On August 7, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission convened an all-day workshop to discuss consumer protection issues associated with “loot boxes”—randomized virtual items players can purchase or earn in video games. While the production cost of video games has increased significantly, the average price of console games has largely not changed since the 1970s, and many mobile games are free to download. Panelists observed that loot boxes have helped bridge the gap between this high cost of video game production and their relatively flat sale price.
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Against the background of lawsuits and debate about the role of communications service providers in moderating speech on their platforms, the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in, affirming that private entities that host forums for speech are not state actors subject to constitutional requirements.

The Decision

In a 5-4 decision by Justice Kavanaugh, the Court held in Manhattan Community Access Corp. v. Halleck, 587 U.S. __ (2019) that a private, nonprofit corporation operating a public-access TV channel is not a state actor subject to the First Amendment. Producers of public access programming had claimed the channel was a state actor that violated their First Amendment rights after it suspended them from its services due to their films’ content. The Court disagreed.
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