Six-year legal wrangle ends with first amendment protection

US developer freedoms get supreme court vote

The American video games industry has today emerged victorious in its six-year battle with Californian authorities.

The US Supreme Court today ruled in favour of gaming in the case entitled Brown, Governor of California et al vs Entertainment Merchants Association et al.

This means gaming is now safe from the possible threat of legally enforceable games ratings that would restrict the sale of some content.

In a movement begun by none other than violent film star Arnold Schwarzenegger himself, lawmakers had hoped to illegals the sale of mature and violent video games to minors.

It is not strictly illegal to sell violent games to minors in the US. Instead, the industry polices itself through a voluntary code of conduct.

Had a been been passed it would have represented a significant compromise of the American First Amendment and isolated games from other forms of media such as movies and books.

Indeed, it was this clash with the First Amendment that eventually saw Californian authorities defeated.

Under Schwarzenegger’s stewardship a law had actually been passed to illegals the sale of adult games to minors, though the law was eventually found to be unconstitutional by Californian courts.

"The Act does not comport with the First Amendment," the court ruled. "Video games qualify for First Amendment protection.

"This country has no tradition of specially restricting children’s access to depictions of violence. And California’s claim that ‘interactive’ video games present special problems, in that the player participates in the violent action on screen and determines its outcome, is unpersuasive.

Because the Act imposes a restriction on the content of protected speech, it is invalid unless California can demonstrate that it passes strict scrutiny, i.e., it is justified by a compelling government interest and is narrowly drawn to serve that interest. California cannot meet that standard.

More details can be found over at MCV

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