Judge: Uber, Lyft cars may play 'annoying' ads

Like it or not, we may be seeing a whole lot more ads in cabs. A judge gave the green light Thursday to a firm called Vugo that wants to put ads in cars driven for Uber, Lyft, and similar companies.

"Vugo now has immediate rights to advertise and to help people discover new businesses, new services, new things when they're in New York City," Vugo founder James Bellefeuille said.

Vugo places digital content—ads, entertainment, and public service announcements—in rideshare services nationwide.

In 2015, New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission banned the ads in cars that were not medallion taxis or street-hail liveries. Vugo sued New York City in response.

"We feel that it's our duty in our business specifically to defend the consumer's rights to information," Bellefeuille said. "That is really what we're protecting when we're protecting commercial speech under the First Amendment today."

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams ruled in favor of Vugo. The ruling noted New Yorkers tend to find taxi ads annoying, but she wrote, "There is no basis for concluding that advertisements in the exempted vehicles are somehow less annoying or that those passengers are any less vulnerable."

According to the ruling, New York City does have some rights to regulate how long the content is displayed, just as long as everyone is treated the same.

A spokesperson for the New York City Law Department is reviewing this decision.

A similar lawsuit is pending in Chicago.