NYC, US District Judge Ronnie Abrams ruled in favor of advertising in Uber and Lyft cars. The case came as first amendment-based action against the city of New York. The case placed by Vugo Inc. of Minnesota claims that the city of New York is banning the use of advertising in rideshare cars while allowing the use of advertising in taxis and livery cars. The Judge accepted this claim and stated that "large swaths of the vehicles" are using advertising while over double the amount is being banned from doing so. In effect, 20,000 cars are currently fitted with audiovisual advertising systems while a further 73,000 are not.
Currently, the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission prohibits Uber and Lyft cars from advertising, claiming that they are not licensed to do so. Judge Abrams ruling over-rides the TLC, and this now opens the way for Uber and Lyft drivers to increase their income through digital advertising.
While Judge Abrams has ruled in favor of the advertising company, he noted that digital advertising was considered to be detrimental to the ride experience, where passengers could not control the volume or the actual screen, making the ride in some instances very uncomfortable. In regards to allowing customers the right to turn off screens, Judge Abrams wrote "Any devices displaying advertisements could, for instance, be required to be outfitted with a properly functioning on-off switch or a mute button. This would effectively leave the decision to be faced with such advertisements to the passenger, preventing any citizen from becoming a captive audience subjected to unwanted noise and imagery." He also wrote in his ruling that "there is no basis for concluding that advertisements in the exempted vehicles are somehow less annoying or that those passengers are any less vulnerable."
Judge Abrams sent a message to the City in his ruling that opens the grounds for regulating content. This would allow the city control over what is being displayed and how it is displayed.
According to Vugo's attorney Chad Snyder, the ruling is a pretty big deal, and it opens the business to thousands of new customers. They are also pursuing a similar case in Chicago.