TRENTON –A bill sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Nellie Pou that would prohibit website operators from offering tickets to events using a domain name that is intentionally misleading was passed by the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday.
“We have to put a stop to these predatory websites created to take advantage of consumers looking for tickets to concerts or sporting events,” said Senator Pou (D-Passaic/Bergen). “Unscrupulous website operators create a site that deliberately mimics an authentic website to trick consumers into believing they are on the ‘official’ site of the event, charging them inflated prices. These are not legitimate secondary market websites that clearly state what they are about. Consumers need this protection. This bill has financial teeth and gives the Attorney General the power to pursue additional recourse in the courts.”
The bill, S-2665, would prohibit website operators from intentionally using an Internet domain names that contains the name of the place or entertainment, or a name that is substantially similar. It would also prohibit the website operating from using the name of the event or any name that is substantially similar. That would include the name of the person or entity scheduled to perform or appear at the place of entertainment.
Failure to comply with the law would result in a fine of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offenses. However, violations could also result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured party.
While the Federal Trade Commission in 2014 began requiring these websites to carry disclaimers that the site was not official, often these disclaimers are in text that is hard to find.
The bill passed out of committee by a vote of 5-0, and advances to the full Senate for further consideration.