Take-Two sues Chicago Transit Authority

Publisher takes the city's public-transportation division to court over "outrageous decision" to yank $300,000 Grand Theft Auto IV ad campaign.

348 Comments

After the Chicago Transit Authority pulled an ad campaign for Grand Theft Auto IV last month, a representative of the city dismissed the notion that Take-Two Interactive could sue the CTA for an abridgment of its First Amendment rights.

"The CTA has the right to regulate and establish guidelines for advertising on its properties," the authority representative told GameSpot at the time.

However, today GameSpot confirmed a Reuters report that Take-Two has filed suit against the CTA, alleging not only a violation of its free-speech rights, but also a contractual agreement.

"Although we prefer to resolve these issues amicably," a Take-Two spokesperson said in a statement, "the CTA has refused to discuss with us its outrageous decision to pull advertising for the critically acclaimed game Grand Theft Auto IV while running ads for other forms of popular entertainment with similar content, including mature-themed TV shows and R-rated movies."

The suit was filed against the CTA as well as Titan Outdoor LLC, its external advertising agent. Take-Two is asking for an order that the CTA run the ads again, and pay at least $300,000 in damages. The six-week campaign of 385 ads was barely underway when the CTA decided to yank the advertising spots.

A CTA representative said at the time that the decision to pull the campaign was made not because of complaints over the GTA IV ads, but due to complaints over a series of ads that Take-Two ran in 2004 for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. That campaign was worth $90,000 to the CTA, and due to the fact that the ads had run their course by the time it became an issue, they didn't need to be pulled.

According to a CTA representative, the Grand Theft Auto IV campaign cost Take-Two Interactive $316,000, but the city's take of that would have been at most $205,400 after Titan had taken its cut. After the ads were pulled, the CTA said that Take-Two would not be charged for the aborted campaign.

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Pork_Lord

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Agreed. Free speech issue, stick it to them Take Two!

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delcidanddarth

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This is a free speech issue. A government entity effectively banned TT from advertising their product, which is no more violent or risque than anything else the CTA advertises. This could also be a conflict of interest, if someone on the CTA board has stock in EA, that would be a totally bad move.

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StaticPlayer

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This is why they should have had a clause in there stating if the ads should be pulled for no reason, then not only should take two not be charged (which was what happened), but also the city would have to pay Rockstar a fine for pulling out of the contract. I have no problem with the city pulling the ads. But to pull the ads right before it hits, Rockstar could have used that money elsewhere. Imagine if you where to pay me a mil for you doing a job. and you save up or put aside money; money that you could have used for other things; and suddenly I just say no deal and walk away. Sure you get to keep your money, but you're economic lost is in what you could have done with that money if you knew that you weren't going to spend it.

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jay_rock_

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Wow Its always something....

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X-RS

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if i ay 300 thou and they dont do what there supposed to do for 300 thou, then you send niko bellic after them. you dont want that.

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Dark_Eagle80

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First off...the CTA is already hurting, and this just doesn't help the cause.

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siefier25

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skyline7284, First of all, I don't think T2 is trying to get into the news. Its idiots that aren't making people responsible for their actions, that are doing this. A few months ago in Seattle a gang fight broke out during a high school event...and people were held accountable. Had that happened around the release of GTAIV, I'm sure the game ads would of been blamed for its cause. People as a whole are just stupid. When will people come to their senses that "OMGZ TEHR IS EVOLS PEEPS IN DA WORLD?!?! OH NOES!!!!!!1". morons

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Gamezero224

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ha ha ha gta fans from chicago are having a hard time.

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terdoo

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If they paid $300,000 for the ads they have the right to keep them there.

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bibbo

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The Transit Authority had no problem taking Take-Two's ad money. A pretty dumb-ass move by CTA.

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zeldafan1234

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take-two has every right to advertise they paid for it. The city has no rights they shouldn't have been allowed to in the first place.

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KevlarGorilla

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To me, this is more of a contract issue than a free-speech issue. You gotta be taking stupid pills if you think you can just pull out of a contract with no consequences to follow.

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Sunrie

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I agree, good for Take-Two

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theGrynch

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Good for you, Take-Two.

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prioritymail

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Finally, GTA is not the one being sued

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Tremblay343

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This isn't me speaking as a gamer, but as someone who looked at the facts, and Take-Two is in the right.

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Pete5506

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I would sue too if they would have done that

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glitchgeeman

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I personally don't see this as a free-speech issue but more of a contract issue. If someone pays you to put up advertizements, you better go through with your end of the bargain. Besides, here in California, I've seen tons of the ads on buses and I personally don't see any problem at all. It's not like the ads themselves are violent.

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IKKF

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I think it was wrong for the GTA ads to be pulled from the buses in Chicago, because quite frankly, when I see a picture of Niko Bellic on an advertisement, I don't feel the urge to kill anyone. It's just stupid. Go Take Two!

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Sho-x

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alcheng, you need to shut the hell up. This was a business transaction and the ad campaign was paid for. You are right...CTA had the right to decline but DIDN'T; they ran the campaign. Some big wig probably put pressure on them and they decided to pull the campaign. You can't possibly tell me that you haven't seen much worse campaigns being posted on billboards and in subways. CTA blatantly violated their agreement!

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jrhawk42

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T2 probably wanted the ad pulled the whole time, it generates much more advertisement than actual advertising, and it's free... sorta.

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harrassee

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I think Plague27 has it right. This is not a free speech issue, but Take 2 does have the right to enforce its rights under a contract. If CTA didn't want to run the ads, it shouldn't have entered into the contract. FYI, I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I am a transactional lawyer.

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alcheng

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If CTA wants to remove the ad, it's their decision do so and Take-Two has absolutely "NO" right to butt in. I think in the first place it was Take-Two's big big mistake to even consider posting ads of GTA IV without consider the risks. In terms of "Free Speech", we must think about a big big keyword, and that's "RESPONSIBILITY", that's a huge oversight for Take-Two.

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1valiantknight

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Well heres to hoping take 2 wins, keep your fingers crossed. They absolutely should win, but that doesn't mean they will, I'll just keep on hoping people are not as completely moronic as I know they are. If I were based in Chicago I would send the CTA a message. . .

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Acurev

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Lord__Darkstorn has a good point. A game this huge probably doesn't need all that much advertising...

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delcidanddarth

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@mysterylobster If that were the case, where is the checks and balances to ensure the board of directors (who are government appointed) just isn't using the "ad space" for their private companies? The use of revenue-generating ad space can be likened to contracting business out for public works. It would be incredibly illegal to specifically bar one company from bidding for a contract without reason (or without a logical reason). In this case, the CTA is discriminating against TT in favor of other ads. If the CTA doesn't have a good reason, then they are in deep doo doo. And I don't think "public outcry" from their last game, which is just a handful of very loud protestors, counts. Otherwise, companies like TT are now at the mercy of a vociferous minority. Is that what we want?

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Destroyeron13

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If they already started the ads and then pulled them I'd say the CTA is at fault.

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Lord__Darkstorn

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If anything, removing the ads was a good idea. The people who wanted to get GTA IV got it, and there are less 'anti-videogame crusaders' seeing advertisements all around. Putting building-size ads for GTA IV in the city center is just fanning the flames, not adding sales.

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spunkybob123

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Its not that it was removed, it’s more the principle of the matter. I dont know about this free speech stuff im in Australia but I dont think that them being removed will make much diff in the sale of GTA4

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Plague27

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If the CTA wants to pull an ad, that is their right. The trouble begins when you have a contract. If they want to dismiss an ad, it should be based on content and reviewed BEFORE a contract is signed. Freedom of speech does not matter here. This is not an instance of someone's message being blocked by an external entity. This is an instance of the government re-evaluating a contract after the fact and getting sued. Plus one for Take-Two.

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lamprey263

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FoxNews probably got the CTA to pull the ads because FoxNews had foreknowledge of the in-game media content, and in case you didn't notice, Weazel media in GTA IV is satirical portrayal of FoxNews and Fox media content like "24" (portrayed as "72", my favorite).

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diesil

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take 2 is tired of being attacked im glad they are fighting back

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Adam_the_Nerd

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If the money was paid back I don't see the huge deal. It's being blown a little out of proportion here. I love GTA, and freedom of speech, but I mean, come on. Don't get me wrong; it is good to see them taking charge!

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JRooftop

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This does nto make me happy. YEs the CTA was w rong for what they did-- but I haven't even really seen the effect. The bus stoips I use still have GTA posters up. Anyways, the CTA is near broke, and the should have taken whatever money they can get. I don't want a fare hike again.

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Talldude80

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i was wondering what Take-Two was going to do. I remember reading about CTA pulling the ads,and i thought "are they allowed to just do that?" I hope Take-two wins a bunch of money, and teach those guys a lesson. Think about what ads you put up first, dont just react to some complaints and pull something. Especially since the GTA ads arent even graphic or anything. What a joke!

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PdPstyle

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GTA needs advertisements why????

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Ultima-Chocochu

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If there was a contract, they shouldn't have pulled it, cause it surely wasn't acceptable to do so in the contract. And, sorry regardless of what you think, it does not make it anymore fair to pull the ad's because people whined about the previous games ad's, if anything it's worse they did because they already knew a previous GTA had complaints, and knew IV would be no different in that aspect.

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askiker

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Go Take-Two!! Its about dam*n time they go on the offensive - they are always taking heat and getting kicked around for giving gamers what we really want. I fully support their suit and hope they win. The CTA is a POS. I hope there is a 'Bomb the CTA' mission in GTAV. BTW for all you Jack Thompsons out there, I dont mean I want the CTA to be bombed in real life, just in a FICTIONAL VIDEOGAME - you know where nobody EVER gets hurt. It's a sad day for humans when I actually have to list that disclaimer....

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HotChrisBFries

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First of all I will say... Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Preferably I would think that they want have someone take anger out on a pedestrian in game then to go to a local street corner somewhere. We don't ban punching bags and those little stress balls do we because they subliminally influence someone to go out and punch a real person? Second.... You don't make a contract with a company then terminate it early, even if "but due to complaints over a series of ads that Take-Two ran in 2004 for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." Why would the company even renew the contract if they had complaints the first time through? Thats their own fault and Take-2 has every right to sue for an abridged contact.

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blbell23

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The only thing Take Two will win in a lawsuit is more free publicity by getting their name in the news. There's no way they'll win a lawsuit against the CTA. They have the right to refuse whatever ads they want to refuse. It's a shrewd move by Take Two, but if people have to start paying more to ride a bus or subway because of the CTA's legal costs(highly unlikely), it may backfire on Take Two.

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willauqs

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I support T2's decision. BUT to everyone who thinks it's so retarded of the CTA to pull ads over a "different" game "4 years ago" : you're blinding yourself from the truth if you really can't see a logical reason for the CTA's removal of the ads. We allll know that GTAIV is going to be as violent, if not more, than SA.

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jgon_9

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Great job CTA. Get ready to pony up 300 K to Take-Two. I don't see the big fuss. I see those GTA 4 ads all the time on the subway and bus shelters.

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BK-Sleeper

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And Chicago was just so free of crime before the GTA4 ads came up...

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Collin20

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What's funny is the streak of violence that also happened up here in Milwaukee happened on 4/20. Funny it was that day, but it must have been a game ad. Oh wait, we didn't have any GTA ads here...

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GhostyMcboo

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DarkDragonmage9.... we could blame gangsters all we want, but I'd rather blame parents, media moguls and music videos. Gangsterism is a form of survival for poor people with no other choice... the citiehey live in certainly suffer from it, but even you (and I) are pointing fingers. It's not who to blame, but who not to blame - and how to cure the disease rather than put a bandaion the symptoms.

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peon_frenzy

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"30 people were shot and killed all around the city that weekend and they blamed it on ads, ridiculous" There were 36 shootings not 36 deaths. I just looked it up and there were 9 deaths. The next weekend there were 13 shootings 3 deaths. They had swat teams patrolling neighborhoods because the violence has become so bad. I really feel like moving from Chicago. Although I agree that GTA ads have nothing to do with it, and it was ridiculous they pulled them.

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Muppetguy21

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Good for them..they took the ads down for a game that was out like 5 years ago...i swear commen sence people.

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darkdragonmage9

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want to blame something for those shootings blame the street gangs that are doing them

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mysterylobster

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"As you can see, this is not a private company, it is a government entity. As such, of course the CTA has the right to regulate what it advertises, but only in a fair, constitutional way. Which means, the CTA cannot discriminate against a particular company if the content is basically the same as other advertisements they regularly post." This is not a public forum, it's ad space, and as such the ability to regulate is expanded and the areas they can't regulate are significantly narrowed. They can discriminate against a company or a product, especially if there's public outcry and the chance of bringing them notoriety for keeping up the ad. The message of the ad is simply "buy GTA4" so they can't say they discriminated against them because they disagreed with their message.

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Agreb91

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I think they deserved to be sued.

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