From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Hannah Montana bill clears committee.

In Price Gouging on 13 March 2009 at 1:30 pm

A bill to prevent inflation of ticket prices for high-profile concerts passed the House Technology Committee this afternoon. The measure is an attempt to protect such consumers as those who paid hundreds of dollars to see a 2007 Hannah Montana concert at Alltel Arena after outside vendors bought up many of the tickets. (It was not discussed whether consumers who pay hundreds of dollars for a Hannah Montana ticket really need protecting.)

The bill, which is sponsored by Sen. Larry Teague, would make it illegal for an outside vendor to advertise a ticket for sale over the Internet before the concert venue does so. According to Deputy Attorney General Jim DePriest, who spoke in favor of the bill, profiteers began selling the Montana tickets — tickets they didn’t actually have — over eBay before Alltel offered them for general sale. This allowed them to gauge whether there was a market for the tickets at prices over Alltel’s face value, which was about $60. When they discovered that there was, they purchased many of the tickets through a sophisticated electronic scheme as soon as Alltel made them available. Many would-be concertgoers were unable to get a ticket at face value and had to pay the profiteers’ exorbitant prices in order to satisfy their children.

The bill does not make it illegal for vendors to evade online security devices meant to prevent mass ticket purchases. Such purchases could still create shortages that would lead to high prices. However, DePriest said the bill’s approach would theoretically discourage ticket speculation, since vendors cannot be sure of a profit if they are unable to use Internet auctions to test the market for higher-priced tickets.

DePriest added in a later interview that it would be difficult to prosecute someone for driving up ticket prices. Whether the crime is advertising tickets for sale or buying them in excess from the official venue, the culprit is someone who is technologically savvy and well-equipped to hide behind the mask of cyberspace.

The bill applies to all live entertainment except sporting events. Sports are explicitly exempted.

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  1. […] Miley!: The Hannah Montana bill clears committee; somewhere, Dwayne Dobbins is smiling. (The Legislative […]

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