The Pokemon Go trespassing lawsuit’s proposed settlement terms are absurdly reasonable

    
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Remember back in 2016 when Pokemon Go news was bonkers? We covered multiple lawsuits revolving around the game, including one lodged against Nintendo and Niantic by one Jeffrey Marder of New Jersey, who accused the companies of enticing people to trespass on his property and profiting from that act. That suit was consolidated into a single class-action with several other suits, including those from Michigan and Florida. At the time, Niantic maintained that trespass laws do not cover virtual intrusions, that it is the trespassers who have broken laws, and that a decision against the company could also impact non-games like real estate apps. Legal experts, however, suggested that trespass laws vary from state to state and that neither side had a slam-dunk case.

At the tail end of 2018, it appeared that the case would be settled, and as of this month, we finally understand the terms of that settlement. The proposed settlement requires Niantic to make an effort to avoid placing pokestops and targets on private property (especially homes) going forward; allow property owners to submit a form to request the removal of virtual bits placed within 40m of homes; resolve most petitions within two weeks; warn raid groups over 10 people to behave; and work with public parks’ rules and operational hours. The class action plaintiffs also sought $1000 each and attorneys’ fees.

(All of which probably should have been things Niantic thought about before launching a game like this, especially given that it had already launched a game like this. Why did anybody need to go to court for this?)

This lawsuit was far from the only one that plagued Pokemon Go and the MMOARG genre over the last few years; Niantic settled a lawsuit over its botched Chicago event for $1.5M last year, and in 2017 Milwaukee County in Wisconsin settled a lawsuit over its parks ordinance, which required video game developers like Niantic to obtain park permits before using those parks as MMOARG destinations.

Source: Scribd via Variety via GIbiz. Thanks, Schmidt!
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Mewmew
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Mewmew

They did already have forms to allow people to remove their personal property from the game. I guess it’s the 40 meters from their property thing that’s new, plus the time limit on how quickly Niantic needs to take care of it. For all I know they took care of it at least that quickly in the past when people actually did file to be removed, but there was no actual law or agreement about them having to.

Considering that Pokemon Go isn’t quite the phenomenon that it used to be, I’m guessing this is going to be something that people look to for guidelines for future games of this type.

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Schmidt.Capela

It also includes a stipulation that Niantic will pre-screen a large part of the POI (Pokéstop/Gym) submissions and refuse those that are in private homes, even if there is no complaint. I take it to mean residential neighborhoods will now rarely, if ever, see any such POI added.

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Schmidt.Capela

It would be interesting if someone started maintaining an industry-wide database of where online AR games similar to Pokémon Go are allowed to place elements and objectives and where they aren’t, which would then be referenced by companies such as Niantic, so people would have a single place to go when they want to either restrict when those games can be played in their property or else remove their property entirely from such games.

Google seems to be the natural company for that, since it already provides the map used by most such games, though some people wouldn’t want to give it even more power over AR games than it already has.

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Armsbend

Time heals wounds and I’m sure now that the owners likely have zero people invading their property now and they just want the matter settled and their reasonable expenses paid for. They of course didn’t know there would be a steep drop off of property invaders so the lawsuit was completely justified.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

It wasn’t just about Pokemon Go though, it’s also about future games of the same type. Now there will be guidelines to follow when these new games come along.