Court Puts A Stop To CTA's Mature Video Game Ad BanS

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the Entertainment Software Association a preliminary injunction in its suit against the Chicago Transit Authority, temporarily lifting the CTA's ban on mature game advertising.

The ESA filed the lawsuit against the CTA in July of last year, following the Grand Theft Auto IV ad incident that led the authority to modify its existing ad ordinance with the following:"Advertisements marketing or identifying a video or computer game with an ESRB rating of "Mature (M)" or "Adults Only (AO)" are prohibited."

The ESA's lawsuit called the inclusion to the ordinance "a violation of the guarantees of free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution." Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer apparently agrees, saying that "…the advertisements the CTA wishes to ban promote expression that has constitutional value and implicates core First Amendment concerns." She has granted the ESA a preliminary injunction, which means that the CTA cannot enforce the ordinance until the suit is completed.

A preliminary injunction is generally awarded when the judge presiding over a case sees the merits of one side before the case is argued in court. With that in mind, it's doubtful that the CTA will ever be able to enforce the ordinance again.

"This ruling is a win for Chicago's citizens, the video game industry and, above all, the First Amendment," said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the ESA, which represents U.S. computer and video game publishers. "It is our hope that the CTA sees the futility of pursuing this case further. To do so will waste taxpayer money and government resources. Chicago deserves better and we look forward to bringing this matter to an end."