Indiana Prosecutor Threatens Redbox With Criminal Charges If It Doesn't Remove R-Rated Movies

from the let-me-introduce-you-to-the-constitution dept

Brandon alerts us to the news that an Indiana prosecutor is threatening to bring criminal charges against Redbox execs if they don't remove R-rated videos from the kiosks. The claim, of course, is that this makes it easier for those under 17 to access those movies. Of course, that doesn't explain what's actually criminal about it. Indiana is among the handful of states that should know this -- seeing as politicians there tried to pass a law stopping retailers from selling "mature" video games to kids -- but every law of that nature has been thrown out. The current movie rating system is not, in fact, enforced by the government as that would be a restriction on free speech. Instead, it's a voluntary agreement within the movie industry. In other words, there is no legal issue with these kiosks.

And, of course, the true story behind this threat is found early on in the article. It has nothing to do with "protecting the children" at all. Instead, this is a bunch of independent video rental stores trying to shut down the competition:
"I'm not on a crusade," said Paul Black, an Evansville attorney who says he suggested the inquiry to Levco's office on behalf of a client who operates several video store locations. "We're just looking for a level playing field here."
That's not leveling the playing field. It's trying to block competition -- and doing so with bogus charges of criminal behavior.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 1:56pm

    Doesn't Redbox require a credit card? So if parents don't want their kids renting R-rated movies, maybe they shouldn't be giving them credit cards? Just a thought.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Wow, that's sad on every conceivable level.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    Politics

    When I first started reading this I thought for sure it was a district attorney or AG trying to make a name for themselves before an election year.

    It either had to be that or someone trying to stifle competition. Turns out it was the latter, but don't be surprised if some DA or AG somewhere else decides to jump on this bandwagon too.

     

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  4.  
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    Richard Corsale (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Politics

    I'm waiting to see who contributes to his campaign ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    Alan Gerow (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:19pm

    If you need to be 18 to get a credit card ... RedBox requires a credit card ... thus shouldn't it be safe for them to assume that people getting movies through them are at least 18?

    If someone is under 18 and using someone else's credit card, then that's a cause of fraud and the person using the card is responsible. If a parent trusts their under 18 year old child with their credit card, would that parent also be by proxy approving their child to watch a Rated R movies ... which is restricted, not banned, meaning it's the parent's discretion (versus NC-17 or Rated X).

     

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  6.  
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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Re:

    Yeah, I noticed that too. If kids are using credit cards to rent R-rated movies from kiosks, they're committing credit card fraud to do it.

     

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  7.  
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    Danny (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:23pm

    Re: Politics

    This sounds like the MO of AG Cuomo in NY. Bet he is on it within the week.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    Re: Re: Politics

    Nobody, the guys leaving office at the end of this term...

     

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  9.  
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    Danny (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:24pm

    Real world will take care of this...

    It may not be against the law, but Walmart and McDonalds are likely to force Redbox to take the R rated videos out of their stores. For them it will be a business decision.

     

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  10.  
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    jimbob, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:34pm

    level playing field...

    if they are wanting to compete... then rent movies for a buck for one night... done.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:46pm

    Exactly. Although, to really compete, they'd have to give people a reason to buy (from them). Why would I go out of my way to visit the video store when I can just grab a movie from Redbox on my way in or out of the grocery store? Lower price, 2 nights for $1, rental rewards where i can earn free rentals, and rent-to-buy program, free popcorn... something.

     

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  12.  
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    NUCLEAR intellectual property, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:47pm

    it is leveling playng field

    you put all your competition in the base ball field then drop a thermo nuclear device on them , thus achieving a level playing field and ill bet the pitchers mound isn't a mound no more

     

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  13.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:49pm

    Re:

    It doesn't have to be a credit card. A bank/atm card (with visa/mastercard, et al) logo on it will work as well.

    How many kids have bank cards?

     

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  14.  
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    spencermatthewp, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re:

    It's been a while since I checked into this, but I believe that a debit card with a Visa/Master Card logo has the same rules as a credit card. Meaning that a bank should not be issuing these types of cards to people under 18.

    Like I said, it's been a while since I looked into this. It may not be the case.

     

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  15.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 2:58pm

    Re: it is leveling playng field

    Thanks for that insightful post.

     

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  16.  
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    cam, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Changes in business models

    Redbox is awesome, it and video on demand like Netflix and Hulu are the way of the future. Video rental stores must be hurting for them to pull this, they will probably need to figure out a way to adapt.... or die?!?!?

     

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  17.  
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    David Coppernoll, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Redbox

    The person renting from redbox must use a credit card. To have a credit card in IN you must be 18. Prossacute the Parents who let the under 18 use there card to rent.

     

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  18.  
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    Jason, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 3:10pm

    walmart etc....

    Walmart sells rated R movies so I can't see a business justification to remove them. They only sensor the music cd's. Which I do find this to be odd but thats how they operate. Please correct me if I'm mistaken. :-)

     

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  19.  
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    Sychodelix (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Real world will take care of this...

    Walmart already sells R rated movies in their electronic section, so I don't see them stopping Redbox from doing it. McDonalds could be another story, but I really doubt it too.

     

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  20.  
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    Chargone (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 3:58pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    dunno about the states, but in NZ you can get a visa debit card at... 15 i think? might be 16. need to be 18 for a credit card.

    that said, the visa debit card comes with a nice warning saying 'this card may not be accepted by some shops or websites, as unlike a credit card it does not prove that one is 18 or over' ... or something to that effect.

    not that i've had anything reject it yet... on the other hand, i don't buy anything that would require such a check. (i was a little worried about my CoH account, which i thought cared that one was an adult or required parental consent, but apparently it doesn't care. mind you, i did Create it with a credit card, so maybe that only checks once..)

     

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  21.  
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    Sailingmaster (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 4:12pm

    No surprise...

    I grew up in a small town in Indiana, this is just one of an endless set of examples of how politics work in Indiana.
    Think of every single bad stereotype of small town backroom good-ol'-boy politics that's been portrayed in movies and television for the last 60 years. That's the standard for every municipality in Indiana outside Indianapolis or the region around Gary. Several years ago, while under oath in court, the mayor of my hometown admitted on the stand that he'd taken bribes when he was sheriff of the county. And yes, he was reelected mayor the following year.

     

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  22.  
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    Esahc (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 4:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I had one at 16 (in California) but that was many years ago.

    Great, no I feel old :-p

     

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  23.  
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    michaelk42 (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 5:35pm

    Sigh.

    Apparently they don't worry about anyone locally calling bullshit on their little anti-competitive scam as long as it's "FOR THE CHILDREN."

    The sad thing is, this being Indiana, few people probably will.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 5:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Politics

    To run for what?

     

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  25.  
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    Jason E Bailey, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 5:55pm

    Re:

    I believe a Debit Card will work, and there is no age limit on those. In fact my 14 year old daughter has one; we share a checking account and I got her her own card so that I could teach her about credit and monitor what she's buying.

     

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  26.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 6:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Actually I had a credit card at 15??-16 and that was 25+ years back. It was for emergencies.

     

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  27.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 6:58pm

    Re: it is leveling playng field

    "you put all your competition in the base ball field then drop a thermo nuclear device on them"

    Go ACTA!!!!!

    Okay, I was going to go off on one of my rants about how "ACTA is going to have the" opposite effect and create criminals out of people who are changing their viewing habits and new business models are evolving blah blah blah ...

    But I wont tonite ... I am going to post a response to the article called "Think outside the box and follow the money" instead.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 7:29pm

    Think outside the box and follow the money

    It always occurs to me to follow the money...

    It always occurs to me to see things from a larger perspective...

    It always occurs to me to look at the timing of mass protests and ask why did they happen...

    It always occurs to me to ask who is pulling this persons strings...

    Most of the time I tell people "think outside the box" and dont acknowledge that I follow the money.

    So lets give you people a follow the money, think outside the box, and who is behind this lesson.

    In the article the line "Redbox and its retail partners have run into similar pressure in Indiana and other states." stands out in a major way. When you are trying to get an organization-group-individual to do what you want, you dont put pressure on them from multiple directions. Its what the FBI does when chasing a criminal. Its what any lawyer would do in a law suit.

    The question is - Which company(s) has a beef with redbox and the way they do business?

    Out of the kindness of his heart this lawyer went out of his way. ""I'm not on a crusade," said Paul Black, an Evansville attorney who says he suggested the inquiry to Levco's office on behalf of a client who operates several video store locations."

    The Questions are - What is the name of the video rental chain of his client?

    - Do his phone records and e-mails show any contact with the companies involved with pressuring redbox to accept the video delay?

    This next line is just so wrong. "We're just looking for a level playing field here."

    Then go out and start a new company. Call it pink box ... the company slogan can be "insert you disk in the slot below"

     

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  29.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 8:11pm

    Mike could you change one line in my post

    "you dont put pressure on them from multiple directions"

    to

    "you put pressure on them from multiple directions"

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 8:30pm

    I swear, not everyone from Indiana is this stupid, really.

     

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  31.  
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    Kyle, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 8:58pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes they do, BUT you can go to Walgreens and get a Pre-paid debit card that doesn't require any information. you can even go and get a Visa Gift card to do the same thing.

    No problems as you pay cash for both and no records on who's using it .

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    jjmsan (profile), Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 10:14pm

    Re:

    That's because they are "from" Indiana, which implies they are no longer "in" Indiana.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 3rd, 2010 @ 10:58pm

    His client operates several video store locations?

    I haven't set foot in a brick and mortar video store in literally ten years.

    Is the lawyers client Blockbuster?

    Has the lawyers client aimed his "Level playing field" at Wal Mart yet? They peddle R rated movies as well...

     

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  34.  
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    inc, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 6:50am

    Re: Real world will take care of this...

    For McDonald's I would imagine that redbox would be placing movies that appeal to kids anyway. What little kid is gonna beg mom or dad for blade runner, matrix, or the hangover? They may have more movies that are PG-13 like avatar, spider-man, transformers, or iron man.

     

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  35.  
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    Brandon, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 9:37am

    Re: Real world will take care of this...

    According to the article, they actually have gotten at least on McDonalds in another part of Indiana to agree to remove R-rated movies from its Redbox.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Brandon, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 9:41am

    Brick and mortar stores

    I would think it could be just as easy, if not easier, for kids to rent r-rated movies at brick and mortar stores. Their employees usually don't care about enforcing the r-rating rule. Just having a person rent the movie to you doesn't take away the ease of a minor renting an r-rated movie.

    And from my 7 and a half years watching people while working at a movie theater, I'd say there are probably a lot more parents out there that take their kids to r-rated movies or rent r-rated movies for their kids than there are kids trying to sneak an r-rated rental.

     

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  37.  
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    tweak, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re:

    Hopefully the converse is also true. While I'm not "from" Indiana, I currently reside there, and I like to think that I am also not that stupid.
    (Fortunately, I work in Ohio, so I get a little taste of "not quite as stupid" 5 days a week)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    But prepaid cards won't work with Redbox. I've tried.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Mark, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 12:21pm

    Redbox

    Redbox movie= $1
    Video rental store= $5
    What a great idea redbox gets my vote

     

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  40.  
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    Book 'Em Dano!, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 5:20pm

    Good Grief! Does the Vanderburgh County Indiana have any real crimes to prosecute?

     

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  41.  
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    Billy, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 6:24am

    Re: Re:

    No thats completely false. I have a credit card, and I have since I was 14, and can use it any time I want. Not once have I been charged with credit card fraud. Study up on the law buddy!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 6:26am

    Re: Post 40

    No we in Vanderburgh county are actually decently respectable, maybe some places are just full of crime but not here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 6:28am

    Re:

    AHHHHHHH RedBox doesnt REQUIRE a credit card a user can also use a debit card!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 6:32am

    Re: Re:

    Thats the dumbest thing Ive ever heard!!!!!!!!!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    Monkeyboy (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    UPDATE

    An update to this story was just released saying the prosecutor won't file any criminal charges.

    http://blogs.indystar.com/crime/2010/03/s_indiana_prose_1.html

    Here's part of the reason behind why and should come as no surprise to anyone here.

    Mackey [an attorney for Redbox and MovieCube] said he provided a legal position paper to Levco [the Evansville prosecutor], and the prosecutor called him this morning to say he wouldn't pursue any charges. "It would be unconstitutional to bring a criminal case," Mackey said, since the ratings -- set by the Motion Picture Association of America -- aren't in the law. Instead, a prosecutor would have to review each movie to consider whether it violated what he considered to be the community's standards, and he would need to prove a child successfully rented the movie, Mackey said.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Book 'Em Dano!, Mar 6th, 2010 @ 5:11pm

    Finally, someone in Vanderbugh County has come to their senses.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    anonymous, Jul 27th, 2010 @ 11:50am

    debit card

    i'm 16, i have my own debitcard and can rent r-rated movies without my parents knowing, so that just disproves the whole consent thing

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 9th, 2010 @ 6:18am

    Follow the money, then you'll find the rat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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