Take Two Sues Chicago Transit Over Pulling of GTA IV Ads

May 5, 2008 -
Reuters is reporting that Grand Theft Auto IV publisher Take Two Interactive is suing the Chicago Transit Authority over the CTA's recent decision to remove ads for the game from its vehicles and facilities.

As reported by GamePolitics, the CTA pulled the ads about a week before GTA IV launched. The move followed a sensationalistic Fox News report which seemed to draw a linkage between GTA and a rash of local shootings. From Reuters:
Take Two accused the authority and its sales agent, Titan Outdoor LLC, of violating a $300,000... ad campaign agreement that included running "Grand Theft Auto 4" poster ads on the sides of buses and transit display spaces throughout the Chicago transit system scheduled for six weeks between April and June.

The suit seeks an order for the transit authority to run the ads as well as monetary damages of at least $300,000.

GP: Congrats to Take Two for standing up for its rights. Let's hope they bring the same kind of legal pressure to bear on Miami-Dade Transit as well. There, GP readers will recall, Jack Thompson pushed the agency into removing ads from Miami bus shelters.

Comments

@zerodash

Because this suit only involves Take Two and the bus line, the effects it may have on the industry as a whole are very small.

No. No. No. No. And again, no.

Put aside the fact that T2 has chosen to cast their claim as one for breach of contract (which makes this particular issue a contractual one). The fact remains that transit authorities do not have the right to refuse some but not all advertising on their systems. Not if the refusal is based on the substance or content or message or viewpoint (call it what you want) of the advertising. To do so is a clear violation of the First Amendment. To argue otherwise puts you in the company of Jack Thompson, First Amendment Expert.

Now, that doesn't mean that the authority cannot prohibit all advertising, if it so chooses. To do so would be a content-nuetral regulation. But it cannot -- I repeat -- canot ban advertising based on the content of the advertising

Mount that horse and ride em all the way T2. In the immortal words of good ol' JBT, "HOO-AH!!!"

And it isn't about the right to be published. There's no such right under the First Amendment. It's about the inabilty of the government to not publish because of anything the proposed publication does or doesn't say. That's what the First Amendment prohibits: government restraint of protected speech.

Wait a second..... did what i say even make sense?

For gods sake, this is just getting stupid, its not funny anymore, this is just spam.
Its like waking up each day after GTA is released and finding 50 emails from Nigeria Bank and Viagra.
This is not funny anymore guys, do they just wait until GTA is released to get out their anger? They (the media) do not quote sources, they do not use non-opinionated views, and this transit system is going by their word?
I mean for god sake, where is all the controversy over more important issues? Like China and Tibet, North Korea, African machette attacks or even other violent stuff like movies?
Its all video games, I hate this man, its just turning into a flame war of who can bad mouth GTA the most, when was the last time someone made a comment about Soldier of Fortune? That game lets you blow peoples heads off and shoot limbs off and see their brain, does GTA? No.
I mean, this is not a violent game, so at the end of the day the only thing bad about it is because it is 'free roaming' and as well all know, the media hate freedom.

@Seven.

CTA's fault. Don't blame Take-Two. I totally agree with their actions.

T2 coughed up 300k just for the advertisement and now the CTA took if off weeks before the end of contract because some sleazy lawyer (or whoever. I forgot) thought that the advertisements contribute to societys ills. Yeah, okay.

It's just a contract breach, really.

@seven

when a company breaches a contract, they suffer penalties. i'm sorry to hear that the mass transit system there isn't what it could be financally, which could be why they took the contract in the first place. T2 had to pay them for the privlage of having the ads there as well as having the ads made in the first place.

it feels simular to me to the various states that passed the various game laws that are now having to pay for the lawyers of the gaming industry. are the penalties/fees being paid by those that pushed those laws? nope, it's being paid by the tax payers. unfortunately the same is probably gonna happen here.

Actually, it looks like the CTA (if I'm right in assuming they're a government-affiliated agency) may have less legal standing to turn down advertising based on content than if they were a private entity. I thought this was only a breach-of-contract issue, but the ruling against the MBTA in Boston a few years ago over pro-marijuana-law-reform ads looks like it might indeed set a precedent for T2 to sue on First Amendment grounds as well.

http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/news.aspx?id=14442

Of course, I'm no lawyer. But if the Reuters article means that T2 is suing for violation of free speech on top of breach of contract, awesome! Good for them.

Oh, uh, heh, I guess this has already been hashed out in more detail above. Good thing no one ever reads down this far!

As many have already stated, this isnt a freedom of speech issue, but one of breach of contract. The CTA knew full well, what it was getting itself in to. If they didnt, to bad for them. They signed on the dotted line, the same as T2. They failed to follow through with their end of the agreement.

When you break a contract, there are certain penalties that take place. I'm sure the CTA figured that would not happen. But, certain individuals didnt want GTA4 being advertised. Those individuals will (hopefully) lose their jobs, for being to stupid.

It looks like an open-and-shut case, unless the CTA can convince a judge that buffalo's really do have wings, and that pigs can indeed fly.

TFA says T2 is suing for contractual AND Free speech rights violations. Clearly CTA either wasn't enforcing their ad regulations when they accepted the GTA ads, or arbitrarily decided they didn't like the GTA ads after political pressure was applied. Either way, they're pretty boned.

I imagine it sucks for Chicago residents who will end up paying for this, but at the same time we can't have government agencies deciding what kind of speech is acceptable.

*Claps claps*

Bout time

Let's see how JT gets out of this one. HOOAH!!!

T2's loss (i.e., their damages) from the pulled advertising goes beyond the loss of the contract's face value. That's peanuts. Monkey-money. Chump change. Their real loss is from the sales of GTAIV they would have had but for the pulling of the ads. And that's not chump change. And CTA brought that upon themeselves (and, by extension, the taxpayers of Illinois). Word is bond. Or, to quote Tony Montana, " All I have in this world in my balls and my word and I don't break them for no one."

And I didn't need T2 to sue for free speech violations (if indeed they have) to tell me that the CTA's action squarely implicates a violation of the First Amendment. That's kinda obvious -- I thought.

Yes, granted that it's stupid of the CTA to do this after signing a contract. Everyone knows that. On one hand they really had this coming. I don't blame T2, I ask them to be more responsible as a company. I don't want my city and state to suffer because funding is being poured into T2 executive salaries, instead of drastically needed renovation projects on the CTA lines.

I love reading GP. I visit the RSS every morning. But it's sad to see that so many are so one-sided and biased. There really is rarely a thought of being critical of T2's (or other vid game company's) actions. The thing I am thankful for however is that the responses to my post were plenty civil, I appreciate that.

I'm guessing that even though Take Two has asked for both monetary damages (effectively, their money back) AND specific performance (run the ads), the court will only grant one of these avenues of relief. Am I right there?

@CommiePuddin:

Off the top o' the head, yes, you are correct. A plaintiff cannot recover both the contract price and specific performance. It's one or the other. However, the plaintiff can recover both so-called consequential damages (e.g., lost profits from lost sales) and specific performance. Those two remedies aren't mutually exclusive.

I agree with Seven, the CTA already has so little funding, they're canceling so many of the lines the run right now.

Also, I live in the city...I have still seen ads up on the kiosks and buses since they claimed to have taken them down.

@CommiePuddin:

This, of course, is a generalization of contract law principles. What really controls is the terms of the contract at issues. If those terms provide that no consequential are recoverable in the event of a breach, then the plaintiff is S.O.L. But, in the absence of a controlling term, then specific performance and consequential damages can usually be had.

This. Is. My. BOOMSTICK!

@ JohnnyG and Seven

Look, it's not T2's fault that CTA decided to try and take "moral high ground" by deciding to pull the GTA 4 advertisements. If you want to complain about how bad the CTA is then complain to the CTA. Rockstar paid them for that advertisement. Instead, someone in the CTA who feels your welfare and commute are LESS IMPORTANT than their personal moral crusade violated the contract, pulled the ads without consulting legal counsel, and now faces a $300k legal battle. CTA has only themselves to blame for this fiasco.

I'd be sending some very pointed emails to my city, county, and state officials about how their moral crusade against violent video games is making me VERY violent since it takes me twice as long to get to work on the public transit system.

Considering what a huge money maker GTA is it seems from my point of view that Take Two is being reasonable. Not to mention the fact if the CTA settles out of court it won't cost them $300k.

The proverbial ball has always been in CTA's court. You can't blame Take Two for how poorly CTA is playing the game.

@ JustChris - agreed, the buses here are terrible, the trains are slightly better.

@ Loudspeaker - again, I'm not putting the fault on T2. I'm asking whether they should be more responsible as a company in their seeking damages over the 300k. I never said the CTA didn't screw up, they obviously did.

@Seven:

Why would seeking damages beyond the price of the contract be corporate irresponsibility if, indeed, a corporate plaintiff has suffered damages beyond the price of the contract? Doesn't the corporation owe a responsibilty to its shareholders to fully recoup whatever losses may have been caused by a breach of contract? If not, then the corporation's shafting its shareholders. If the CTA has damaged T2 (more precisely, T2's shareholders) to the tune of $X, then $X is precisely what they should sue for. That's not some sort of greedy, unfair overeaching that will result in an undeserved windfall to the corporation. That's justice.

@Seven:

And I'm willing to assume that T2's damages do indeed extend beyond the price of the contract. As I argued before, that's the nickel and dime part. T2's more significant damage lies in the profits they would have obtained from sales generated by the advertising had not the advertising been pulled. When CTA decided to first run but then later, in breach of their contract, pull the ads, it was entirely foreseeable that such actions would result in lost profits to T2. Why shouldn't T2 hold the CTA accounatable for that loss? Seems entirely fair to me.

Finally!

Let's hope it works...I have no faith in our Justice system anymore.

@ Seven

So if $300k+ is too much then how much do you think is fair?

I'm not up on economics so I'm not sure what above the 300k is fair. I would hope they'd just get the money for their lost ads back (the 300k fees paid for the ad contract in the first place) and stop there, more than that is coming out of Chicagoan's pockets.

However I read a Kotaku story not too long ago that gave me the impression the CTA was not cooperating and that the suit is a result of the CTA not being willing to settle things amicably.

If that's the case, then have at them. I still don't like the thought of Mass Transit funding being lost to a private interest, though. It benefits no one but T2, and hurts taxpayers.

Not that taxpayers paying for BS government lawsuits in Illinois is uncommon though...

Sigh...

Deserved. T2 paid thousands to get that ad on there, and now, WITHOUT PERMISSION, the ad displayers decide to take them down because one psychotic lawyer decides IT'S HURTING THE CH1LDR3N!!! Please. JT sickens me. He thinks that games hurt kids, and what's really sad is that this one statement is the only thing that keeps him going in his life, when people finally state that games are okay, he'll just explode due to massive pwnage. Hur hur hur.

leave it to T2 to take the stand against all this shit games, gamers, and the industry take

How does this benefit TT?

You do realize that the lawyers that are taking care of this need to be paid, right? You understand that TT needs money to keep producing GTA games, right? You understand that they paid for these ads, and rely on them to do a certain amount of advertising in the city. If they were initially told that the ads would not run, then they could have found another venue for the ads.

The CTA deserves to get hit with the highest fine TT can manage, if only to set a precedent for this bullshit in the future. If you are from chicago, then I suggest you call or write to the people responsible for this fuck-up. TT is protecting their rights. Simply getting the ad money back would not be enough considering this has now cost them more than the initial ad price.

@ Seven

Here's the major flaw in your argument that Take Two is asking too much... According to the gov't of the city of Chicago, which we the people elect to represent us, it was the right thing to do to pull the ads.

So who's responsibility is it to set things right financially?

...The people.

Upset? Take it up with those whom you've put in power.

When you say Take Two is asking too much you're saying you want the law to work only in one direction and the gov't to have partial or full immunity to monetary responsibility for breaking the laws THEY PUT INTO PRACTICE THEMSELVES. Law is not there for convenience it's there as a rights guideline.

Hold the gov't who's supposed to be GOVERNING and making things better for the people responsible. Make them drop these red herrings like video game violence and hold them to the issues at hand.

Want to fix your mass transit system? Do what my state did. Make the governor/mayor commute from one end of the gridlock to the other.

OH HEY LOOK! New roads, improved infrastructure and a mass transit system with REAL results.

Funny how things change when those in power have to go through the same crap the rest of us do 24/7 with minimal complaints.

AWESOME!!!!!! I live in the Chicagoland area. I can't wait to see how this all plays out. Hopefully we'll see those ads on the buses again soon.

@Seven

Well, in a way it helps the industry in general. There's a good chance that after this the other companies will grow some balls and stand up for their rights

Finally. Suing CTA for breach of contract over their ads is perfectly legal for Take-Two. Here I thought the law was applicable to all except thegaming industry.

I'm really torn on this issue. On the one hand I'm glad to see a video game publisher standing up for itself and it's rights (and, by proxy, our rights to play them).

On the other hand, I live in Chicago, and though I don't take the public transit system, the whole system was on the verge of collapse just last year due to a lack of funding, and it took a last minute emergency approval to save it. If Take2 wins this suit, and the system can't take it, you know who ends up paying for the damages on the suit? It ain't the @$$hole who made the decision to pull the ads and his buerocratic clowns, it's people like me paying it out in our taxes and an inevitable tax increase.

Fortunately, the suit is only for $300,000 or we'd be REALLY screwed.

I don't know much about law stuff, but for the most part aren't there clauses to remove advertisement for specific reasons? I know TV stations have pulled "questionable ads" before without any repercussion.

Also, like I said in my first post. From when the original story of CTA removing the ads was posted until now, I've continued to see GTA ads all around the city on kiosks and buses. I don't know if they removed a few and left a few, but I do know I still see ads for them up.
 
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