Monday, February 21, 2005

Outdoor Electronic Billboard - Freedom of Speech

A Bay City (Detroit Michigan area) real-estate agency owner has been lighting up the entrance to Bay City since September with a vibrant electronic messaging sign on Euclid Avenue.

Norm Stevens was recently ticketed by the city on the way he is using the sign. The city cited Stevens only for displaying images of off-site advertisers. The city also said public service announcements also would conflict with the city ordinance. The city claimed the advertising must be for the business on the premises only and that he has an illegal billboard.

Although the permit is only $100, Stevens believes the citation is a violation of his First Amendment right of free speech. Stevens erected the sign, part of a $75,000 electronic system, to advertise his real-estate business, display public service announcements and for advertising other businesses.

Stevens said selling advertising to others helps pay for the system. He sent a message to city regulators that he's willing to fight on grounds of freedom of speech. Stevens has plans to install a network of outdoor digital signage across the city.

This is a case Webpavement will be following - and reporting to you - because it will serve as a great case for digital signage as it relates to the first amendment >> freedom of speech.

Read the press release.

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