Economics

DVD Rental Kiosks Are Corrupting the Children Hurting My Business

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Yesterday, I blogged about the president of the U.K.'s National Federation of Fish Fryers, who found new bureaucratic guidelines about the width of chips "totally unfair," and thus demanded that their competitors get screwed, too:

'We will be opposing this as much as we can until they make it a level playing field and start asking McDonald's, KFC and Burger King to change their chip sizes too.'

Today brings a new installment of the convince-government-punish-your-competitors sweepstakes, this one in the U.S. of A. Video rental stores in Indiana (already in trouble thanks to Netflix and On Demand) demanded that the county prosecutor go after Redbox, those neat little $1 video rental kiosks in supermarkets and drugstores, for making R rated movies available without age checks:

"I'm not on a crusade," said Paul Black, an Evansville attorney who says he suggested the inquiry to [the county prosecutor's] office on behalf of a client who operates several video store locations. "We're just looking for a level playing field here."

I particularly like the gentle use of the word "suggested." I know I always ask my lawyer to make "suggestions" for me. In writing. To government officials.

nooooooooo! he's renting "Milk"

The video store lawyer seems to have "suggested" that from now on the kiosks should stock only G movies. Otherwise kids could get ahold of an R- or PG-rated film without their parents' knowledge—something that is currently completely impossible in any other venue, as everyone who was ever an American middle-schooler knows.

Of course, Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Stanley Levco—in a classic political Pavlovian response to the phrase "for the children"—happily obliged. He sent out "letters threatening legal action against retailers providing space" to the perfidious kiosks of sin and temptation, thus soothing the concerns about the well-being of the children and allowing the lawyer for Redbox's competitors to sleep better at night.

As it turns out, This story actually has a happy ending for more people than just one guy with some letterhead paper and a J.D. After some press attention, the county prosecutor announced this morning that he had decided to drop the case:

Levco now says he believes a trial against Redbox and other movie kiosk owners would be a waste of his resources and that a non-guilty verdict would be returned. He said the prosecution of kiosk owners goes against community sentiment.

When you translate that out of Prosecutorial Press Conference-ese and into English, he's saying "My bad. I got suckered. Sorry." Baby steps.

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  1. Those kiosks must be huge!

    Derek Jeter is 6-foot-4, and they tower above him.

  2. Fixed your strikethrough, I see.

  3. For the children is such a bullshit cause.

    1. But, but, think of teh children!

  4. I’ve used redbox before, AFIK, you need a credit-card/debit-card to rent a DVD. how many 10 year olds have their own Visas?

    1. My 17-year old has a debit card and has had one since he was 16. I imagine some kids have them younger. Of course, we can see all of his transactions, for whatever that’s worth.

      1. Do you trust him to watch R-rated movies? Because if not, he’s in danger (yes, I’m perfectly aware that 17 year olds can get into R rated films).

        1. The Art-P.O.G.|, you’ll find your libertarian streak stops at the front door of your house when you have a 17 year old son or daughter.

          1. That’s weird.

          2. Anyone that is worried about what movies or videogames or literature a teenager is being entertained by is paranoid.

          3. +1000

        2. Liberty is for the emancipated. I do let him watch R movies, though.

          1. Operative word “him” but really it isn’t the R movie designation, or banning a book, It’s just that I want them to take life slow.

      2. Yes, but the recently passed Credit Card protection act made it much, much harder for minors and even those under 21 to get credit cards. Have to protect them from credit.

        1. Have to protect those adults who didn’t choose to have mommy and daddy pay for school and rack up lots of debt (be it student loan or credit card). I feel for those kids who are on their own at 18 and actually could have used CCs to build credit and afford stuff.

          1. if you can’t pay cash.

  5. how many kids have unsupervised access to a credit card! because the rental kiosks I’ve seen only take credit/debit cards.

    1. I see a market for DVD selling (not renting) vending machines that accept cash, especially since DVDs are in the ten dollar range now. Also, fuck laws that enforce age restrictions based on the private MPAA rating system.

  6. Jesus, please, can we compete in the marketplace and not for the help of Leviathan?

    1. Uh, no

    2. Have you filed a 27B/6 for the above prayer?

      1. +Awesome

  7. I think this is probably the single most ridiculous effort government can undertake…

    …trying to keep dirty pictures out of the hands of horny guys between the ages of 12 and 18.

    Let’s see, we’ve got 3.5 million years of human evolution one side and on the other, the very answer to the question “Who cares?”, a Vanderburgh County Prosecutor…

    I wonder what other pointless pursuits this joker’s gonna try next–how ’bout trying to stop birds from flying south for the winter?

    1. We were looking at Playboys when me and my friends were six or seven years old. And that way predated the Internet.

      1. If you were that young, you probably didn’t even understand what the purpose of the mag was.

        1. Nah, we were reading it for the articles on masturbation.

      2. Shhhh. That’s an argument for censorship.

      3. We were looking at Playboys when me and my friends were six or seven years old. And that way predated the Internet.

        Nowadays they put you on a list for predating on the internet.

    2. Hah! You think this is stupid? Wait till someone suggests measuring the size of chips french freedom fries!

    3. Guys? Me and my sister got Cinemax and HBO in our room at 11–it was awesome!

      But oh yeah, it’s a libertarian site.

      1. I got all that and scrambled porn!

        And the porn tape sharing cooperative circuit at school.

  8. I guess no one in Indiana has an older brother or sister who can get them porn, beer, etc. etc.

    1. As a former Evansville resident, I paid many an older friend to buy me booze. In your face, prosecutor!

  9. Levco is not only a statist ass, he’s a stupid statist ass. What did he think was going to happen if the stores complied with his requests? Every soccer mom dragging her kids up to the service desk to ask why the $1 DVD machine was gone would be told that the county prosecutor forced them to remove it. Fucking soccer moms over is not a good idea for an elected official.

  10. Katherine, you missed an interesting part of the Redbox story that did hurt their bottom line.
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-po…..kiosks.ars

  11. When I was 13, I used to go to the video store down the street and rent XXX movies. This was when you didn’t need a credit card to open an account – you just filled the application and I lied about my age. For them to pretend their objection stems from concern kids will get R movies is so freaking dishonest I want to bard (then again, any time someone cits childrens safety as their primary concern – it’s axiomatic they’re covering up soemthing much less uhh ‘noble and selfless’

    1. When I was 13, I used to go to the video store down the street and rent XXX movies. This was when you didn’t need a credit card to open an account – you just filled the application and I lied about my age.

      The Pokemon tee-shirt and huffy bike didn’t give you away?

      1. What is the name of the movie with the boy asking the pharmacist for condoms, gum and ice cream with extra sprinkles?

        1. You must’ve been an old-looking 13-year-old.

      1. )?

  12. Someone should also remind this moron that it’s not illegal for people under 17 to rent/be rented to, R rated movies.

    Not that that ever stops anything…

  13. ‘We will be opposing this as much as we can until they make it a level playing field and start asking McDonald’s, KFC and Burger King to change their chip sizes too.’

    When marching in the street to depose a tyrant, the person next to you may be marching because the tyrant didn’t go far enough…

  14. I particularly like the gentle use of the word “suggested.” I know I always ask my lawyer to make “suggestions” for me. In writing. To government officials.

    Yeah, like when the President walked into the offices of Coke and Pepsi, flanked by lawyers “asking” the companies to voluntarily adjust how they market to kids and whether or not they place vending machines in the probaganda mills known as public schools.

    1. “By 2010” I see how well that worked out.

  15. When you translate that out of Prosecutorial Press Conference-ese and into English, he’s saying “My bad. I got suckered. Sorry.” Baby steps.

    And thinking, “Holy s**t. Half the voters in the county are calling my office and busting my chops. I stepped in it bigtime.”

  16. Um, last time I checked you need a CREDIT CARD to rent a movie from a kiosk therefore, for “children” argument is invalid. Its called COMPETITION.

    Jess
    http://www.total-anonymity.us.tc

    1. Clearly you’re not aware of the many kiddie-credit-card-thief gangs springing up all over the place. First it’s renting R rated movies, then they’ll be renting cars to have sex in, then charging internet porn.

      R-rated DVD’s are the marijuana of underaged sex – a gateway to far worse things.

      Please don’t thank me for watching out for your kids, since you clearly don’t care about them. In fact, I think I’ll call Child Protective Services…right now….Hello? Got a live one for ya…real neglectful type…yep, promotes kids stealing credit cards to rent illegal DVD’s…

      1. Yeah, I know I’m responding to pseudo-anon bot. I’m a public “servant” – duh!

      2. Actually, anyone can buy a Visa Gift Card with cash that functions the same as a debit card. So having a credit card is no longer a reliable indicator of adulthood.

        Of course, seeing as how the MPAA ranting system does not have the force of law, it’s hard to see how the prosecutor would have a leg to stand on to begin with.

        1. I actually have TWO legs to stand on, thank you very much. You think we’re all crips or something?

  17. Have they stocked those kiosks with pornos yet, or do I need to hurry up and make an investment?

    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1t0YjvS0lY

      Yeah, they’ve already got that one covered.

  18. Whoo! Some news from my hometown of Evansville. Comforting to see that they’re still batshit.

    Ah the ‘Ville. Where trial products and McDonald’s diners/pizza first enter the world.

  19. Jesus, please, can we compete in the marketplace and not for the help of Leviathan?

    Hahahahahahaha!!1

  20. Based on my admittedly cursory examination of the relevant statutes, and not knowing how the Indiana courts have interpreted them, it seems to me that you can’t convict someone just by showing that they had R-rated DVDs in a kiosk at their store.

    The Indiana law against material harmful to minors is IC 35-49-3-3, which can be found here. The definition of what constitutes ‘harmful to minors’ is in IC 35-49-2-2, which can be found here.

    It appears that, to convict someone, the prosecutor would first have to show that a given DVD had a film on it that met the definition of harmful to minors – which means that the film, taken as a whole, meets the definition. R ratings and other industry evaluations aren’t part of the definition.

    Even if the prosecutor could prove that a DVD had a harmful movie on it, he would still need to prove that the defendant did something to make that specific DVD available to a specific minor, or to show the movie to the minor, unless the defendant has his kiosk within 500 yards of a church or school.

    So having an R-rated DVD in your vending machine isn’t enough to make you guilty.

    1. 500 *feet* of a church or school.

      1. The law is what WE decide it is!

  21. I remember the first time I “snuck” into an R rated movie. I was 13 or so, with three friends of the same age. We went to the dollar theater to see Trading Places. When we asked for tickets, the booth guy asked the manager to come over. The manager looked at us, and his empty theater, and told the guy to sell us tickets.

    Great movie, BTW.

    1. It shocks me what gets an R rating these days. Didn’t Elisabeth Shue drop an f-bomb in Adventures in Babysitting and it still got a PG? I don’t really see how the fake, boring, clothed sex of Hollywood is harmful to minors (except that it shows sex is boring and clothed and in the dark).

      1. IIRC, you need two “fucks” before you get an R rating. Boobs go straight to R, and Trading Places had 3 seconds of boobs.

        1. And they were glorious!

  22. What about cigarette machines? I would say just about every kid old enough to want to see an R rated movie already has unlimited access to hard core porn over the net. The whole things pretty stupid.

  23. I’ve seen the selection on Redboxes. They’re all crap movies, nothing that was ever a hit at the box office. If they’re that much of a threat to a video rental shop, that shop may as well shut down already.

  24. And in related news, the other steel producers just talked to Mr. Mouch because they simply cannot compete with Rearden Metal. Mr. Mouch “suggested” to the government heads that a production cap be put on Hank Rearden’s operations to match the demand of the other steel producers. Sure Rearden Metal is stronger, lighter, and cheaper than regular steel, but it’s for the children…or something.

  25. Reminds me of; the movie you were asking about was “Summer of ’42”. I remember being 16 and having to go to the local truck-stop Mens’ room to buy condoms (for 50 cents each, to give an idea of how long ago) as did every guy I knew, just to avoid having to go through that same sort of scene themselves, lol

    1. Yes, Summer of 42. Jennifer O’neill was a classic beauty. I remember thinking the boy was cute.

  26. I love such excellent business way ! So great !

  27. wow I never thought about that, when I saw those little red boxes pooping up everywhere I just asssumed you need a credit card to rent then, do they allow kids to buy? if so that really pisses me off! worst of all I feel really bad for the small operator who has been battling against franchise and now these klittle machines that dont pay rent…. what can you do.. maybe these machines will be vandalised too mucha ndvthey will ahve to be removed…

  28. dam m,y last comment got picked up as spam hope this one goes through. I really think its sad how these BIG operators can dominate the market like this

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