MMOARG dev sues Milwaukee county over Pokemon Go-inspired park ordinance

    
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Remember back in February when Milwaukee County in Wisconsin tried to handle the whole “Pokemon Go players are destroying parks and costing municipalities cash money to repair them” ordeal by requiring game developers, including Niantic, to acquire permits before implementing games within the park?

Agumented reality developer Candy Lab AR (of Texas Rope’ Em fame) plans to fight that ordinance. The studio has filed a lawsuit against the county in the US district court for Eastern Wisconsin, alleging that the ordinance violates and restricts the company’s “right to free speech” via regulation, is “unconstitutionally vague,” and holds companies legally and financially responsible for the actions of players on park lands, the last of which Candy Lab says would be “financially prohibitive.”

The county created the ordinance following destruction to the park by Pokemon Go players last year; it appears to require ARG devs to follow the same rules as geocachers when developing game nodes within the park. That boils down to purchasing a permit and carrying $1,000,000 in liability insurance for damages resulting from its players’ park use.

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Sally Bowls

Dear MOP devs, no biggie, but I am curious about your thoughts on the indent issue. Unlike the (/spit) Livefrye, the current system keeps indenting, which may not be the optimal aesthetics. OTOH, I am not sure but what this is preferable. It provides some visual indication to the combatants that perhaps it is time to, as Jimmy Buffet sang, “Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On”

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Melissa McDonald

I’ve said from the beginning Pokémon Go is a milestone title in the video gaming industry because it establishes the whole world as our game map, but then reveals the limitations, flaws, and pitfalls of doing so.
We realistically now know you cannot just use the entire world map as your play zones and send people there, sometimes, tragically, to their deaths.
Nor can you entice them to trespass to catch a bloody cartoon critter!

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Sally Bowls

This would be horrible if you are a smaller software dev. Can you imagine wanting to do an AR ap? If it were only this one backwater location it would be feasible, but it would be horribly prohibitive to research tens of thousands of locations to see whether some busybody councilman had control issues. What is the next step? Why shouldn’t devs be taxed for any Poki that spawns in their jurisdiction? There are reasons the US Constitution puts interstate commerce under federal control, not jurisdictions.

The law of unintended consequences might result in the developers sending people to paid advertisers like Starbucks and McDonalds. So the public policy is to reroute children (remember the children!) from evil parks into McDonalds?

In a better world, the AR devs would just make all the Pokis spawn in the council building, with extra pokis during scheduled council meetings.

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Crowe

Flip that coin around… Parks only have a limited budget and here developers (small and large) can make apps that promote trooping around and potentially destroying property. If the developers are going to try this crap out, they damn right better be prepared to face the consequences! (meanwhile, poki kids… get off my lawn!)

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Sally Bowls

That may be the way society chooses to go. I would find it a shame to preclude devs were precluded from doing AR. Cause politicians will always find it expedient to pass laws that disadvantage companies outside their jurisdiction.

I also think there is some Luddite bias against new tech. Is it illegal to write a travel book recommending that park without being extorted by the Milwaukee government? What about a blog site? What about if the park is a shortcut for Waze users; is it the Waze company or its users that are at fault?

I guess the solution is just to offshore the apps. If the company with the app was only located in China, then wouldn’t they be effectively immune to whatever laws they want to pass in River City? I.e., Milwaukee can prevail but that will only prevent American companies from doing AR.

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Crowe

And on the other side again, I would find it a shame if devs continue to to do this. If they continue to violate local laws and ordinances then legal action should be taken against them. If they can’t be bothered to find out what those are (and I suspect most don’t care to do any such legwork) then hopefully Google Play or the iTunes store will not carry them for those regions.

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Robert Mann

However, in the case of these laws and ordinances they were written after development, and target people who aren’t actually committing the offense for which the laws are made.

Which are both legal defenses that are critical to everyone. Unless, you know, you want to be able to be held liable for something that somebody does based on you having offhand said “Oh, that’s a nice place with a great view, and there’s this really cool sculpture there!” or something similar… or for new laws passed which you broke twelve years ago and are now suddenly on the hook for.

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Robert Mann

There was no planned event. As such, the people showing up retain the liability. How is a game developer supposed to know that a bunch of people will show up to X park at Y time, and file for a permit plus hire staff in advance? *I mentioned post de facto only because other’s implied that they would be liable thus.*

Now, if we all want to set a fee for virtual space use, and have requirements for it, then that should be a matter to take up with the fed (as it is commerce across state lines, and maybe even international.) They are bound as the regulator for that.

Since we cannot control people, setting this as the standard would make frisbee manufacturers liable if a bunch of people decided to play frisbee at a park at the same time, or anything of similar nature. When the matter is that people on their own decided to do something at a given time, then it must be on those people to act appropriately… anything else sets an unreasonable standard of liability on somebody who is not in control, and didn’t ever intend to create such an event. That’s not cool, and it is destructive to ourselves far more than just dealing with the, ahem, asshats who want to trash things.

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Robert Mann

Eh, the overseas thing is going to come to a head sooner rather than later at this point. It’s a massive problem for a lot of nations, and a headache for their courts, and the costs continue to go up.

That’s the one place where I disagree here… I believe that shouldn’t be the response or defense.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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LOCUSTS ON THE GREEN.gif
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Crow

I just find this so immeasurably sad.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

?

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Crow

We used to go to parks to see nature and walk about in fresh air. We’d, maybe, invite everyone we knew to a cookout. They knew what to bring.

This is a bunch of often out-of-towners who don’t give two shits about that community because they drive back to the city afterwards.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

I see your point.It’s a shame that these ARGs and the local governments can’t get together for a mutually rewarding experience. Compromise for both parties could serve well.My favorite geocaches/Ingress portals were park-based because of the fact you were insulated from the “city” proper. I would be happy to pay a day -use fee to play in a secure enviroment.

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Crow

Ingress had it right. Which is why PoGo is such a shitshow.

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Melissa McDonald

ingress has no Pikachu!

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Crow

I would be happy to pay a day -use fee to play in a secure environment.

I wouldn’t. And imagine the RV campers who suddenly had to pay an additional fee to camp on public grounds?

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

ordinances like these are actually pretty mundane and normal for variety of stuff. i’m not sure what this company thinks they’re going to achieve here.

even if me and my neighbors were to hold a block party on our street we’d need to file for and pay for permits and stuff and possibly even police security if we anticipated (or if it just happened) the party got large enough.

welcome to the real world game devs. you sweet summer children you.

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HNN

That doesn’t make sense, the block party is a physical event that have a specific time. There’s no real pokemons or anything being placed at the park physically, you can’t even prove 100% of the time if someone is really playing or just checking their phone on a website while enjoying the outdoors.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

as seen with pogo these games do increase public space populations and foot traffic dramatically and it’s very obvious what they’re doing.

no one is confused by people playing mobile arg games. it’s abundantly clear what they’re doing and why they’re there.

the only thing that doesn’t make sense is your argument here.

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HNN

It’s true to an extent but again there’s nothing physically placed by the devs at the location.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

the devs are de facto sending people to these locations with the app.

just because it’s with an app doesn’t affect the outcome.

if i invite people to my blockparty on facebook it doesn’t change anything wrt to teh law. neither does putting a virtual pokemon location on the map in your game app.

the idea that that would be fundemantally different in the eyes of the law is naive at best.

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HNN

But that’s the issue, no one is being invited, all it does is mark the locations and it’s up to the users to go there. It’s not like Google maps where the application is directing the users with set instructions to go there

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

and you think that’s fundementally different from my block party scenario?

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HNN

Of course, there’s a difference between an event that needs to be reserved or not. I join pickup soccer/basketball game and dozen of people come out and play but they don’t need to apply for permits or anything

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Crow

but they don’t need to apply for permits or anything

They do. It is just such a normal process that it seems nothing.

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HNN

No it doesn’t, I played pickup soccer and frisbee tag at multiple parks throughout the county and you don’t need a permit.

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starbuck1771

basketball games are played on basketball courts as in a specific place being used what it is meant for. These apps have there markers placed in places like parks, peoples private property, and other random places.

The problem here is they should need authorization from the property owners to place their beacons there or otherwise you end up with this situation. Even public property is owned by someone usually the city, or state but sometimes the federal government.

If I find some random stranger lurking on my property I will shoot first and ask questions later as I have the right to protect my property and loved ones. That is what companies like this forget that other people have rights and they want to bypass those rights for monetary gain.

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HNN

You do know that soccer, frisbee, flag football, etc just need an open field to be played on?

Just or clarify I’m talking about parks not your private property

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Schmidt.Capela

The issue isn’t marking the locations per see, but making them game objectives. In doing that, the game maker is effectively promising rewards to everyone that goes there.

That, IMHO, is the core of their liability, and why the same doesn’t apply to Google Maps or other similar programs. You get no reward from Google for reaching a place with Google Maps running on your phone; but with Pokémon Go and other AR games you get an actual reward from the game for reaching those places.

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Crow

It is a question of who owns the digital space.

And if the companies win here, that means your own paid-off home can still be a beacon of ads.

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styopa

Public space is public space. Are we going to prosecute Michelle Obama for her ‘get outside and exercise’ campaign that (hopefully) ALSO increased park and public facilities foot traffic? Those darn kids are using the monkey bars too much!

While I completely see your point, it’s a little closer to trying to enforce such rules against a flashmob – I don’t see a practical way for law enforcement to interpret intent here. I just see a lot of cost and effort to prosecute something for pretty trivial gain.

Not to mention, ordinances like this skate pretty close to Bills of Attainder, at least until such applications become more commonplace.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

filling out and paying fort permits for public gatherings is normal and mundane af.

last year we had a wedding in a park with no more than 50 people in attendence in a small part of the park and we had to do it.

michelle obama telling people to go outside and excercise is obviously funadmentally and intrinsically different from putting way points on a map in a phone app and telling people to go to them, as as the case with these mobile arg games.

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KumiKaze

A public space does not mean that you can do whatever you want there. As crow mentioned in the first post here, you can be kicked out if you are breaking the rules, or there past when the park closes.

The difference between a flash mob and this, a flash mob is basically just a one time deal. When you start having flash mobs that start occurring at regular intervals, then they will start being cracked down on.

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starbuck1771

Correct even protests require permits to be legal. These companies are playing with fire and in the end they will get burned. They tell people where to go with their app so they set anything that happens in motion and that is how any court will look at it.

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Tobasco da Gama

It really is no different than hosting any other “event” in a public space. The free speech defense here reeks of internet lawyerdom, and I assume the attorneys who filed the suit don’t give a shit if they win or lose because their retainer gets paid either way.

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Crow

I assume the attorneys who filed the suit don’t give a shit if they win or lose because their retainer gets paid either way.

That’s the definition of a rock and a hard place.

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BalsBigBrother

sigh

Companies be respectful of places they may send users of their games, players be respectful of where they go and the people who are there however they may have got there. Why can’t you just all get along with each other it is not that fucking hard, fucking SIGH!

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Robert Mann

Sadly, many people have been trained through our culture that “Somebody else will clean up after me, and I only lose if I’m caught.” The companies… I haven’t seen one that wants things like this mess. The private property and Niantic, well, that does apply there. They need to un-shove their heads on that!

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Crow

When your experiences are uploaded and filtered through your chosen app, you don’t realize that people are sleeping on the other side of that wall.

Say what you will of car-enthusiasts and dirt bikers. It remains that our cultural context of “go until you get stopped” is just what is normal. I’ve come to a point where feeling like being numb to others’ suffering is a needed requirement for every job I interview for.

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Alfredo Garcia

A few thousand years of human history suggests that large groups of people acting out of respect for their fellow humans is incredibly unlikely.

My apologies for adding to the sheer horror of Monday.

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Robert Mann

Yep.

Simply put… if people do something wrong that is on them. If people are tearing up a park, put up some cameras and patrols, fine them for the damages, and life goes on. If they are destroying private property, same deal.

Now, having a use fine for nodes within the park, such as with PGo, is something I find fully acceptable. In which case if the city is trying to make the fine too high, the developer should note that and let the residents sort out such an issue. Additionally, such licenses need to be for a long enough term… because 1 year licenses basically mean that the game will shut down such places after a year if it even bothers (and everyone loses out, the city from the funding, the residents from the use of that funding and not having the game if they want it, etc.)

I disagree with this being a free speech issue. It’s a problem with ‘legal consequences for the actions of a non-ward.’ AKA, it is like saying that you are responsible for the actions of somebody five houses down breaking into your neighbor’s house because you baked that neighbor some cookies and that person knew those cookies were there! It doesn’t make any sense.

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starbuck1771

you have that wrong. There are cases in the u.s. supreme court dealing with hate groups and this type of situation. Basically even if they didn’t actively participate they told the players where to go and that makes them guilty by association. The thing is pokemon go has been a violation in many ways and has even cost people their lives. The smart thing would be to shut it down before things get too far out of hand. Oh wait too late! After all people have been shot for trespassing on private property.

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Robert Mann

Apples and oranges. The hate groups directed people to places where they could attack others with intent to sponsor crime. The AR games are merely putting things out there. *I suppose if there was reasonable suspicion of that intent, or if there’s only the one spot and they made different teams go quite so rabid as some sports fans…*

As for the trespassing, that’s on private property. Again not what I or the lawsuit is addressing. I don’t think there’s anyone out there supporting the AR games on that.

As for the people who did stupid stuff like breaking laws rather than just going about their business with no incentive (aka no pokemon stuff in a backyard, just idiots going off to enter that backyard because it’s convenient,) see my initial point again. That’s all on those people refusing to follow laws. They’d have done that anywhere it was convenient.

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Schmidt.Capela

Actually, it would be more like baking a batch of cookies and promising one for everyone that took a selfie while standing in your neighbor’s lawn; if, say, a hundred people took that offer, would you be responsible for the ruined landscaping?

AR Games that put objectives out there in the real world are basically promising in-game rewards for entering and/or doing tasks in specific places.

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Robert Mann

No, because THAT is directly asking people to trespass. This is people deciding to do things they know are wrong, without that incentive (the public areas issue.) Your comparison is the actual private property issue (which I noted I don’t support the AR games on.)

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Schmidt.Capela

Actually, you were using the private property analogy in the first place when you mentioned breaking and entering. I simply proposed a better analogy for that specific case.

Yeah, this specific case isn’t about the private property issue. But I stand by what I said: the game company is still using in-game rewards to entice players into going to specific real world locations, so IMHO this should be treated in exactly the same way as if the game developer planned an event there with an open invitation. In other words, for places where an authorization to hold an event isn’t required then no authorization should be needed for the game either, and for places where you do need authorization to hold events then the game should be required to secure authorization too.

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Crow

the last of which Candy Lab says would be “financially prohibitive.”

See these tears? Oh wait. I’m not crying.

Maybe expecting unlimited use of public areas was a little too crazy? Cities and towns can ask you to leave a public space when you become disruptive. Do their locations and spawns abide by park hours? or are they encouraging people to enter parks after dark against local laws because even at 3am that spawn is still there?

This will be struck down quick. If a city has the protected right to regulate, say, alcohol sales or retail hours this is bunk.

Public spaces DOES NOT exist so companies can profit from it. This is enshrined in law.