Thursday, March 18, 2010

regulating RedBox vs. restricting competition

Excerpts from an intro and follow-up articles-- both in the C-J...

the first by the Indy Star's Jon Murray

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 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....

It's driven, at least in part, by the kiosks' old-school competitors -- the brick-and-mortar video stores that say they provide safeguards by requiring customers renting R-rated DVDs to show ID.

Kiosks, they say, aren't playing by the same rules, though Redbox officials say their kiosks require customers to affirm their age and are on firm legal ground....

the update from an AP writer--

The Vanderburgh County prosecutor says he won't pursue charges against stores that offer R-rated films in movie rental kiosks accessible by minors....

A very interesting question! There is the potential for "unfair competition" and a reduced inability to enforce laws that regulate "community standards". But as the first article (impressively) notes, this is also a terrific example of the universal desire to use the government to restrict one's competition.

This holds whether we're talking about doctors, Teamsters, car manufacturers, tax-service providers, manicurists, peanut farmers, and so on.


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