Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Ordinance Concerning “Pokémon Go” Catches the Legal Ire of AR Game Developer

Milwaukee, Wisconsin adopted an ordinance in January that requires virtual, and location-based augmented reality game makers to obtain a permit for their games to operate in Milwaukee County Parks. This was primarily in response to the major popularity of Pokémon Go, but another AR developer, Candy Labs is taking offense to Milwaukee’s permit requirement.


According the Milwaukee County’s new ordinance, augmented reality game developers must submit how often “flora and fauna” will spawn, and the county government must be able to determine how appropriate the application will be for use in Milwaukee County Parks based on personal safety risks, projected intensity of game activities on park land, and which sites in parks would be used for AR gameplay. An additional requirement for AR developers operating games in Milwaukee County Parks is that game activities must only be accessible during park hours.


Candy Labs has reacted to the ordinance with the accusation that the requirement of a permit is a violation of the first amendment protecting free speech. Candy Labs argues that the law is “unconstitutionally vague” because it doesn’t actually give a reliable process as to how an application would be approved or denied.


Additionally Candy Labs argues that AR game companies do not “introduce” a piece of software into any physical location. Instead, a consumer chooses to download software, and past making the software available for download in an app store, a developer has no responsibility as to its physical location. Instead, the consumer is the individual who introduces a piece of software into a location when they carry their mobile device into an area.


In response to criticism, Pokémon Go creator Niantic Labs has disabled the game in several areas, including the Hiroshima Peace Park in Japan and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. As AR games become more commonplace and more popular, the debate concerning where their usage is appropriate, and how legal it is to suspend their activation, will continue.


[via Anime News Network]


Fueled by horror, rainbow-sugar-pixel-rushes, and video games, Brittany is a freelancer who thrives on surrealism and ultraviolence. Follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake and check out her portfolio for more.