ESA Sues For Rights To Advertise Games On Chicago Buses

Illustration for article titled ESA Sues For Rights To Advertise Games On Chicago Buses

The Entertainment Software Association today filed suit against the Chicago Transit Authority over the right to advertise certain video games on Chicago's buses and subways.

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The suit challenges the transit authority's prohibition against advertising computer and video games rated Mature or Adults Only. There is no such prohibition against advertising R-rated movies, mature TV shows or music.

The association says the ban is a violation of the guarantees of free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

"The CTA's ordinance constitutes a clear violation of the constitutional rights of the entertainment software industry," said Michael D. Gallagher, CEO of the association. "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. 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. The ESA will not sit idly by when the creative freedoms of our industry are threatened."

The ordinance was enacted in January, hitting just months after the authority reached a settlement with Rockstar Games that allowed the company to advertise Grand Theft Auto IV on their billboards for six weeks, as part of a settlement.

A similar ordinance was overturned in Denver in 2007.

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The association's suit contends that the new Chicago ordinance unconstitutionally "restricts speech in a public forum that is otherwise open to all speakers without a compelling interest for doing so." and that the ordinance "impermissible discriminates on the basis of viewpoint and ignores less restrictive means of achieving the supposed ends of the ordinance."

We've contacted the Chicago Transit Authority for comment and will update if and when they respond.

DISCUSSION

ngamesnick-old
ngamesnick

Ugh! What is up with people, and not understanding free speech? I can understand some random commenters claiming that everything is a violation of free speech, and I can understand random kids who got banned from gaming networks whining, but the ESA? Really?

Free speech does not mean you can do or say whatever you want, on someone else's private property! The people who run the ads have the right to deny service to whoever they want, for whatever reason they want! Free speech doesn't even come into this issue! The ad space is privately owned property which they are renting! They're denied service, because the owner of the advertising space doesn't approve of their ads, and it's not taking away any constitutional rights! Should I complain about my freedom of speech being taken away from me, since I can't paste an advertisement for my own stuff over the boards? Of course not. They're arguing that it's my RIGHT to be able to paste over this billboard, though. If they were denied by a service which they would have to pay for, it's not taking away any aspect of their freedom of speech. They would not have legally been able to put anything there without paying for it, and getting the permission of the owner of the billboards.

Their argument is essentially this: "I -WANT- MY AD TO RUN. I DON'T CARE THAT I'M NOT PAYING FOR THE BILLBOARD, BECAUSE YOU DENIED ME SERVICE! I SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO SAY WHATEVER I WANT THERE, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT I'M ENTERING INTO A CONTRACT WITH THE OWNER OF THIS PRIVATE ESTABLISHMENT! I SHOULDN'T EVEN HAVE TO DEAL WITH YOU, ACTUALLY! I SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO PUT ANYTHING I WANT ONTO THAT BILLBOARD, EVEN THOUGH I DON'T OWN IT."

At MOST, they could complain if they paid for the advertising slots, and didn't get them. That's reasonable, but I highly doubt that it happened.