taylor Swift Eras Tour pre-sale fiasco, which prompted all manner of lawmaker outrage and spurred no shortage of criticism against Live Nation.

According to coverage from local outlets including the Arizona Capitol Times, HB2040 hearings took place earlier this year, when a Live Nation attorney expressed support for the bill and a Vivid Seats representative voiced reservations.

Said reservations – lawmakers have modified the relevant legislative text since its introduction, it bears noting – concerned HB2040’s perceived potential to disrupt the ticket-resale market, besides the existence of a federal law that addresses bot-powered ticket purchases. The latter, aptly entitled the BOTS Act, went into effect in 2016; the FTC handed down the first ticket-scalping charges under the measure in early 2021.

Moreover, Live Nation’s counsel acknowledged the federal-state overlap between the BOTS Act and HB2040, but nevertheless indicated that “‘having this conduct prohibited under state law and empowering the state attorney general to police conduct is something we think is important and necessary,’” the mentioned outlet transcribed.

Digging into the concise legislation itself, the bill proposes adding a bot- and live-event-focused chapter to the Arizona Revised Statutes.

The text defines “bot” as “any automated software program that performs automatic and repetitive tasks and that is designed to impersonate or replicate human activity online” and underscores that the bill would cover public concerts, theater shows, sporting events, exhibitions, and other happenings requiring “payment of an admission fee to attend.”

Running with those points, HB2040 would bar the use of bots (but not password-autofill features or related tools) to “purchase tickets in excess of the posted limit for an online ticket sale”; utilize multiple IP addresses, accounts, or email addresses to bypass these posted limits; or otherwise circumvent a security measure or “an electronic queue, waiting period, presale code or other sales volume limitation system.”

Especially because the bill would seemingly fall short of prohibiting outright the use of bots to purchase tickets, it’s unclear exactly how alleged infractions would be identified and how possible workarounds, including multi-person and -address schemes, would be addressed. Furthermore, the legislation, which is now awaiting the governor’s signature, would apply specifically to any “person” who engages in the above-described ticket-buying practices.

But Arizona’s attorney general would spearhead investigations, HB2040 shows, with civil penalties coming in at up to $10,000 per violation and a maximum of $100,000 total per alleged violator, according to the Arizona Capitol Times.