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.

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Companies: redbox

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

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48 Comments
Nastybutler77 (profile) says:

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.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

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).

spencermatthewp says:

Re: 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.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: 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..)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

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.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

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.

Sailingmaster (profile) says:

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.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

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”

Brandon says:

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.

Monkeyboy (profile) says:

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.

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