Proposed legislation in the Empire State would legally force you to identify yourself if someone didn’t like your comment on a web site. Essentially, it’s a ban on anonymous online comments.
We certainly have no problem getting caught up in the fun of playing games, but the people who create them have their pocketbooks to worry about, too. In this column, finance expert and GameSpy contributor Chris Morris guides you through the tricky corridors the gaming industry’s financial side, touching on big-time business decisions and how they matter to the common gamer.
After being subjected to political and legal attacks for years, the gaming industry got one hell of a shield last month as the U.S. Supreme Court definitively stated “Video games qualify for First Amendment protection.” It was cause for celebration — for investors, for developers, and for gamers. But it hardly meant that the attacks were over… or less dangerous. For several publishers, a new fight is already looming.
“I don’t think this puts an end to it, ” says Dan Offner, a partner with law firm Loeb & Loeb, who specializes in the video game industry. “It may put a pin in it for a short period of time, but I see the regulation of mature content with respect to minors as a hot-button issue for the Federal Trade Commission and the various state governments. It’s the end of round one, but round two is about to start [and] I don’t see the industry getting a big breather.”
The high court, in a 7-2 decision, struck down a California law that attempted to restrict the sale of violent games to minors. The industry had been closely watching the ruling because it feared that if the law were upheld, it would carve out an exemption to the First Amendment that could eventually extend to violence in movies and TV shows.
In a landmark ruling, the U. S. Supreme Court Monday declared video games are protected forms of free speech, striking down a controversial California law that that attempted to restrict the sale of some titles to minors.
The state argued that violent games are harmful to children and, as such, their sale should be restricted. California took a slightly different approach than other states who have attempted to pass similiar laws, though, by including violent games in the same category as cigarettes and adult magazines. The Court strongly rejected the argument.
In a 7-2 ruling, the Court struck down a controversial California law that attempted to restrict the sale of violent games to minors.
“Video games qualify for First Amendment protection,” the Court said in its ruling, written by Justice Scalia. “Like protected books, plays, and movies, they communicate ideas through familiar literary devices and features distinctive to the medium. And ‘the basic principles of freedom of speech . . . do not vary’ with a new and different communication medium.”
In a 7-2 ruling, the court said that despite California’s argument that strict scrutiny laws (which govern the distribution of adult entertainment to minors) should apply to this sort of material, the First Amendment protections outweighed those concerns.
Supreme Court justices grilled both sides of the vidgame violence issue Tuesday as the high court heard oral arguments on the challenge to California’s ban on sales of such games to minors. Justices ultimately seemed skeptical of the constitutionality of the law enacted in 2005.
The members of the court seemed concerned about the First Amendment impact of siding with California in the case, Schwarzenegger vs. Entertainment Merchants Assn.
The Supreme Court is schedule to hear oral arguments on Nov. 2 in the case of Schwarzenegger v. EMA, by far the most important challenge – legal or otherwise – the video game history has faced.