Why Do Ticketmaster Events Sell Out Instantly?

Ticketmaster is suing RMG Technologies for selling lecherous software that instantly sucks up tickets to everyone’s favorite concerts and sporting events. Groups like RMG are the reason tickets sell out just minutes after going on sale, only to mysteriously reappear at outrageously marked up prices on ticket resale sites like StubHub.

How brokers can jump to the front of the line is described in supplemental documents filed in Ticketmaster v. RMG Technologies, an active Federal District Court case asserting that the defendant’s automated ticket-buying software violated the Ticketmaster Web site’s terms of use. The papers describe a subterranean world of software designed to enter Ticketmaster’s online ticket-purchasing system at will and to scoop up tickets without limits.

The lawsuit was filed in April, after Ticketmaster had tired of what its spokesman, Joseph M. Freeman, called a “cat-and-mouse game” between Ticketmaster’s security systems and automated ticket-purchasing robots, or “bots.”

“We began detecting an increase in attempted online purchases by automated programs about two years ago,” Mr. Freeman said, adding that the company thinks RMG is not the only maker of this type of software.

Kevin McLain, Ticketmaster’s senior director of applications support, estimates that on some days, 80 percent of all ticket requests that arrive at its Web site are generated by bots.

The company looked for purchase anomalies and found four individual brokers who had bought a total of 115,000 tickets online. One of the four, Chris Kovach, agreed to cooperate and led investigators to RMG and its Web site, ticketbrokertools.com, which was open only to its clients. Mr. Kovach also agreed to permit security specialists to make a copy of his PC’s hard drive.

Ticketmaster said it had found evidence that RMG clients, with the help of RMG’s “PurchaseMaster” and related software, submitted millions of automated ticket requests, in Mr. McClain’s estimation. The RMG software disguised the clients’ Internet addresses to create the appearance that their ticket requests had originated in many different places, Mr. McClain said.

What high tech wonder-tools does RMG use to defeat Ticketmaster’s captchas, the annoying jumble of characters used to prove your humanity? Is it Optical Character Recognition? Something even more futuristic, maybe web 3.0-ish? Nah. Cipriano Garibay, president of RMG Technologies, boasts: “We pay guys in India $2 an hour to type the answers.”

A federal judge granted Ticketmaster an injunction against RMG, but nobody knows how many evil ticket-gulping bots exist. Not that we like Ticketmaster and their 30% markups, but next time a concert or playoff game sells out in less than five minutes, we know where to direct our anger.

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(Photo: themikelee)

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