Saturday, 06 March 2010

In Passing

Follow-up: Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Backpedals; IndyStar plays “Name That Party”

For those who tuned in late, this story from March 3:

A Southern Indiana prosecutor has threatened criminal charges unless stores with DVD rental kiosks remove R-rated movies and other material considered harmful to children.

The rollout of hundreds of automated Redbox-style kiosks
(which, by the way, require a charge/debit card to operate...)
to grocery stores, McDonald’s restaurants, Wal-marts and other retailers in Indiana has met resistance in some communities over the perception that they provide children younger than 17 with easier access to adult-rated movies.

Letters sent to retailers in recent weeks by the office of Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stanley Levco may amount to the largest crackdown yet in Indiana...
Needless to say, there’s a lawyer behind this...
“I’m not on a crusade,” said Paul Black, an Evansville attorney who says he suggested the inquiry to Levco’s office on behalf of a client who operates several video store locations.  “We’re just looking for a level playing field here.”

Black, who declined to identify his client, said Levco’s office sent letters to about a dozen stores in Vanderburgh County...  ...One letter -- addressed to the general manager of a Schnuck’s grocery store and dated Jan. 27 -- cites an Indiana law prohibiting dissemination of matter harmful to minors, a Class D felony...
Felonies: Just can’t avoid ’em!
It says that category might include adult-rated videos in that store’s MovieCube kiosk, a Redbox competitor.

“We suggest that the machine or machines dispensing these materials at your location no longer provide access to videos, movies, games” and other material that are unrated or have ratings of R or even PG, the letter [signed by William Roberts, an investigator in Levco’s office] says. - Jon Murray, Indianapolis Star
A crackdown on Redbox and other DVD kiosks in Evansville is off.

Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stan Levco said Friday that he decided to drop an effort to compel retailers to remove adult-rated movies from the automated kiosks because children might rent them.

Levco said he based his decision on a review of the law, the fact that the kiosks have some procedures to limit children’s access, and the difficulty of convincing a jury, based on negative feedback he received from the community...
Well, good for him.  Too bad he didn’t change his mind before this foolishness attracted national notice.  (Example: Coverage at The Consumerist generated 170-some “stupid Hoosier tricks” comments.  Way to go, Sparky!)

Oh, and notice the one piece of information that’s missing from both Star stories.  Like we don’t deserve to know, or something...  (Although I can’t say I’d be confident that a Republican would do any better.)

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