California Appeals Videogame Law to Supreme Court

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California Appeals Videogame Law to Supreme Court

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The state of California has appealed a ruling against a 2005 law restricting the sale of videogames to minors to the Supreme Court of the United States, the first time a case dealing with the constitutionality of violent videogames has ever been taken to the land's highest court.

Sponsored by vocal game critic and California State Senator Leland Yee, the law was signed into effect in October of that year by Governor Schwarzenegger but didn't take effect thanks to an injunction issued by Judge Ronald Whyte in December. Judge Whyte eventually struck down the law as unconstitutional and ordered the state to pay $282,794 in legal fees to the Entertainment Software Association; California responded by appealing Whyte's decision to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court, which upheld the original ruling.

Despite the repeated losses and numerous similar decisions in other states throughout the Union, Schwarzenegger has elected to take his appeal all the way to the Supreme Court. "I signed this important measure to ensure parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children," Schwarzenegger said in a press release. "By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law would allow parents to make better informed decisions for their kids. I will continue to vigorously defend this law and protect the well-being of California's kids."

Echoing Schwarzenegger's comments, Yee said, "I am hopeful that the Supreme Court - which has never heard a case dealing with violent video games - will accept our appeal and assist parents in keeping these harmful video games out of the hands of children. I believe the high court will uphold this law as Constitutional."

"The video game industry should not be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children," he continued. "The multi-billion dollar video game industry relies on the revenue generated by the sales of these extremely violent games to children; thus they have the desire and resources to fight this cause at every turn. Despite their high-priced lobbyists, they were unsuccessful in the Legislature and despite their high-priced lawyers, I am hopeful they will inevitably face the same fate in the courts."

The Entertainment Software Association, which has led the legal battle in support of the First Amendment rights of videogames, issued a statement in response to the appeal saying, "California's citizens should see this for what it is - a complete waste of the state's time and resources. California is facing a $21 billion budget shortfall coupled with high unemployment and home foreclosure rates. Rather than focus on these very real problems, Governor Schwarzenegger has recklessly decided to pursue wasteful, misguided and pointless litigation."

"We are confident that this appeal will meet the same fate as the State's previous failed efforts to regulate what courts around the country have uniformly held to be expression that is fully protected by the First Amendment," the statement continued. "California's taxpayers would be better served by empowering parents and supporting the ESRB rating system."

The appeal will not necessarily be considered by the Supreme Court, however. The state has filed a writ of certiorari to be considered by the court and, as happened with Jack Thompson's recent failed appeal of his disbarment, if less than four of the nine judges on the Supreme Court vote to hear the appeal, it will come to an end. Unlike Thompson's appeal, however, this one may have the legs to make it; battles over the First Amendment protection afforded to videogames have been hotly contested in numerous State courts and the opportunity to settle the issue once and for all might be one the Supreme Court is willing to embrace.

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By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled

Um... they already are. Have any of these people looked at a video game box before? The rating is right on the front. And legally people cannot sell games to people under the age of the ESRB rating.

I think hes confusing the video game industry with Sky Net...

Honestly he has more important things to worry about, like how financially fucked our state is. Stop wasting time with stupid crap model T-800, thats an order!

CoverYourHead:

By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled

Um... they already are. Have any of these people looked at a video game box before? The rating is right on the front there. And legally people cannot sell games to people under the age of the ESRB rating.

I'd expect the Governator to know these sorts of things.

I find this ironic coming from Arnie. This is a guy who pretty much made his name by acting as a super-hero to kids in ultra-violet blockbuster movies. I mean crud, I grew up watching the guy pretend to decimate bad guys in movies long before I was 18... well that is when he wasn't the Bad Guy (gogo Terminator).

Yet this is the guy who is opposing violence/action directed at kids?

What about the video games based on HIS movies over the years. Oh, granted most of them blew utter chips, but they were still out there, and were not exactly known for their non-violent, educationally oriented content. :/

I'd actually write him a letter, but he'd never read it, or care if he did. I'm in Connecticut and my vote isn't even a factor.

Ah well, I guess Republicans can disagree with each other. What we need is the second coming of Charlton Heston! Firearms education in school! A gun on every hip. Let's make the issue irrelevent. (yes, I'm very pro-gun as well as supporting violent games).

>>>----Therumancer--->

CoverYourHead:

By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled

Um... they already are. Have any of these people looked at a video game box before? The rating is right on the front there. And legally people cannot sell games to people under the age of the ESRB rating.

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Is there a link to describe what this law does specifically? I'm no law expert, but I'd like to be able to rip it apart properly.

I agree with what he's trying to do, if these games are illegal for the kids to buy then the media will shut up about kids owning violent video games, and finally look at the parents for screwing up their kids.

xmetatr0nx:
I think hes confusing the video game industry with Sky Net...

Honestly he has more important things to worry about, like how financially fucked our state is. Stop wasting time with stupid crap model T-800, thats an order!

LOL

It'd be cheaper to hire someone to go to every house in California with a copy of an 18 game, slap each person they finds across the back of the head, thrust the case in their face and yell "Don't buy an 18 certificate game for your kids!"
Okay, not cheaper, but more fun!

This is retarded. Video games are totally w/i the rights of the 1st Amendment.

Actually, Meado, it's 17 here in the States.

CoverYourHead:

By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled

Um... they already are. Have any of these people looked at a video game box before? The rating is right on the front. And legally people cannot sell games to people under the age of the ESRB rating.

Being fair, they can legally sell M games to kids, but they aren't stupid enough to. It's store policy for basically every game retailer to follow the ESRB, but it isn't law.

Malygris:
"I signed this important measure to ensure parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children," "By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law would allow parents to make better informed decisions for their kids. I will continue to vigorously defend this law and protect the well-being of California's kids."

All makes sense, but already done, see: ERSB and the little warning that comes up on the register when someone tries to buy it. EDIT: I understand that ERSB is not law, but most retailers, and all that I've come across, use it with store policy regarding sale to minors. So while not law, it still works. Would it hurt to make it a law? No. If it's this big of a deal to make a law of what is already generally accepted, is the time and resources worth it? Also no.

Malygris:
"...assist parents in keeping these harmful video games out of the hands of children... The video game industry should not be allowed to put their profit margins over the rights of parents and the well-being of children, the multi-billion dollar video game industry relies on the revenue generated by the sales of these extremely violent games to children; thus they have the desire and resources to fight this cause at every turn. Despite their high-priced lobbyists, they were unsuccessful in the Legislature and despite their high-priced lawyers, I am hopeful they will inevitably face the same fate in the courts."

Corporate america... global warming... rabble rabble rabble. Hooray for ignorant hate-mongering. Based on the way he talks he probably belives that they eat babies too. The "they" are organizations made of individuals who also have families and children too, and aren't out to get kids hooked on violence so they can make more money. They work with ERSB to try to keep violent games out of the "wrong" hands. Money-wise, their biggest concern is probably piracy by adults. I base this on pretty much the grapevine, news reports I've read, and my own reasoning, but it's probably more reliable than the orifice from which the senator is pulling his information.

Would the senator like to talk about that multi-billion dollar industry known as the United States government that wastes billions bailing out large corrupt and irresponsible companies with taxpayer money? No, probably because like many politicians, he's a rich kid with his second beach house in Florida fund locked away in those stocks. Read: Stereotyping and generalizing based on little to no actual information, not so fun on the receiving end.

Malygris:
"California's citizens should see this for what it is - a complete waste of the state's time and resources. California is facing a $21 billion budget shortfall coupled with high unemployment and home foreclosure rates. Rather than focus on these very real problems, Governor Schwarzenegger has recklessly decided to pursue wasteful, misguided and pointless litigation... California's taxpayers would be better served by empowering parents and supporting the ESRB rating system."

Agreed.

I'm pretty sure this calls for a bigger label on the box and bigger sanctions for people who sell the games to minors.

Tinq:
I'm pretty sure this calls for a bigger label on the box and bigger sanctions for people who sell the games to minors.

How about a video game box that has the name of the game and the rest of it is the rating. It would save on box art costs.

Frank_Sinatra_:

Tinq:
I'm pretty sure this calls for a bigger label on the box and bigger sanctions for people who sell the games to minors.

How about a video game box that has the name of the game and the rest of it is the rating. It would save on box art costs.

That. Also, even if reasonably larger, is there anything to indicate that bigger labels would help? Even if bigger labels and better sanctions are the answer, wouldn't the resources be better allocated in maybe working with the game companies, ERSB, and vendors rather than literally making a federal case out of it?

Therumancer:
I find this ironic coming from Arnie. This is a guy who pretty much made his name by acting as a super-hero to kids in ultra-violet blockbuster movies. I mean crud, I grew up watching the guy pretend to decimate bad guys in movies long before I was 18... well that is when he wasn't the Bad Guy (gogo Terminator).

Yet this is the guy who is opposing violence/action directed at kids?

What about the video games based on HIS movies over the years. Oh, granted most of them blew utter chips, but they were still out there, and were not exactly known for their non-violent, educationally oriented content. :/

I'd actually write him a letter, but he'd never read it, or care if he did. I'm in Connecticut and my vote isn't even a factor.

Ah well, I guess Republicans can disagree with each other. What we need is the second coming of Charlton Heston! Firearms education in school! A gun on every hip. Let's make the issue irrelevent. (yes, I'm very pro-gun as well as supporting violent games).

>>>----Therumancer--->

Woah, woah, before we start blaming republicans or democrats or even Arnold let's look at who started this whole mess. Senator Leland Yee. Now he has his right and has stated via video on his issue with video games. However I disagree with the creation of the bill he pushes and was glad it was defeated. It was a bad move by Arnold to push the bill despite California(the state I live in) being broke and borrowing too much money and not focusing how to generate new funds in the changing california economy.

Besides gamers are all a little bit constitutionalists. We LOVE the second amendment.

Nuke_em_05:

Frank_Sinatra_:

Tinq:
I'm pretty sure this calls for a bigger label on the box and bigger sanctions for people who sell the games to minors.

How about a video game box that has the name of the game and the rest of it is the rating. It would save on box art costs.

That. Also, even if reasonably larger, is there anything to indicate that bigger labels would help? Even if bigger labels and better sanctions are the answer, wouldn't the resources be better allocated in maybe working with the game companies, ERSB, and vendors rather than literally making a federal case out of it?

No, no, no we can't do that because it makes sense and this is politics.

What gets me is that it is being publicized as "big bad video game companies are out to corrupt our children with violent video games". One, we don't need any more of that, video games haven't been proved to cause aggresssion, only increase it in already aggressive personalities, violent video games aren't the only video games, not all gamers play violent video games for the violence. Two, the video game companies aren't "out to get the children". Three, this isn't a "State of California vs Video Games case". This is the legislature writing a law, the executive branch signing the law, and the judicial branch determining it to be unconstitutional, and now they are appealing it to the highest level of the judicial branch. This is an internal government affair. The Supreme Court will determine if such a law is constitutional, not whether or not video games are evil. Regardless, all we will hear is about the "evil violent video games" and "our innocent children".

Frank_Sinatra_:

Nuke_em_05:

Frank_Sinatra_:

Tinq:
I'm pretty sure this calls for a bigger label on the box and bigger sanctions for people who sell the games to minors.

How about a video game box that has the name of the game and the rest of it is the rating. It would save on box art costs.

That. Also, even if reasonably larger, is there anything to indicate that bigger labels would help? Even if bigger labels and better sanctions are the answer, wouldn't the resources be better allocated in maybe working with the game companies, ERSB, and vendors rather than literally making a federal case out of it?

No, no, no we can't do that because it makes sense and this is politics.

Dang it! I forgot about that... silly me and my reasoning.

Maybe they should make the boxes like some cigarette boxes in the UK where they show a disgusting picture showing the consequences of selling games to people under-age >_> That's right I just compared under-age gaming to cigarettes...

I don't even see what the fuss is. I am (undoubtably) uninformed on this, but if they is not a law regarding ESRB ratings but only the shops policy on it then I would have thought making ESRB ratings legal wouldn't be a bad thing. It certainly wouldn't stop under-age gamers though.

You'd just ask one of your parents to buy it for you and it wouldn't have any adverse side-effects on you. Unless you are easily corrupted.

Isnt it just fun how people still fail to recognise that most gamers are in fact NOT children?

CoverYourHead:

By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled

Um... they already are. Have any of these people looked at a video game box before? The rating is right on the front. And legally people cannot sell games to people under the age of the ESRB rating.

Actually, there is nothing requiring any games to be rated, nor for them to display a rating. There isn't any law about selling M rated games to minors, either, any more than there is a law forbidding kids from going into R rated movies. It's all industry driven and industry enforced, usually pretty effectively too. Pretty much all major retailers belong to professional organizations that have requirements about displaying ratings and enforcing age limits.

I don't know if the Supreme Court will actually look at this (I give it a 50/50 shot) but I sure hope they decide against California again. It would set a very bad precedent if CA actually wins, and would likely spread to other forms of entertainment. I could easily see movie ratings being next. Idiots don't realize the system we have actually works, and it doesn't need fixing.

"The multi-billion dollar video game industry relies on the revenue generated by the sales of these extremely violent games to children"

Huh.
I hear PopCap is doing quite well, without the whole "revenue generated by the sale of these extremely violent games to children".

Im still not sure how the Schwarzenegger won the elections. Was their noone else running? Anyway, I think that this one will be shot down like Jack's attempt, but if this does get passed they will probably pass it in all the states seeing that California has been known to be a trend starter.

"California is facing a $21 billion budget shortfall coupled with high unemployment and home foreclosure rates. Rather than focus on these very real problems, Governor Schwarzenegger has recklessly decided to pursue wasteful, misguided and pointless litigation."

I feel that this is a low blow to the govenator, at least hes doing something more oiling his massive biceps.

image

Q.E.D.

orannis62:

CoverYourHead:

By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled

Um... they already are. Have any of these people looked at a video game box before? The rating is right on the front. And legally people cannot sell games to people under the age of the ESRB rating.

Being fair, they can legally sell M games to kids, but they aren't stupid enough to. It's store policy for basically every game retailer to follow the ESRB, but it isn't law.

It might as well be, seeing as how all the stores follow it lest they be lynched by the parenting mobs. In Walmart, the register lets out a warning squeal (as if you've stolen something) when a M-rated game is checked to alert the cashier to potential shenanigans.

I don't care really. I can buy the games myself now, so the retailers can go shove it, but this bill seems to be unecessary and wasteful. Does it do anything else besides making the sale of mature games to younguns illegal?

It's rather pointless: a kid can walk into a Border's and buy something far more sexually explicit and violent than a videogame. Yet they don't give books any dirty looks...

Probably because books aren't hip and trendy.

"California is facing a $21 billion budget shortfall coupled with high unemployment and home foreclosure rates. Rather than focus on these very real problems, Governor Schwarzenegger has recklessly decided to pursue wasteful, misguided and pointless litigation."

By making this pathetic arguement, the ESA has enabled the conservatives to focus more on the issue. By saying "you have bigger problems to focus on, don't worry about us," it not only makes it appear as if the ESA is secretly sweating over a real concern, it makes them sound like total douches. You cannot pass the buck like this. If the tobacco industry took all the charges of selling cancer at inflated rates, and then said to the prosecuting party (we'll just assume it's some government official) "your administration sucks, give the homeless homes," people would be up in arms over the blatant attempt to not only avoid taking responsibility for the charges, but for the pathetic mudslinging attempt.

By saying "don't worry about us, fix your other problems," they have made it so the conservatives can much more easily label the situation as the ESA covering for something, and as a much bigger problem. This will lead to longer legal battles, which once hitting the Supreme Court will negatively impact the image of gaming and harm the industry, and meanwhile the same unemployed the ESA pretended to be martyrs for ("help the poor, then we can focus on the little issues") are increasing in numbers because they have only allowed for the video game industry to become a bigger distraction from the real problems.

In short, yes, it is misguided and pointless litigation. But by calling it such in such a perfect soundbite, it is only creating more misguided and pointless litigation.

Frank_Sinatra_:

Tinq:
I'm pretty sure this calls for a bigger label on the box and bigger sanctions for people who sell the games to minors.

How about a video game box that has the name of the game and the rest of it is the rating. It would save on box art costs.

And sales would plummet, losing more money than is gained by avoiding the creation of box art. Why not make book covers the name of the book, and a list of all the mature things that happen in that book? The covers are a form of art, both in design and, more importantly, marketing. Look how much effort was put into the minimalistic Left 4 Dead cover that we all instantly recognize... there is a lot more to the image displayed than a picture pulled out of thin air minutes before releasing the game.
You're asking for censorship, which is probably the most disgusting invention of mankind.

CoverYourHead:

By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled

Um... they already are. Have any of these people looked at a video game box before? The rating is right on the front. And legally people cannot sell games to people under the age of the ESRB rating.

Vouched.

Though I was sold a couple M-Rated games when I was 16 and I was alone in the store...

AstorSapolsky:

Frank_Sinatra_:

Tinq:
I'm pretty sure this calls for a bigger label on the box and bigger sanctions for people who sell the games to minors.

How about a video game box that has the name of the game and the rest of it is the rating. It would save on box art costs.

And sales would plummet, losing more money than is gained by avoiding the creation of box art. Why not make book covers the name of the book, and a list of all the mature things that happen in that book? The covers are a form of art, both in design and, more importantly, marketing. Look how much effort was put into the minimalistic Left 4 Dead cover that we all instantly recognize... there is a lot more to the image displayed than a picture pulled out of thin air minutes before releasing the game.
You're asking for censorship, which is probably the most disgusting invention of mankind.

And no offense but you apparently don't grasp the concept of sarcasm. I wrote that statement to show how ridiculous that idea that California had. If anyone is for the 1st Amendment it would be me, a college student studying JOURNALISM!
The government always pulls this kind of crap with video games and we need someone like me to take the idea that they had and blast it way out of proportion.
If anything the Californian government needs to go after companies like Game Stop not the ESA. It is not their responsibility and it isn't even Game Stops or similar companies responsibility. California should go after the parents who are being lazy and not PARENTING.

CoverYourHead:

By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled

Um... they already are. Have any of these people looked at a video game box before? The rating is right on the front. And legally people cannot sell games to people under the age of the ESRB rating.

like was said before it's not illegal, it's store policy not to sell the games to minors. they are trying to make it a law that it's illegal HOWEVER every time the law passes it gets tossed out by a court, much like this law was.

the funnier part about this is if the Supreme Court does hear the case and says "this law is invalid and violates free speech" then all the other attempts at laws will fail because of the precedent set by the Supreme Court, this is very dangerous for California to try cause it might backfire with very bad and possibly unintended consequences

Nuke_em_05:

Frank_Sinatra_:

Nuke_em_05:

Frank_Sinatra_:

Tinq:
I'm pretty sure this calls for a bigger label on the box and bigger sanctions for people who sell the games to minors.

How about a video game box that has the name of the game and the rest of it is the rating. It would save on box art costs.

That. Also, even if reasonably larger, is there anything to indicate that bigger labels would help? Even if bigger labels and better sanctions are the answer, wouldn't the resources be better allocated in maybe working with the game companies, ERSB, and vendors rather than literally making a federal case out of it?

No, no, no we can't do that because it makes sense and this is politics.

Dang it! I forgot about that... silly me and my reasoning.

Two things:

1) Even if the bill doesn't pass retailers still won't sell to minors because if they do they'll be ostracized by the rest of the industry like the one emo kid at a TF2 fan forum.

2) I'm naming my new Ultra-Gorefest Game "E: For Everyone" and putting the title in the upper right hand corner of the box.

Frank_Sinatra_:

AstorSapolsky:

Frank_Sinatra_:

Tinq:
I'm pretty sure this calls for a bigger label on the box and bigger sanctions for people who sell the games to minors.

How about a video game box that has the name of the game and the rest of it is the rating. It would save on box art costs.

And sales would plummet, losing more money than is gained by avoiding the creation of box art. Why not make book covers the name of the book, and a list of all the mature things that happen in that book? The covers are a form of art, both in design and, more importantly, marketing. Look how much effort was put into the minimalistic Left 4 Dead cover that we all instantly recognize... there is a lot more to the image displayed than a picture pulled out of thin air minutes before releasing the game.
You're asking for censorship, which is probably the most disgusting invention of mankind.

And no offense but you apparently don't grasp the concept of sarcasm. I wrote that statement to show how ridiculous that idea that California had. If anyone is for the 1st Amendment it would be me, a college student studying JOURNALISM!
The government always pulls this kind of crap with video games and we need someone like me to take the idea that they had and blast it way out of proportion.
If anything the Californian government needs to go after companies like Game Stop not the ESA. It is not their responsibility and it isn't even Game Stops or similar companies responsibility. California should go after the parents who are being lazy and not PARENTING.

I'm sorry sport, but it was four in the morning. As a college student studying PSYCHOLOGY I know that my weird sleeping schedules dull my senses, and I shouldn't attempt to try to comprehend sarcasm when my insomnia is at its worst.
I like the spirit, though.

Tinq:

Nuke_em_05:

Frank_Sinatra_:

Nuke_em_05:

Frank_Sinatra_:

Tinq:
Snip

Snip

Snip

Snip.

Snip.

Two things:

1) Even if the bill doesn't pass retailers still won't sell to minors because if they do they'll be ostracized by the rest of the industry like the one emo kid at a TF2 fan forum.

2) I'm naming my new Ultra-Gorefest Game "E: For Everyone" and putting the title in the upper right hand corner of the box.

So... case in point, fighting for this bill is a waste of resources for a state that is already low on resources. Government exists for regulation. The game industry is already self-regulating with the ERSB; game developers submit to it and retailers follow it. Those that don't... well, I can't think of any that don't, but that's probably because the consequences would be reputation suicide. So the resources could be better spent supporting the ERSB.

As I said before, making it a law wouldn't be a bad thing, but if it is requiring all this litigation and resources, it is not worth it to create redundant regulation.

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