New Jersey Man Files Lawsuit Over Pokemon Go After A Few Players Politely Knocked On His Door

from the horrible-pain-and-suffering dept

Since Pokemon Go launched last month, we’ve seen an endless stream of players oddly forget that “augmented reality” doesn’t mean the rules of traditional reality no longer apply. Players have spent the last month playing the game in some admittedly “inappropriate” places, while wandering in and out of private property or unsafe areas in a quest to capture virtual monsters. This did, as you might expect, involve a slight learning curve for the nation’s police departments as they slowly figured out what augmented reality was:

Apparently fed up with the phenomenon (or just looking for a payday), a New Jersey man last Friday filed a lawsuit in California federal court against Niantic Labs and Nintendo. The 16-page complaint is quick to play up complaints about Pokemon Go players catching monsters in places like the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and says the game makers actively invited “unwanted incursions” on to private property when they populated reality with augmented reality monsters:

“Niantic has encouraged Pok?mon Go?s millions of players to make unwanted incursions onto the properties of plaintiff and other members of the class?a clear and ongoing invasion of their use and enjoyment of their land from which defendants have profited and continue to profit.”

The lawsuit is seeking class action status, an injunction and damages, disgorgement or other monetary relief. And it’s no wonder; plaintiff Jeffery Marder’s own experience with the game sounds utterly terrifying; involving five whole people politely knocking on his door to ask if they could capture monsters in his yard:

“At least five individuals knocked on plaintiff’s door, informed plaintiff that there was a Pokemon in his backyard, and asked for access to plaintiff’s backyard in order to ‘catch’ the Pokemon. Defendants have shown a flagrant disregard for the foreseeable consequences of populating the real world with virtual Pokemon without seeking the permission of property owners.”

How the plaintiff survived such a harrowing ordeal is not spelled out in the complaint. Marder’s lawyer and the law firm representing him (Jennifer Pafti of Pomerantz) have been busy on the class action front, having lead class actions against everyone from Fitbit to Etsy in recent years. For what it’s worth, the guidelines for the game urge players to “not trespass, or in any manner gain or attempt to gain access to any property or location where you do not have the right or permission to be.”

So while potentially annoying, there’s no actual harm being done by the game manufacturers, who at least make an effort to remind players that the rules of reality still apply in augmented reality games. Either the players are trespassing, harassing others and violating the law here in the real world — or they aren’t. There’s (clearly) no law prohibiting people from being annoying or stupid, and while Mr. Marder’s experience of having five people politely knock on his door certainly must have been traumatizing, it’s a stretch to suggest Niantic and Nintendo are actively encouraging public stupidity.

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Companies: niantic, nintendo

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Comments on “New Jersey Man Files Lawsuit Over Pokemon Go After A Few Players Politely Knocked On His Door”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Stupid lawsuits aside, Niantic needs to provide means to set ‘virtual fences’ where pokemons don’t appear. Some places could be isolated just by using Google Maps info for instance but anybody should be able to petition to fence a private property. It will add a layer of work to Niantic but it’s a need.

I mean, some guy spoofed his GPS and caught a pokemon somewhere in the Everest… Wtf.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Where did I say they should enforce any law? I’m saying they should provide means to fence places to avoid issues. I would find it amusing if people politely asked me to go catch a pokemon in my backyard but not everybody is amused and people should be able to block it somehow.

It seems Niantic has somewhere to report inappropriate places on their site. I wonder if you could exclude your own property from the game via that channel?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Wait, so Niantic brings a bunch of tresspassers to my property… and it’s my responsibility to fix it?”

Well, it would be your responsibility to tell Niantic there’s a problem, and why not make the point of contact a form where you can easily remove your property yourself? Same as if a GPS navigation system kept sending people on to your property – you’d have to tell them there’s a problem.

“Does that seem ridiculously wrong to anyone else?”

Not really. They’re using publicly available map data, and there’s nothing in that data to state “no virtual items here”. Something has to happen for companies to know that, and to hopefully update the map data for the next company using it.

The alternative to that would be for companies wishing to use the data to contact every property owner in the area they wish to cover. Which, while that would kill most such projects, would also cause great annoyance for the property owners. I’d rather be asking Niantic to remove my property from their map after a few kids got lost, than have Niantic and every potential competitor asking permission whenever they want to launch a new product.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Well, it would be your responsibility to tell Niantic there’s a problem, and why not make the point of contact a form where you can easily remove your property yourself? Same as if a GPS navigation system kept sending people on to your property – you’d have to tell them there’s a problem.

It’s not so simple. Let me give you just one example out of many.

There’s a shelter for battered/abused women here. Its location is NOT publicized. There is NO signage. It’s kept in a reasonably secure state consistent with not making it obvious that it’s in a reasonably secure state. Men are NOT permitted on the grounds, because (a) that would require more vetting that than there are resources available and (b) it would be traumatic to many of the residents.

This facility now faces a choice: either (a) tolerate the intrusions that Niantic has organized or (b) risk telling Niantic where this facility is and hope like hell that they won’t leak that data. (Which, given their history of awful privacy/security, is a faint hope at best.)

This is an underfunded facility with very limited resources trying to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society. And now they have to worry about this threat to the safety and well-being of residents, because Niantic doesn’t care who they hurt or how badly.

One example, like I said. Out of many. The right thing for Niantic to do is to shut this down immediately, of course, but they won’t do that: too profitable. So they will continue to inflict pain and suffering on all kinds of people who’ve already had plenty, in order to line their pockets.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

or (c) inform Niantic that the facility is private property and trespassing is prohibited. There’s no reason to tell them why you don’t want trespassers, or anything about the facility beyond it’s location and proof that you own it.

Proving ownership to Niantic would out the organization that owns the facility. Given Niantic’s massive privacy/security blunders to date, why should anyone have any confidence whatsoever that Niantic is capable of keeping such information to itself?

Who will be responsible if they screw that up? Who will explain to women who have ALREADY been threatened, beaten, assaulted, stalked, and harassed that the safe haven they’ve managed to reach has been endangered by a game? Who will fund another equivalent facility in the same area? Who will handle relocating the entire operation?

This isn’t a small thing. This is a life-and-death situation for the residents. And this is far from the only such facility — something that Niantic should have considered if they hadn’t been so busy pre-counting their profits.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

I get that the hypothetical shelter is not a place you want random people walking around or to. But Ironically I would argue a shelter should have higher spawn rates for pokemon anyway.

It is a place for people to stay when the rest of the world is not a safe place. Assuming they have a phone that can play it (and not one that their abuser can track) they can’t exactly walk around outside without fear. Much like children’s hospitals where the residents are not as mobile, it would be nice for everyone that they could still enjoy it without going outside.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I get that the hypothetical shelter is not a place you want random people walking around or to.

It’s not hypothetical.

Assuming they have a phone that can play it (and not one that their abuser can track)

First of all, these are women who just trying to SURVIVE. They have, in many cases, lost everything. They’re trying to build new lives in new places starting from nothing, AND they’re trying to do it without being located by their abusers. Can you even begin to imagine how difficult this is for them? How much it consumes their every waking moment? And you want them to PLAY A GAME?

Secondly, they don’t have smartphones. They’re too vulnerable to attacks and many abusers now know that they can pay for exploits or pay attackers to trace and hack their victims. Part of the intake procedure (a difficult part for many of them) involves surrendering their phone BEFORE they’re brought to the facility. They’re issued new phones that have been purchased with cash and which are paid for monthly in cash.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

If you are talking about a specific shelter or have a place in mind, then its not hypothetical. If we are talking about some potential shelter with not specific one in mind, then yes its a purely hypothetical shelter.

The thing is you have clearly already drew your line in the sand and will not cross it. I respect that choice, but perhaps your solid stance will leave you unable to bend. If every shelter suddenly went completely dark of Pokemon, abusers could just search around for dead zones in the game. Rather than help them drop off the map, it might turn them into beacons shining and saying “there is something different here”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

You must be on NZT …

I like shows where one person is supposedly a ‘genius’ because the only way these shows can make that one person out to be a ‘genius’ is by making everyone else out to be an idiot. The ‘genius’ ends up doing what any normal person with any common sense would do in a similar situation and the show makes everyone else out to not have any of this common sense. It’s still entertaining I suppose, though I laugh at much of it.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Here’s the thing, why would you need to prove? Why not some person review the claim to check if it isn’t an explicit public space (ie: a road or something) and in the absence of readily available evidence just block it? Why not allow people to ask the opposite and prevent their places from being blocked? This second alternative should need further proof of ownership for obvious reasons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Proving ownership to Niantic would out the organization that owns the facility.

…the ownership of land is already public information. Simply go down to your local tax assessor or county recorder’s office to find the name and contact information of the owner of pretty much any piece of property.

Whoever says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

or (c) inform Niantic that the facility is private property and trespassing is prohibited.

And have Niantic reply that there is “insufficient evidence” that this is private property and ignore the request to remove the sites from the game? What do you do then?

You have to show that (c) is a viable option and I know from personal experience that it isn’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Why would telling them what the location is used for qualify as “sufficient evidence?” It provides no additional evidence that the location is actually private. In fact, it actually undermines your argument since shelters of this type are usually semi-available to the public, since people who need them often don’t have the ability to call ahead and arrange an appointment. You have to show that (b) is a viable option as well…

Synergy Waffle (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

While I can see how this situation could potentially cause issues and I see where you’re coming from, I don’t see how Niantic is obligated to do anything about it. They haven’t “organized” anything. They’ve given incentives (Pokemon, Pokestops) for going out into the world but it’s not as if they’re enticing players into one particular area. If an area is restricted, players have an obligation to not enter that area, simple as that.

If someone is worried about people trespassing because of Pokemon, they could post signs marking their property and making it clear that entering would be trespassing – or simply notify the police of any trespassers. Even taking Pokemon out of the equation, there are any number of reasons why a person would choose to walk into a restricted area or onto private property. How would they normally handle such a situation?

Niantic is not hurting anybody. They’re not inflicting pain OR suffering. They have essentially given players incentives for walking around outside; WHERE players walk is up to them. They’ve made a popular game and if people choose to break laws while playing, that is wholly and firmly on them.

Vel the Enigmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

This facility now faces a choice: either (a) tolerate the intrusions that Niantic has organized-

I’m going to have to stop right there to answer this. Saying that Niantic organized these intrusions through the game is insane and has no basis in reality.

The locations of Pokemon are chosen by an algorithm Niantic, not people actively placing them. That’s being misleading to the extreme.

In fact, your entire post is insane. You’re painting Niantic as some evil corporate bastard along with the likes of Oil companies or guys like Comcast. Niantic isn’t even that big of a company, for starters.

Saying they are inflicting pain and suffering cause of something that is running automatically by itself. I have to wonder how twisted your perception of reality really is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Saying they are inflicting pain and suffering cause of something that is running automatically by itself. I have to wonder how twisted your perception of reality really is.

Your complete lack of empathy and understanding for extremely vulnerable people in favor of a damn game demonstrates your utter lack of humanity.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

No, the empathy’s there I think, it’s just that emotions don’t override reality.

What he said is true – nobody at Niantic (or any other software company dealing with map data) is sitting down and marking locations to “organise” anything. The locations for these will be chosen by a software algorithm, and in the case of Pokemon creature locations, randomly. They use data covering the entire world, all of which is publicly available. In order to stop the software generating creatures at a specific point, they need to have a request for that location to be removed.

Your idea of the situation appears to be “Niantic chose my location and won’t remove me because they’re evil profiteers”. The reality of the situation is “Niantic uses all public data unless they’re told there’s a problem”. The fact is, it’s impossible to do anything if you’re depending on them magically knowing the location of a secret facility. Someone has to inform them if they are to have the ability to act.

Your reaction to this is to personally attack the person informing you of reality. Hopefully you can see why this isn’t the best approach. No matter how important the shelter (and I have no doubt it’s vitally important), you won’t change the situation by insulting people.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“There’s a shelter for battered/abused women here. Its location is NOT publicized. There is NO signage. It’s kept in a reasonably secure state consistent with not making it obvious that it’s in a reasonably secure state. Men are NOT permitted on the grounds”

Forgive me for my naivety here as I’m not familiar with the subject. But – if there’s no signage, how do men not know to go there? How does the shelter deal with people who are lost, people who are visiting nearby properties, etc.? what about people whose GPS brings them to the property due to a software error?

I understand the emotional reaction and concern about increased foot traffic. But, I don’t understand how filling in a web form to ask Niatic to remove private property from the game would require telling them why you wish it to be removed or even for them to make it public. They would simply mark their internal maps with an instruction not to spawn in game data there.

“The right thing for Niantic to do is to shut this down immediately, of course, but they won’t do that: too profitable.”

Two questions: 1. given that Niantic’s data is taken from public maps and locations of Pokemon are randomly generated, how exactly would they do that if you don’t inform them that it’s needed? They literally won’t know until you ask. 2. Do you have any evidence that Niantic has refused to remove proerties on the owners’ request for profit motives, or is that just you assuming the worst and making rash accusations?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: NIMBY?

Perhaps if you caught the pokemon in your own back yard first before someone else did then you can prevent other people from trying to sneak in and catch them. Who knows, you can even sell the Pokemon yourself and turn it into a lucrative business. Especially if people are placing rare pokemon in your backyard.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 NIMBY?

You’re misinformed about how the game works. Nobody pays for Pokemon. If one spawns, then it’s whoever successfully catches it first who gets it, nothing is paid.

You can pay to buy items that work within the game to either lure more Pokemon to a specific location or to make it easier to catch them, but none of the creatures are directly traded for any currency. All said items are also available for free, like any free-to-play game.

dopemon players =police on speed dial says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

They shouldn’t have placed these on properties that they don’t own.

Assuming that everyone has a computer and can go “white list ” their properties is a flawed as hell theory.

I’ll have every single one that sets foot on my property arrested.
Ya.. that makes me the bad guy…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why? Maybe to protect themselves? What they are doing could be viewed as inciting people to go places that they are legally barred from going. And under US law, inciting people to go somewhere that they are legally barred from is just as much trespassing as going there is. Also, you may want to consider the doctrine of “attractive nuisance”. At best having Pokemon in places and at times that would require trespass to “capture” them is skirting the law and it isn’t much of a stretch to find them to be actually trespassing themselves. If there’s one thing for sure in what I’ve seen of American law, it’s that where something isn’t much of a stretch to find it illegal, there’s a lawyer somewhere will try to make that stretch and at least a chance that a court will go along with the lawyer…

You may not like this aspect of the law (I, myself, find the “attractive nuisance” doctrine particularly distasteful, basically condoning poor parenting), but that is how it is…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Everest catch

GPS spoofing has been and gone in Pokemon Go.
There were sites that pinged the Niantic servers with hundreds of GPS-spoofed requests per minute and used their results to provide a map of Pokemon hunting sites via third-party websites.
Some cheaters then used these maps in coordination with GPS spoofing to “visit” many locations and catch a lot of Pokemon.
For many people though, these augmented maps made the game playable, because Niantic’s Pokemon tracker was so hopelessly broken that they had to remove it from the software. Unfortunately, Niantic have also put in blocks to prevent the data collection I’ve just described so the game’s current state is “Hey, wander around randomly. Maybe gameplay will happen!” rather than being enriched by collective knowledge of good Pokemon hunting sites.
Pokemon Go is currently in a bit of a limbo state because Niantic have decided to make it basically impossible to locate Pokemon through anything other than random chance…

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I used to play Ingress (the predecessor of Pokemon Go), and it’s very interesting to me that Niantic put a great deal of effort into arranging the game to make incursions like this less likely.

One of those things was that “portals” (what you were seeking in Ingress) were never knowingly placed in areas that were obviously not accessible to the public. And when the inevitable mistake happened, there was a mechanism by which players could flag inappropriate placements. When that happened, the offending portals would get removed. (Eventually — Niantic was notoriously slow about this, but they were also overwhelmed at the popularity of the game, so some slack was cut.)

I wonder how (or if) they messed this up with Pokemon Go.

Synergy Waffle (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m honestly not certain how you’re drawing this conclusion. I don’t see a need for this. Speaking as a player myself, I know that it’s my job to make certain that I don’t walk into traffic or off cliffs, enter restricted areas, trespass, or break other laws in the process of playing the game. I’m not going to break into someone’s house in the middle of the night to catch a Pokemon, nor am I going to swim out to sea or walk into a swamp. If I see a Pokemon in an inaccessible area, I express disappointment and move on. It’s my responsibility to make certain I’m following the rules, not Niantic’s. Why on earth would it be necessary to establish Pokemon-free zones? I think the people who are concerned that Pokemon Go is somehow encouraging people to go places they shouldn’t are gravely overestimating the draw of a possibly rare Pokemon versus the potential consequences of entering said area.

I guess the bottom line for me is that laws are laws, even when playing Pokemon. Play responsibly and be safe out there, people.

Synergy Waffle (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Upon further consideration, I will add a critical caveat: If you’re talking about Pokestops/Gyms rather than Pokemon, then I’m behind you 100%. Essentially, Pokestops and Gyms are immobile landmarks that see a lot of traffic, while Pokemon are randomly placed and ephemeral – they disappear in 10 minutes to half an hour. If a Pokestop or Gym is placed in an inappropriate or publicly-inaccessible place, then Niantic should absolutely have provisions for removing it. The difference here is that ‘Stops and Gyms are player-submitted, Niantic-approved, and accompanied by an image of the location – but even more importantly, they’re permanent.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Do not underestimate human stupidity. I do agree with you that not all areas need to be limited but certain areas should. I remember seeing a crop of pumpkins in the west coast when I was in the US that had no fences, no physical limits and I found it charming. Why can’t the farmer or whoever limit that area so there won’t be people walking around and potentially harming the plants? Must just the gamers playing it have rights?

There is a mechanism to block some places but I wonder how hard it is to actually get it approved.

Synergy Waffle (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

What’s to stop people walking around the field and potentially harming the crops anyway? The farmer still has rights and Niantic is not infringing upon those rights in any way. I think the key point here is that Niantic has given gamers a reason to get out and walk around, but implicit within that is the need for gamers to still be mindful of where they’re walking. If people are trampling the farmer’s crops, that’s a problem – but it’s a problem with the people, not with the game.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is a systemic problem

and it’s not the only one with this game. Here’s some background reading:

Muggers catch them all–as in, all of the victims–with Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go on iOS gets full access to your Google account
Some public places want more Pokemon Go–but the Holocaust Museum does not
Sen. Franken asks Pokemon Go creator: Why all the privacy problems?
Why do Pokemon avoid black neighborhoods?
Pokemon GO Players Are Facing Unexpected, Sometimes Dangerous Situations
Pokemon Go Could Be A Death Sentence For A Black Man
Baltimore Driver Playing Pokemon Go Crashes Into Police Car
Pokemon Go players calling 911 to try get into fire stations and jails
Pokemon Go leads players to California facility housing sex offenders
Pokemon players are trespassing, risking arrest or worse
Indiana sex offender arrested while playing Pokemon Go with teenage boy on courthouse lawn
In Pokemon Go, Lawmakers Fear Unexpected Entrance of the Sexual Predator
Florida man opens fire on two teenagers hunting for Pokemon
Pokemon Go: Residents call police as Rhodes swamped
What can you do when Pokemon Go decides your house is a gym?
Pokemon Go interferes with police search

A lot of these problem could have and SHOULD have been anticipated. No doubt many of them were, but the game’s vendor decided in favor of making money over all other concerns…and gamers, stupid sheep that they are, have gone right along with it.

Whoever says:

Niantic deserves to be sued: doesn't accept complaints

I tried helping some people I know.

There is a gym on their private property. People are ignoring signs that make it clear that this is private property.

They are nuns. Pokemon Go players are trespassing in the grounds of a convent.

Some of the religious statues on the site have been given names from books such as LOTR.

There is construction going on inside their private grounds. People are squeezing through fences to get into the construction sites.

So, we have a site that is both private and dangerous.

I reported it to Niantic and they refused to do anything about it, claiming “insufficient evidence”. While the web for that one uses to report issues has some text boxes, none of them asks for evidence.

How does one provide evidence that somewhere is private property?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Niantic deserves to be sued: doesn't accept complaints

I blame the player not Niantic. The radius that you can interact with things seems to be 40-50 ft. I have never had to go into a person’s house or even lawn and have never disobeyed any laws. If the player is being stupid, send him to jail for the evening. Or worse, transfer all his/her pokemon.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re:

  1. i live out in the country for a reason: i despise living cheek by jowl with all you dickheads… (absolutely with the self-awareness that i am somebody else’s dickhead, arent you glad i volu tarily absented myself from your company?)
    2. technically, we live on a privately owned road, but we let horseback riders, etc travel around our road w/ no hassles… we have it posted, and say ‘no soliciting’, but asshole jehovahs witlesses (sic) still come around, but the dogs keep them at bay…
    3. and, NO, i dont want random assholes bothering me, and if a neighbor needs a cup of sugar, they call up, cause we generally not within walking distance…
    4. so, yes, if you have a bunch of strangers wandering around our private road and properties asking stupid shit about a stupid game, AND they persist, i will either sicc the dogs on them, pull out my shotgun to see if they get the message, or -last resort- call the donut eaters to take out the trash…
    5. i dont dick around on your property for ANY reason, much less a time-wasting idiotic game, respect my property and privacy, too, please…
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Regardless of the reason, having someone knock at the door to request permission to walk across the property is the most reasonable first step. Sure, you might be annoyed but they are literally going through reasonable procedures to get permission.

Pulling out a shotgun and sending animals to attack someone for knocking at the door is not a reasonable response. Its not the fault of any individual if a lot of them will knock, but they should all respect your decision if you want to deny them passage. Can’t we all just treat each other nicely?

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

your reading comprehension is lacking: we live on a PRIVATE road that is posted as such; NO ONE but residents and their guests should be using our road (which goes nowhere but our subdivision), BUT all kinds of people do, for mostly selfish reasons… IN GENERAL, we dont care and arent assholes about it… the one time when dipsticks were riding their noise machines in endless loops around our street at high speeds, a neighbor had a talk with them…
turns out was an entitled kop and his kids who didnt give a shit we had no trespassing signs on our road, apparently he was a real asshole about it to the neighbor, but he didnt come down our road any more, either…
we arent on a through road, we arent on a public road, there is no access to anywhere else that anyone but a utility worker would ever need, so ANYONE walking around a rural area like this IS suspect…
you dont like shotguns, then i suggest you not trespass on your rural neighbors property: good fences make good neighbors…
(and, no, we do not come out on the porch and rack a shell every time somebody approaches our house, but you arent getting it: we live in an area where NOBODY casually walks by en route to someplace else, if they are here, they meant to be here, not some random walk… besides, the dogs are usually enough to give most people pause…)

btr1701 (profile) says:

Me too

The exact same thing happened to me, except the teenagers that banged on my door asking to be let into my backyard to catch their critter did at 01:15 in the morning, waking me up out of a deep sleep. A couple of days later, I found a couple of kids climbing my fence. They didn’t even bother to knock and ask.

Difference between me and this New Jersey guy is that I don’t blame the game makers. I blame the little shits whose parents didn’t raise them well enough to know how to behave better.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: There's actually been discussion about this online.

The rare arrests, robberies and deaths aside, there’s actually been discussion from some more self-aware players who realized they were driven to danger and mischief just to get Jigglypuff. That for pedestrian reasons the writer wouldn’t brave private property or even walking a strange neighborhood at night…but Jigglypuff!

I think it’s something like kids who dare each other to run across the bull-pen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Me too

These kids are asking to get shot. It’s less than funny when someone trespasses into a fenced and locked yard at middle of the night AM and they end up dying playing a stupid game.

I would blame the game maker if they are planting prizes in my backyard, which encourages some enterprising people to break the law and invade my privacy.

JBDragon (profile) says:

I have to say, many of these Pokemon players didn’t seem to learn how to function in society or that just goes all out the window because of a dumb game. I mean really, trespassing, let alone knocking on strangers door just to get one? What’s the end result of getting a Pokemon that makes any of this worth it?

I loaded up the game, took a quick look and thought, this is a game? I haven’t touched it since then. So many other fun games to play. Some people do seem to be out of control over this game. I don’t think a lawsuit over it is the solution. To many jump to lawsuit way to quickly.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Attractive Nuisance

Have Niantic Labs and Nintendo created an attractive nuisance? I don’t, and won’t, play the game, but what the hell were they thinking about when they developed a game where players could place ‘objects’ in other peoples private property, without permission? Why should a homeowner be antagonized for something they likely had nothing to do with?

Maybe Niantic Labs and Nintendo should have limited the placement of their ‘objects’ to publicly accessible places to begin with, or had some type of EULA (I really hate those) that a private property owner had to sign, line by line, before an object could be placed on their own private property, letting them know what the resultant behaviors would be?

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Attractive Nuisance

they developed a game where players could place ‘objects’
> in other peoples private property, without permission

Niantic is not actually placing anything on private property. They’re putting graphics on a map of the city, which is not owned by anyone. There’s not actually any trespass by the game-makers onto private property, nor are any tangible objects being left there.

TimothyAWiseman (profile) says:

Augmented Reality games can easily lead people to be where they should not go. I wrote about this for a law firms blog not long ago:

But, as Karl says here, this is not Niantic’s fault. The players are responsible for knowing where they should and should not go.

Personally, I would find people knocking on my door asking to go into my back yard after Pokemon annoying, but it is not a tort by the person or by the game maker.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I wrote about this for a law firms blog not long ago:
> areas-for-children-only/

“The North Las Vegas Code of Ordinances 12.16.060 reads “No male person over the age of right years shall occupy… any park which shall be reserved and designated for the use of parents and children only.”

Seems like that ordinance has some Equal Protection problems. Singling out just males from exclusion from such areas is problematic. The gov’s justification for the law is likely child safety, however, lone females without children can be just as dangerous to the welfare of the kids in the park as a man– a homeless, schizophrenic woman, for example– yet they aren’t banned.

And eight years old? Really? Like a 10-year-old boy in a children’s park using the swings or the monkey bars is something that needs to be prevented?

Anonymous Coward says:

In Pokemon Go, if you can see a Pokemon displayed in the app then you can capture it from the position you are in by clicking on it as Pokemon only show in the app when you are in possible catch range.
The only way people could be aware of a Pokemon in a location that requires trespassing is if they used a third party Pokemon tracker (prohibited by Pokemon Go TOS) – so wanting to go on someones yard would imply cheat tools used (and Niantic have tried to stop third party location tools from working but when APIs exist to allow game to be played via client / server comms someone will find a way to hack / exploit them).

However, the gym / Pokestop issue in “private” locations is a long standing problem with Niantic. The pokestop / gym positions came from data acquired in their earlier AR game Ingress (basically a proving ground for their technology)
Lot’s of people complained about certain (gym / pokestop equivalent in ingress) locations being inaccessible to the general public ( & potentially dangerous e.g. on military bases) but Niantic argument was that if someone worked there then they could access it therefore it was OK. Ingress was played by less people & those that played were generally more mature / law abiding in behaviour than a publicity generating subset of Pokemon players so Niantic never came to grips with proper handling of these sorts of locations

OldGeezer (profile) says:

Every year my city has a week long celebration called Riverfest. Part of it is a treasure hunt for a hidden medallion for a cash prize. Clues are released daily in cryptic poems. The rules clearly state that it is hidden on public property such as a park or the zoo. Warnings are given about trespassing but every year some idiots ignore that. I agree this lawsuit is pointless but you can’t fix stupid.

Whatever says:

Nice to see a number of the more intelligent people out there handing karl is ass for this insanely stupid post.

Karl, the six people who knocked on the door are the tip of the iceberg, the polite few. How many more have tried to sneak in, or have snuck in, or have been on his private property while he has been away?

The reality is that this game is making people do stupid things, and is encouraging them to trespass and to access places that are not safe to access.

Demeaning the guy filing the lawsuit is pretty cheap, Karl, even for you!

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

No Permissible Space Available

Well, I think the real issue is that, in urban areas, there just isn’t very much land which isn’t presumptively private. In the real world, the government buys land, and sometimes tears down buildings on that land, in order to create public roads, public parks, and other amenities. The average householder simply does not want strange people in his back yard. As for residential streets, when push comes to shove, people go to gated communities, which are just a logical extension of urban apartment buildings with secure stairwells. Niantic’s problem is that a game based on recognized arterial streets would be too dull. Many arterial streets, when they have sidewalks at all, have cheap and nasty sidewalks, the kind of sidewalks where you always have to be alert to avoid being run over by an automobile. Niantic is essentially “stonewalling,” after the fashion of a receiver of stolen goods, very much in the same fashion that AirBnB is doing.

If Niantic were honest, they could simply lock out areas which are zoned to the exclusion of storefront businesses. Similarly, they could restrict zones which were more or less confined to business in “normal business hours,” where it would not be permissible to open a tavern, for example. In such areas, Pokemon Go play could also be restricted to business hours. I imagine the zoning maps are probably available in machine-readable form, Unfortunately for Niantic, that would tend to create “no-go zones” anything up to a mile in extent. “

There used to be, back in the days before cell phones and all, a reprehensible prank which consisted of going into a public men’s bathroom, and writing on the wall: “For a good time, call Jenny X, tel xxx-xxxx.” The result was that Jenny X would start getting a lot of harassing telephone calls from strange men, calling from public telephone booths, who insisted that she was a prostitute. I think this is an essentially analogous case.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

Interesting article along these lines in this morning’s paper. Some Pokemon Go players were responsible for finding a stolen guitar. It had great sentimental value to the owner and she thought she had lost it for good. These kids did the right thing and posted about it on Facebook. The owner had also posted and someone made the connection.

Digi says:

To address a few misconceptions I’ve seen:
– Niantic absolutely does, and HAS removed pokestops. There was recently some hubub, because a bunch of stops, primarily in graveyards and similar, were removed. So stop saying they don’t or won’t. They will. They have provided a form on the website for it. Try it. If success is lacking, try to contact Niantic directly. Yes, a stop at a woman’s shelter might make things complicated, but holy shit there have not been data breaches. No one is going to find out about your request. And if the stop is removed, no data of it would remain in the game.
– On the subject of increased foot traffic by Pokemon hunters by, say, a shelter: a lot of this can cause an increase in pedestrians. This may be one of them. They should in no way cause a problem, especially if it’s clear that the shelter is not a place to enter (even without knowing what it is. I’m guessing it does not resemble a store, for example. So they’d have no reason to try and enter.) I find it hard to imagine, though, that there would be that many more passerbys. Is there a local park people could be walking to? If so, they aren’t going to pay any mind to the unmarked shelter.
– Pokemon are spawned randomly, for the most part. There are items that can make them spawn around you or at pokestops. More than one person can catch a Pokemon. It’s not first-come-first-serve. And there is no trading at this time.
– trespassing is trespassing, that hasn’t changed. Asking Niantic to somehow know the ownership and public accessibility of every location, and the hours thereof, is just insane. Further, you can easily catch Pokemon from outside a restricted location. Asking people to use their brains is not insane. It’s kind of a requirement of human society.
– As mentioned before, I think a lot of people are exaggerating the draw of ‘rare’ Pokemon. It’s not some kind of ‘I’ll never have this opportunity again!!’ Kind of thing. A reasonable person will just walk away from a rare Pokemon in a publicly inaccessible location.
– knocking on someone’s door during daylight hours to ask if they can go in your backyard is a completely reasonable thing to do. Some people are even fine with it. Knocking at night is obviously a dumbass thing to do. Though in most cases, again, nobody likely needs to enter your yard. The range on catching Pokemon is quite high.

Anything else? -_-

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