The owner of a topless maids business in Los Angeles has been told he has to stop parking his mobile ads on city streets.
The business owner, Sami Ammari, has been parking his hot pink van emblazoned with "Topless Maids" and the phone number 818-666-HUGE near his business in Studio City, reports NBC.
Unsurprisingly, the van has sparked an outcry from local residents, and the City of Los Angeles put Ammari on notice that he can't park the "mobile ad" on city streets anymore. Ammari has been fined thousands of dollars and is now parking his van in surrounding cities like Burbank.
Ammari is suing the city claiming that the mobile ad ban violates his First Amendment rights and he reportedly plans to seek an injunction against enforcement of the ordinance, writes NBC.
Ammari may have a valid claim as one of the benefits of living and owning a business in America is that you enjoy certain freedoms of speech. For example, Ammari can advertise for his topless maids business, regardless of how tasteless some may view his business. And Ammari can decorate his van any color he wants and adopt a lewd phone number.
However, even in the U.S., one's right to free speech is not unlimited. For example, you cannot make up stuff to harm someone (defamation) and you may not use certain ads and statements if it will be harmful to the public. For example, a mobile ad flashing provocative words in extremely bright colors can arguably be banned if it can be tied to distracted drivers or driving down property values.
The City of Los Angeles will have the burden of justifying its ordinance and proving why the business owner's ads should be illegal. Given that court's generally try to favor free speech, it will be interesting to hear the arguments presented in court in favor of (and against) the ordinance. Owners of provocative business may want to pay attention to learn the limits of their own advertising.