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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 EkriirkE (1075937) on Friday February 20, 2009 @07:56PM (#26937255) Homepage
    Tempting fate by going against one of the most violent; a Terminator.
    • by John Allsup (987)

      Fate got bored of temptation long ago, though nice try.

    • Since you brought it up. What's so different about "violent" games than "violent" R-rated movies that every kid even in the 80's had on VHS.

      Why is there not a LAW restricting sales and manufacture of R-Rated movies in California? As a child of the 80's video games weren't that violent... I'll admit I thought about bashing some barrels with a hammer and beating up apes.. but it was to save a girl. On the other hand I really did want to beat up bullies as a Terminator, or a Predator, or an Eraser... I'd say t

  • So this doesn't apply to piracy, right? Then the kids won't be affected anyway.

  • Good Call (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Friday February 20, 2009 @08:26PM (#26937441)
    This was a really good ruling. Leave censorship to the parents. There has been yet to prove a direct corollation between violent behvior and video games. Some studies have shown that operrant conditioning is happening where video game players may overcome the natural inhibition to kill. However, this theory fails to explain why most people that play violent video games do not go out and act like that in the real world. Behavioral science, while fascinating, is inexact at best. Legislating people's actions based on an inexact science is never a very good idea.
    • Re:Good Call (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mkiwi (585287) on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:15PM (#26937753)

      I'm not so sure.

      We ban R-rated films from minors without a parent accompanying the kids. The reason for this is the graphic nature of many films. (See Saving Private Ryan)
      Kids are exceptional impressionable, and many of these games are as violent if not more so than many R-rated movies.
      I have no problem if the kid's parent comes to the store and buys the game with the child. However, children alone and without supervision should not be allowed to randomly pick up ideas that they have no guidance for.

      I know I'll get modded down. There's a reason these things should not be available to kids without guidance. The human brain does not develop its judgement part until between 18-22 years old, and the judgement of kids younger than 18 is notoriously horrible.

      IMHO, there are a majority of kids who don't have proper guidance and have no moral frame of reference to deal with these situations. Examples:

      - Recent story about a girl arrested for text messaging during class and putting the phone in her underwear so the teacher couldn't get it.
      - The many people who do professional wrestling moves on their little brothers and end up killing or disabling them.
      - Kids who do karate moves on others because Chuck Norris is so badass.
      - The girls at a Massachusetts middle/high school who treat getting pregnant is no big deal and mom will take care of the baby anyway.
      - The fact that two spaces after the end of a sentence seems to be too much to ask for.

      I love libertarian views, but this stuff is not meant for people who have no rational frame of reference. I do not want these people influenced by something they are physically incapable of understanding. That said, there are a few exceptions, and the parents need to be the judge to determine whether that maturity is there or not.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 misgu

      • Re:Good Call (Score:5, Interesting)

        by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:41PM (#26937899) Homepage Journal

        The human brain does not develop its judgement part until between 18-22 years old, and the judgement of kids younger than 18 is notoriously horrible.

        No offense, but I don't agree with a single thing you have said. The human brain starts developing its "judgment part" when it's in the womb. Many children's "judgment" is a lot better than that of most adults.

        During the first six years of my legal career I studied under the late Louis Nizer, who was probably the greatest trial lawyer of the second half of the 20th Century. He said that the best way to know whether your position in a case was right or wrong was to present the facts of the case to a 15-year old; if the 15-year old votes for the other side, then settle the case, quick.

        • by Skadet (528657)

          No offense, but I don't agree with a single thing you have said. The human brain starts developing its "judgment part" when it's in the womb. Many children's "judgment" is a lot better than that of most adults.

          It seems you may have hit reply before perusing the rest of GP's comment. I took the whole 'judgment' thing to be his main point, but I got caught up in the diction. . . turns out what (I think) he's saying is that the younger you are the less life experience you have, and consequently the more diff

      • IMHO, there are a majority of kids who don't have proper guidance and have no moral frame of reference to deal with these situations. Examples:

        - Recent story about a girl arrested for text messaging during class and putting the phone in her underwear so the teacher couldn't get it.
        - The many people who do professional wrestling moves on their little brothers and end up killing or disabling them.
        - Kids who do karate moves on others because Chuck Norris is so badass.
        - The girls at a Massachusetts middle/high

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

        by compro01 (777531) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:50PM (#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 PPH (736903)

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

        Not quite. Any 17 year old girl who has a 28 year old boyfriend with a mullet and a TransAm can get in to watch one.

      • I think I can summarize your entire post with this one quote: these things should not be available to kids without guidance.

        Absolutely right. I think just about everybody agrees that there are things that are not for kids. Now the real issue is does "should not be available" mean "should be forbidden by law"? I tend to think there are certain, very limited, cases where the government does have a role in protecting the child's rights against abuse or neglect by the parents, but in almost all cases it is in
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This was a really good ruling. Leave censorship to the parents. There has been yet to prove a direct corollation between violent behvior and video games. Some studies have shown that operrant conditioning is happening where video game players may overcome the natural inhibition to kill. However, this theory fails to explain why most people that play violent video games do not go out and act like that in the real world. Behavioral science, while fascinating, is inexact at best. Legislating people's actions based on an inexact science is never a very good idea.

      When I was a kid my favorite game was war and my favorite toys were toy guns. In real life I've never in my life ever used a weapon, not even a stick, against another living creature, or even wanted to.

      As far as I'm concerned coming up with a law like is just a bunch of phony politicking, pandering to the dumber voters amongst us.

      • In real life I've never in my life ever used a weapon, not even a stick, against another living creature, or even wanted to.

        You've never used roach or ant spray? I suppose it's possible, altho I'd suppose you don't live in Phoenix... No rat traps or d-Con(R)? Or do you not consider ants/roaches/rats "living creatures"?

        But I agree with your concept tho I'd not characterize it as "favorite", but certainly a major theme. FWIW, my folks didn't encourage and wouldn't buy us toy guns (with the exception, for some reason, of squirt guns), but that didn't stop me or my playmates from finding and using appropriately shaped sticks. We

    • However, this theory fails to explain why most people that play violent video games do not go out and act like that in the real world.

      It doesn't have to. It shows (apparently) that video games cause some people to act violently. That's cause enough to consider a ban, regardless of what the other people do.

  • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <ray.beckermanlegal@com> on Friday February 20, 2009 @09:47PM (#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 microbee (682094)

      What's so hard to understand?

      Lawyers are like hitmen. They just live on the blood, but there is always OTHER PEOPLE who hire them to do the dirty work.

    • Wow a lawyer that's in it for the money. I wouldn't have guessed. Ok ok sorry for the sarcasm. I think it's a good thing that lawyers are greedy SOBs that are in it for the money, that way you can be sure they will do the best job possible.
      • And eventually end up corrupting a large chunk of the legal system. There have to be limits placed somewhere.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pcolaman (1208838)
      And you know what, those lawyers probably don't give a fuck other than they are getting paid. Hell, betcha I could find a lawyer who would defend Hitler in German war crimes charges posthumously if he thought he would get really good money out of it. Lawyers are like leeches, they live off of feeding, and in this case, they feed off of money.
      • by Skadet (528657)

        Lawyers are like leeches, they live off of feeding, and in this case, they feed off of money.

        Unlike us regular folk, who have no need for food. . .

  • by WallyDrinkBeer (1136165) on Friday February 20, 2009 @10:00PM (#26938005)

    The violent move industry is losing market share to the violent video game industry. The video game industry is not paying their hired scum politicians enough apparently.

  • You have been erased.

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