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The Courts Government Entertainment Games News

Appeals Court Strikes Down California's Violent Game Ban 190

Posted by Soulskill
from the legislation-terminated dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has struck down as unconstitutional a California statute purporting to ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. In a 30-page decision (PDF), in Video Software Dealers Association v. Schwarzenegger, the federal appeals court ruled that 'the Act, as a presumptively invalid content based restriction on speech, is subject to strict scrutiny and not the 'variable obscenity' standard from Ginsberg v. New York, 390 U.S. 629 (1968). Applying strict scrutiny, we hold that the Act violates rights protected by the First Amendment because the State has not demonstrated a compelling interest, has not tailored the restriction to its alleged compelling interest, and there exist less-restrictive means that would further the State's expressed interests. Additionally, we hold that the Act's labeling requirement is unconstitutionally compelled speech under the First Amendment because it does not require the disclosure of purely factual information; but compels the carrying of the State's controversial opinion.'"
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Appeals Court Strikes Down California's Violent Game Ban

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:06PM (#26937337)

    The ninth also leads in the number of cases that don't wind up being reversed. Not that either statistic tells us anything meaningful about the likelihood of this particular ruling being reversed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:25PM (#26937435)

    HAHAHAHA! Once again the Jack Thompson of violence in video game research, Dr. Craig Anderson of Iowa State University, has been thoroughly rejected by some clued-in judges

    From the FPDF

    Even upon lay review, however, the disclaimers in this article, alone, significantly undermine the inferences drawn by the State in support of its psychological harm rationale.17

          17
                Dr. Anderson's hearing testimony in the Blagojevich case, which is in
    the record, contains his assent to the statements that there is probably an
    "infinite" number of stimuli that could cause aggression or aggressive
    thoughts in a person (e.g., a picture of a gun), and that his selection of vio-
    lent video games was "largely a matter of [his] choice."

    ...

    Thus, Dr. Anderson's research has readily admitted flaws
    that undermine its support of the State's interest in regulating
    video games sales and rentals to minors, perhaps most impor-
    tantly its retreat from the study of the psychological effects of
    video games as related to the age of the person studied.18
    Although not dispositive of this case, we note that other
    courts have either rejected Dr. Anderson's research or found
    it insufficient to establish a causal link between violence in
    video games and psychological harm. See Kendrick, 244 F.3d
    at 578; Granholm, 426 F. Supp. 2d at 653; Entm't Software
    Ass'n v. Hatch, 443 F. Supp. 2d 1065, 1069 & n.1 (D. Minn.
    2006); Blagojevich, 404 F. Supp. 2d at 1063.

    Ever wonder where the "scientific" studies that stupid lawmakers use as a basis to establish justification for these crap laws come from? Well, now you know. Thankfully, the judges can tell the difference between good science and bullshit science. Too bad the fucking politicians can't.

  • by Faylone (880739) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:33PM (#26937479)
    The ESRB warnings do not hold the weight of law, they are a private company. I can make a game and it doesn't HAVE to be rated.
  • Re:Good Call (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:21PM (#26937795)

    We ban R-rated films from minors without a parent accompanying the kids.

    Except we don't. MPAA ratings are just guidelines, exactly the same as ESRB ratings. Most theatres choose to prevent people under the age of 17 from entering R-rated movies when not accompanied by a parent, just as most video game resellers choose to prevent people under the age of 17 from buying MA-rated video games when not accompanied by a parent.

    It never ceases to amaze me that, despite the seemingly weekly "Someone's trying to ban video games!" article on slashdot, there are still people with the misguided notion that MPAA ratings are enforced by the government.

  • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:47PM (#26937943) Homepage Journal
    Did anyone notice that the lawyers who successfully argued for "freedom of speech" here are the same ones who are fighting so hard [blogspot.com] to prevent the televising of the SONY v. Tenenbaum RIAA case?
  • by Mr2001 (90979) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:57PM (#26937985) Homepage Journal

    We likewise can agree that certain subject matter such as sexually explicit material are inappropriate for people under a certain age.

    Speak for yourself. There's no factual evidence that viewing sexually explicit material is harmful to anyone under any particular age. Calling it "inappropriate" is a matter of opinion, no different from calling political or religious material "inappropriate".

  • Re:Good Call (Score:4, Informative)

    by compro01 (777531) on Friday February 20, 2009 @11:50PM (#26938287)

    We ban R-rated films from minors without a parent accompanying the kids.

    Please cite the relevant law. I am quite sure that it does not exist.

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Friday February 20, 2009 @11:56PM (#26938303)
    Yes, it is a double standard. We should scrutinize laws banning all forms of speech, not just video games.
  • by johnsonav (1098915) on Saturday February 21, 2009 @01:16AM (#26938629) Journal

    The real issue is why would any politician vote for a law such as this which has already been shown time and again to be an automatic failure then waste money defending the failed law.

    Because that way, the politician can say he "did something" about the issue. When stupid angry parents write letters to the legislator, he can assure them he's working hard to protect their poor little children.

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp

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