ESA Sues Chicago Transit Authority Over Videogame Ads

ESA Sues Chicago Transit Authority Over Videogame Ads

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The Entertainment Software Association has filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority, saying its ban on ads for M-rated videogames is a violation of the First Amendment.

Trouble began in April of 2008 when the CTA pulled Grand Theft Auto IV ads from its buses and buildings following a Fox News report that attempted to connect the advertisements to a weekend of particularly bad crime in the city. GTA publisher Take-Two sued in response, eventually forcing the return of the ads; presumably to avoid similar trouble in the future, the CTA enacted new regulations in January that forbids advertisements of M (Mature) and AO (Adult Only) rated videogames.

Bad move, as it turns out: Instead of defusing the issue, the CTA has just made things worse. Because the restrictions apply only to videogames, the ESA claims the game industry is being unfairly targeted and has thus filed a lawsuit against the Transit Authority. "The CTA's ordinance constitutes a clear violation of the constitutional rights of the entertainment software industry," ESA Chief Executive Michael Gallagher said in a statement.

"Courts across the United States, including those in the CTA's own backyard, have ruled consistently that video games are entitled to the same First Amendment protections as other forms of entertainment," he continued. "The CTA appears unwilling to recognize this established fact, and has shown a remarkable ignorance of the dynamism, creativity and expressive nature of computer and video games."

Under the terms of the CTA regulations, the lawsuit notes, advertising for the South Park videogame, which was rated M for "comic mischief" and "strong language," would be banned, but ads for the R-rated South Park movie and TV-MA rated South Park television show would be allowed. Furthermore, the ESA said, the restrictions not only violate the First Amendment but are also unnecessary because the ESRB's Advertising Review Council already places strict controls on videogame advertisements.

The ESA is asking the court to declare the that Transit Authority's videogame ordinance "is void and of no force and effect," and is also seeking legal fees and other costs. A full copy of the ESA's lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority is available in PDF format. (via GamePolitics)

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That's really retarded that they will advertise R-rated movies but not M-rated games.

It just shows that video games haven't been fully accepted into the world as movies, T.V., comic books, etc.

One day we'll have a new scapegoat that idiots will blame for violence but for now video games are the force corrupting today's youth.

It's pretty obvious that the ESA is going to win; I mean, how can the CTA justify advertising R-Rated movies, some of which are waaay more violent and profane than any video game ever could be, and not M-Rated games.

I just hope Fox News doesn't get their hands on this story; they'd probably just link it to street crime all over again.

Gunner_Guardian:
One day we'll have a new scapegoat that idiots will blame for violence but for now video games are the force corrupting today's youth.

I nominate Twitter :)

Here's a thought... Take away age ratings, and the problem disappears.

Gunner_Guardian:
One day we'll have a new scapegoat that idiots will blame for violence but for now video games are the force corrupting today's youth.

Why can't we pin the trouble on Nasa or something. I mean when you ask a pre schooler what they wanna be when they grow up (Ignoring the Superheroes.) You usally get Astronauts. Those same kids grow up and do drive-bys. Where did that come from? I'll tell ya where. From Astronauts.

Why do I got a bad feeling that if I sent this joke to Fox they would actually air it.

Khell_Sennet:
Here's a thought... Take away age ratings, and the problem disappears.

No, the problem gets out of hand because there is no regulation. When you have ratings the entire weight of the problem rests on the parental responsibility, which is good because that should be in effect to begin with.

Khell_Sennet:
Here's a thought... Take away age ratings, and the problem disappears.

Very bad idea.

HardRockSamurai:
It's pretty obvious that the ESA is going to win; I mean, how can the CTA justify advertising R-Rated movies, some of which are waaay more violent and profane than any video game ever could be, and not M-Rated games.

True, and it's not like they will stop advertising R-rated movies. They would loose way to many money bu doing this.

Can't the CTA just refuse to advertise M-Rated and AO-Rated games on it's own, unofficially? Why did they need to legislate it?

It's about time they fight back.

Malygris:

Under the terms of the CTA regulations, the lawsuit notes, advertising for the South Park videogame, which was rated M for "comic mischief" and "strong language," would be banned, but ads for the R-rated South Park movie and TV-MA rated South Park television show would be allowed.

Quite right too that that *bbbbzt*ing *bbbbzt* *bbbbzt* *bbbbzt* of a *bbbbzt* *bbbbzt* movie would be *bbbbzt* allowed to *bbbbzt* show adverts, as my mother *bbbbzt* V-chip allows it through. The *bbbbzt* *bbbbzt* *bbbbzt*.

Gunner_Guardian:
One day we'll have a new scapegoat that idiots will blame for violence but for now video games are the force corrupting today's youth.

We will, we saw the same kind of stuff about comic books for a long time, and eventually the Comics Code Authority and other regulatory efforts died.

But when video games are in the clear, something new will doubtlessly replace them.

Khell_Sennet:
Here's a thought... Take away age ratings, and the problem disappears.

No, then the government steps in and institutes their own rating system.

HobbesMkii:
Can't the CTA just refuse to advertise M-Rated and AO-Rated games on it's own, unofficially? Why did they need to legislate it?

If the ESA can show an unofficial policy exists (through lack of M rated games advertising) they can sue over it.

What is this, Lawsuits With Obvious Outcomes Week?

The ESA is totally going to win this one, for reasons stated above.

TheTygerfire:

Khell_Sennet:
Here's a thought... Take away age ratings, and the problem disappears.

No, the problem gets out of hand because there is no regulation. When you have ratings the entire weight of the problem rests on the parental responsibility, which is good because that should be in effect to begin with.

But when the ratings boards like the ESRB are as corrupt and self-serving as they are, it turns a public service into a political agenda. Better to leave judgment in the hands of the consumer than to train consumers to be unthinking sheeple who let others tell them how to think.

And to Asinann's comment, I welcome government regulation. While I don't think the government to be any less corrupt than individuals, on a whole, they seem a better option than faceless religious zealots and prude elderly housebitches trying to push their morals on everyone.

I'm laughing at how to says fox tried to link the advertisements to a bad week of crime. Still think that the masses of people who don't like violent video games take into account what actually goes on in the game, just that it's rated M and should be demonized like a witch.

HobbesMkii:
Can't the CTA just refuse to advertise M-Rated and AO-Rated games on it's own, unofficially? Why did they need to legislate it?

It's a public institution, and everything needs approval from public officials in some form. So, a private taxi company could arbitrarily refuse to carry ads from a given source, but a public utility like the Transit Authority can't discriminate in its advertising if it allows any.

Remember the good old days when dungeons and dragons was made illegal in some states as it promoted the occult?
These things pass

TheTygerfire:

Khell_Sennet:
Here's a thought... Take away age ratings, and the problem disappears.

No, the problem gets out of hand because there is no regulation. When you have ratings the entire weight of the problem rests on the parental responsibility, which is good because that should be in effect to begin with.

There is no evidence to my knowledge that supports at a statistically significant level that there are any long term negative effects from playing video games of ANY variety.

Since the Atari violent Crimes in the US has been on a steady decline as games get more graphic and more violent overall. They may be unrelated but as it stands nationally the evidence just isn't there to say that games == bad.

There is no reason to have these labelings because parents shouldn't trust others to make judgements for them. THEY should be there with their kids and if they can't be we have much larger problems than video games.

There is no excuse to not be with your children as much as you can. If you can't because of society then society needs reworking if you can't because of personal choice then any problems with your child lie on your shoulders.

Might I also add that all the major complaints against games were made against literacy during the dark ages? It was looked at as an excuse to not live, it created mentally unstable people, and it took away from your much required time with god. Good to see we overcame that nonsense.

http://www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/impact/myths.html

asinann:

Khell_Sennet:
Here's a thought... Take away age ratings, and the problem disappears.

No, then the government steps in and institutes their own rating system.

No, because that would be unconstitutional as a content-based speech restriction.

kawligia:

asinann:

Khell_Sennet:
Here's a thought... Take away age ratings, and the problem disappears.

No, then the government steps in and institutes their own rating system.

No, because that would be unconstitutional as a content-based speech restriction.

No, because it wouldn't actually censor or eliminate anything from it, just rate the games.
The authority would most likely be granted to the FCC to deal with it (the way the do TV shows) And they would be able to fine any retailer massive amounts of money for violating the ratings system, just like the FCC does with television programs.

Nothing would be disallowed, but the government does have precedent on being able to tell you what you can see. Up until now it's only been unconstitutional because they weren't trying to rate games, they were trying to legislate censorship (banning AO and M rated games, making it illegal to sell M rated games in certain states) and because it wasn't the FCC trying to do it.
The FCC could this very instant shut down ALL online gaming with M rated games on some cockamamie excuse like "children might play it" or "we got a complaint, and to us 1 complaint= 1 million people that would have complained if the cared enough."

They would then fine the hosts and the ISP's and the whole thing would be legal.

For a moment there, I thought the European Space Agency had gone insane.

There is an episode of Penn & Teller's Bullsh*t on Showtime that covers this very topic in depth, and why the clinical link between video game violence and real life violence is bunk.

It goes back to the whole 'moral stepping stool' politicians use. They want to appeal to older demograpics who don't care for violent video games. They try and ban them, the video game companies sue and the courts strike down the ban and the laws are reversed. Even though their attempt to ban the games failed, they look 'good' to the older demographics for having attempted to remove those 'nasty' video games. I'm willing to bet 90% of politicians who target video games don't actually have anything against them, they're just interested in the politcial clout from trying to trounce them.

asinann:

kawligia:

asinann:

Khell_Sennet:
Here's a thought... Take away age ratings, and the problem disappears.

No, then the government steps in and institutes their own rating system.

No, because that would be unconstitutional as a content-based speech restriction.

No, because it wouldn't actually censor or eliminate anything from it, just rate the games.
The authority would most likely be granted to the FCC to deal with it (the way the do TV shows) And they would be able to fine any retailer massive amounts of money for violating the ratings system, just like the FCC does with television programs.

Nothing would be disallowed, but the government does have precedent on being able to tell you what you can see. Up until now it's only been unconstitutional because they weren't trying to rate games, they were trying to legislate censorship (banning AO and M rated games, making it illegal to sell M rated games in certain states) and because it wasn't the FCC trying to do it.
The FCC could this very instant shut down ALL online gaming with M rated games on some cockamamie excuse like "children might play it" or "we got a complaint, and to us 1 complaint= 1 million people that would have complained if the cared enough."

They would then fine the hosts and the ISP's and the whole thing would be legal.

The FCC could not up and ban just anything. When the FCC was created, there were only a small number of TV channels and they were all broadcast channels. They were allowed to restrict some content that was harmful to minors because there were a limited number of available frequencies and people could not control what entered their homes. The Supreme Court allowed it to function as a very limited exception to general 1st Amendment principles.

None of that stuff is true today. But the FCC still operates because its been around for a while and nobody in Congress wants to give up power that they already have and the Supreme Court already say they could have some limited powers. They will not be able to expand into new areas though. The Supreme Court is very protective of the 1st Amendment. If you look at the jurisprudence, many of the justices have suggested that the purposes served by the FCC are no longer valid. They did not say that it had to go away, but I seriously doubt they would allow it to have more power. And it does not have any power over online games. It doesn't even have power over all the TV channels. Showtime and HBO can do whatever they want.

There is a reason why private ratings boards showed up. It's not because they were afraid of potential government censorship. That's just a justification they use whenever they come under fire. They started them because some people WANTED censorship and the government couldn't provide it for them.

It doesn't matter that the government would only be "rating" speech. There is an inherent restriction whenever speech is classified because people are still being told what is and isn't appropriate for them. Congress can ban speech which is "obscene" but in the constitutional sense, "obscene" has a much more narrow meaning than most people give it. Speech is only "obscene" under the constitutional definition when it passes a very strict test. Basically, porn is "obscene" but not much else. And even that's not a blank check for banning everything. Congress has to allow adults alternate ways for adults to obtain the speech. A lot of laws regulating "indecent speech that's harmful to minors" have been struck down because it prevented adults from obtaining it.

As they say, out of the frying pan and into the fire...

this will go the same way the laws that try and limit the sale of m rated games to 18+ people they will lose and have to pay money

They think games are worse than R rated movies? oh those poor stupid babyboomers

rated R movies are allowed.. games not... Fuck, I 'd love to be the judge ruling on this. I'd slap around the Chicago Transit Authority so hard they'd never come back.

 

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