Lin-Manuel Miranda Doesn’t Want Us to Have to Fight Robots for Hamilton Tickets

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If you told me that the first article I’d see when I woke up today would be Lin-Manuel Miranda writing for the New York Times about the importance of fighting against robots in the quest to see Hamilton, I … well, I wouldn’t have believed you. But that is what happened. The op-ed contains this glorious sentence: “I want you to be there when the curtain goes up. You shouldn’t have to fight robots just to see something you love.”

Are there legions of cold, uncaring machines standing in the way of audiences and Hamilton right now? Has Hugh Jackman brought his Real Steel role to reality and used his boxing robot to reclaim his title as Broadway’s most beloved hunk, inviting the unsuspecting Miranda to meet him in the ring? Uh, no, that’s just a fanfic I’m working on. In actuality, Miranda is talking about the preponderance of ticket-buying bots, who can buy up Hamilton tickets at speeds faster than your average human can hope to match. Then, those bots betray us all by giving those tickets to re-sale ticketing sites, who mark them up at prices that your average human also cannot hope to match.

Turns out, the usage of these bots is actually illegal under New York law, but many re-sale ticket sites seem like they’re willing to take the risk. As Miranda writes, “the markup on resale tickets is so lucrative, earning brokers millions of dollars per year, that they happily risk prosecution and treat civil penalties as the cost of business.”

There’s a new bill getting introduced by Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, which will crack down further on the illegal use of bots. For the moment, brokers can receive fines, but that doesn’t seem to dissuade them, since they’re already cleaning up. The new bill could introduce the potential for criminal penalties, even imprisonment, for brokers who repeatedly use bots in flagrant disregard of the law.

So, really, we’re not fighting against the bots here. We’re fighting against rich brokers who don’t care whether or not we get Hamilton tickets so long as they get a big pay-out. That’s a battle I can get behind.

(via NY Times, image via Tumblr)

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Author
Maddy Myers
Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).