The Milwaukee lawsuit sparked by Pokemon Go is finally over.
Back in February, Milwaukee County in Wisconsin issued an ordinance requiring video game developers like Niantic to obtain park permits before using those parks as MMOARG destinations, as Pokemon Go does. That was because the influx of visitors Niantic effectively sent to the parks caused thousands of dollars in damage, and taxpayers had had enough. The ordinance required ARG devs to follow the same rules as geocachers when developing game nodes within the park: purchase a permit and carry $1,000,000 in liability insurance for damages resulting from its players’ park use.
But a few months later, developer Candy Lab AR filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging that the ordinance violated and restricted the company’s “right to free speech” via regulation, that it was “unconstitutionally vague,” and that it held companies legally and financially responsible for the actions of players on park lands, the last of which Candy Lab said would be “financially prohibitive.”
In the ensuing lawsuit, the County argued that Candy Lab’s game didn’t constitute free speech, as it was an illegal form of gambling with “no storylines, no characters, no plot and no dialogue,” but the judge nevertheless granted an injunction blocking enforcement of the ordinance while the parties sparred. Last summer, the federal judge appeared to side with Candy Lab on the subject of constitutionality, and now, Wisconsin’s Channel3000 reports that the County will settle the suit. The local government has apparently agreed to pay Candy Labs’ attorney fees ($83,000) and to not enforce the ordinance, meaning that local taxpayers will continue footing the bill for either protection from or clean-up after the games that unwittingly direct players to overwhelm state-owned public property.