If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

ESA vows to fight Californian violent game bill

First Amendment rights under scrutiny again as Schwarzenegger goes to Supreme Court

US trade association the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) has vowed to continue its fight against a Californian violent videogames bill, which is shortly to go before the US Supreme Court.

The bill in question was first signed by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005 and attempts to make the purchase of mature-rated games by a minor illegal. If made law the retailer selling the game would face fines of up to $1000 (£650).

Like innumerable such bills before and since, from a variety of different US states, the bill was thrown out as being incompatible with the US constitution's First Amendment. The ESA was even awarded $282,000 (£183,000) in legal fees as a result.

Schwarzenegger's original attempt to appeal the decision was also thrown out in 2009. This has left the Supreme Court as the last chance for the bill to become law.

In anticipation of the new legal fight the ESA has issued a statement on the issue:"Courts throughout the country have ruled consistently that content-based regulation of computer and video games is unconstitutional. Research shows that the public agrees, video games should be provided the same protections as books, movies and music."

"A poll recently conducted by KRC Research found that 78 per cent believe video games should be afforded first amendment protection. We look forward to presenting our arguments in the Supreme Court of the United States and vigorously defending the works of our industry’s creators, storytellers and innovators,” continued the statement from ESA president and CEO Michael D. Gallagher.

The ESA is being support by the Media Coalition trade association, which helps to defend First Amendment rights across all mainstream media. A statement from the organisation describes its hope that a Supreme Court judgement in favour of the ESA would put an end to all other similar bills in the future.

The Media Coalition filed a friend-of-the-court (aka amicus) brief in support of the ESA in 2008, in which it argued that speech with violent content could not be regulated by the government and that the labeling requirement was unconstitutional as "compelled speech".

Related topics

David Jenkins