Judge blocks California game law

Schwarzenegger-signed age-restriction measure slapped with injunction; ESA and IEMA elated.

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In November, a judge ruled a Michigan law banning the sale of mature-rated games to minors as unconstitutional, preventing it from going into effect. Three weeks ago, a similar fate befell an Illinois measure that would have placed similar restrictions on games.

Late yesterday, a California judge issued a ruling that prevented that state's own game-restriction law from going into effect. In the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Judge Ronald Whyte slapped a preliminary injunction on a law signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, himself the star of several games, last month.

In his ruling, Judge Whyte wrote that "games are protected by the First Amendment"--worthy of the same protection of free expression as books, films, television, or the press. He granted the preliminary injunction on the grounds that the terms of the law, which would include mandatory labeling of games deemed unsuitable for minors, would "likely" be ruled unconstitutional. The law was slated to go into effect on January 1, 2006.

The motion for the injunction was requested by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) game-industry lobby and Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA), a game-retailer trade association.

"We are extremely pleased by today's announcement," said ESA President Doug Lowenstein. "For the sixth time in five years, federal courts have now blocked or struck down these state and local laws seeking to regulate the sale of games to minors based on their content, and none have upheld such statutes."

Hal Halpin, president of the IEMA, was a bit sterner in his response. "Our position has been, and shall remain, that government should not be involving itself in the entertainment decisions that consumers make," he said in his own statement. "It is unfortunate that politicians have chosen not to respect the will of the courts and of the people, and it is our continued hope that they will now, given the extraordinary amount of precedent, choose to instead work proactively with us."

As of press time, neither Assemblyman Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), author of the California law, nor Governor Schwarzenegger had commented on the ruling.

Discussion

331 comments
tdavis20050
tdavis20050

For those who are confused, it is not against the law to sell rates R movies or video games to people under 17, it is just the standard protocol for most major retailers and movie theaters (in America anyway). And what makes America great is that people have the freedom to live the way they want, it should not be up to the government to decide for them. As sad as it is, it is up to kids parents to decide what they should and shouldn't watch or play, the governmant shouldn't be allowed that much control over our lives. As crazy as it sounds, people like Hitler did not get where the where overnight. They slowly removed one freedom after another until the people were oppressed. Remember every new law passed = less freedom for you!

Apollo4x
Apollo4x

nirvana175 wrote: I feel sorry for you americans... you are the one of the only two countries in the world (UK being the other) where kids kill civilians with firearms, and where crazy people climb tall buildings to snipe persons, just for the sake of it. That laws should've come into effect for the good of your youth. We, who live in another countries, have no need for such laws since our youth is not mad as yours. Those laws along with gun control should help mitigate the problem of school shootings and those other abominable things that do the youth of your country. Someone's up for the much touted "american way of life"?: It is post like this that really get to me. As I have said ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION it is not the games, movies, books, or music that is causing the problems with kids killing kids. The problem lies with crappy parents that would rather let the popular media raise their kids than they themselves raising their kids. I mean heck when I was a kid my parents took an active interest in my life. They always made sure they knew where I was. Now I'm not saying they kept me on a leash and chain by any means, rather just that they actually gave a crap about me and raised me instead of letting me run wild. Now I know what you must be thinking yea well then he must of just played kiddie games all his life. WRONG I have been playing games that would be termed Viloent all my life and not ONCE have I ever felt the desire to go out and kill or injure someone. So what it comes down to today is that more parents are interested in their lives and less so in their children's lives despite where the government and every one else tries to lay the blame. So put the blame where it belongs (with the parents) rather than going for the easy thing to blame (popular media). *gets off soapbox*

Gradius55
Gradius55

Oh yeah, it's a pretty sad... or better say sick situation here in Germany. Step 1: You mustn't buy Killergames Step 2: No more brutal movies Step 3: No more brutal news Step 4: No Comics or Mangas which are pretty brutal Step 5: Cut or edited cartoons "Blood is bad, violence is not real" Welcome in Happy Hoppy Fun-Joy Land! EXCUSE ME! The world is NOT a happy place and you can't force people to believe this **** People are dying from time to time, you can't avoid it and if "someone" hears that little voice in the mainbrain which say "Kill them all!", it does not comes from a Videogame. Also, what does "Killergames" is standing for? What games do they mean? Politician are only talking without having an idea about the substance of the topic and that's the poor thing. If they would put the money into reconnoitring instead of bashing it right away, it would help a lot more and the accidents would go down.

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

w00t....they should have never voted for the terminator

nirvana175
nirvana175

I feel sorry for you americans... you are the one of the only two countries in the world (UK being the other) where kids kill civilians with firearms, and where crazy people climb tall buildings to snipe persons, just for the sake of it. That laws should've come into effect for the good of your youth. We, who live in another countries, have no need for such laws since our youth is not mad as yours. Those laws along with gun control should help mitigate the problem of school shootings and those other abominable things that do the youth of your country. Someone's up for the much touted "american way of life"?

YeOldeLancer
YeOldeLancer

I applaud those of you who have tried to make reasonable arguements instead of just ranting and raving (you know who you are). I don't think that a real connection can be made between "freedom of speech" and restriction of mature content to minors (games or otherwise). The government isn't stifling the company's free speech by restricting sale of mature content to people who shouldn't have it. The company can still say what it wants, do what it wants, and sell what it wants, but the government is stepping in to protect the bodies and minds of people who can't protect themselves or aren't old enough and wise enough to know what to protect themselves from. And both liberals and conservatives agree that the government does have the responsibility of "promoting the general welfare". They disagree on what that means, but a strong case can be made that this would fall under that umbrella, protecting the youth of our nation from something they may not be ready for. And I can hear the kids screaming now, but the government isn't saying you can't have your game. They're just saying you can't have it now. Get it when you're older (bargain bins are easier on the wallet anyway), or get your "responsible" parents to get it for you, or maybe even listen to them whan they say "that's not good for you". I'm an adult and a parent, but I was a kid once too. And I wasn't completely responsible, nor were any of the other kids I knew. I remember what it was like to be a kid, and I know EXACTLY how you feel. But understand that we as adults know what you know and more, and we're looking at a bigger picture than most of you have been exposed to. And when you are older you WILL see things much differently too. And we're not saying (government and parents alike) that you can't have this. What we're saying is that you aren't ready for this, even though you think you are, and you need to wait until you're older and more responsible and better prepared to have it. The true sadness here is that the government can only assume responsibility and maturity at the age of 18, but there are MANY people much older than that who aren't responsible. If our country was really full of responsible people, then problems like this would be a rarity and not the norm. Parents would be doing their jobs and the government would do nothing because there wouldn't be a need to.

Esperantox
Esperantox

Give M game to mentally sick people, he will kill affected from game, give him a bible, he will kill i name of bible, give him anything and he still is sick and dangerous.

ace_of_spades
ace_of_spades

WAHOO. F*** the Politicians they can't sensor us!!!

KrimsonTwilight
KrimsonTwilight

I have nothing personal against Schwarzenegger but I FULLY support judges doing their job and upholding the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND (ie. the Constitution) and doing it according to the intention with which it was written. In my personal opinion it is the guardian of the child's responsibility to keep up with their child's games and whether or not they are appropriate. The government stepping in to enforce a parent's responsibility is an infraction against their responsibility as a parent and the meaning of the Constitution as a whole.

Swordmaster41
Swordmaster41

there is a finally a reason why the first amendment is useful. good thing too because i live in california. hillary clinton,anrold schwarzenegger, you both are the biggest dumbasses,trying to ban the selling of m rated games to minor.

skitchrick
skitchrick

Is porn next? Same principal, different form of entertainment.

Jinxville
Jinxville

i cant help but wonder that knowing the us government this is all smoke screen and they will pull some kinda bull in the end

Cervantes_Soul
Cervantes_Soul

Arnie isn't a hypocrite. Especially since he never made any violent movies. Nope, nothing like that.

blazethe1
blazethe1

i dont really mind anyone being able to buy the game, just hav the rating so that the parents can tell their kid what they can have. that way the kid is obeying their parents, not the government.

_xyzman_
_xyzman_

Imagine if people will buy fake IDs just to get an M-rated game! Games are becoming more like the booze in mister Blackie' eyes ;) Ratings are there just to suggest. If parents are neglecting the suggestions, then it's their problem. Why should the consitutional rights to be infringed because of some careless people? And the taxpayers money that are spent on ESRB functioning are better to serve on banning violent Arnold's movies.

timmyhasgotagun
timmyhasgotagun

I honestly wonder how many rulings it's going to take stupid people like Joseph Lieberman(however you spell it), to realize that games have constitutional protection. It's exactly like the judge said, games have constitutional rights that can't be crossed. It's freedom of speech, and game designers have that right reserved to them as well. No matter how many times Lieberman, or Clinton, or any other Liberal bastards try to change the laws of this great nation, nothing is going to change, unless some prick makes constitutional amendments. Honestly, it'd take a communist nation to make something like that happen, but the way this country is headed, I wouldn't be surprised to see some socialist reform. Unites Socialist States of America anyone? I can see it now, with people like the Schwartz(by the way, he's not a liberal, I do realize that...)

Agent793
Agent793

StewieGriffin78.. Games have ratings for a REASON. The same why guns have safety locks, why bottles have caps, and why people wear clothes.. Just because your parents THINK that you're "mature enough" to play such M-rated games doesn't mean that you SHOULD be allowed to play them. This is an example of bad parenting. Unbelievable.

slownsilent
slownsilent

once again the constitution saved us again

OddballTECH
OddballTECH

Never expected a judge to be in favor of games. He is right though. Why should games be criticized when movies that are just as violent are not?

ZanderCool
ZanderCool

Good to hear there is some sense left. First off it did violate the first amendment and even more importantly, the government has better things to worry about (...how about having the worst health care out of most 1st world countries?) then babysitting other parents' children.

dwhittle001
dwhittle001

The issue with minors being able to purchase M rated games is a double edged sword. From one side, if minors can purchase M rated games then why can't they purchase pornagraphic content? It doesn't do any physical harm to them, the first amendment applys to it, so why ban that? Because of the moral responsibilities we as a country face in reference to what our children should and simply shouldn't see regardless of whats "constitutional." From the other side, why try and ban the sale of M rated games to minors just because their parents never get involved. Good parents would be able to keep these games out of their children's hands whether they were banned for sale to minors or not. Some minors ARE mature enough to play M rated games and others are not. Ultimately it will be up to the parents to decide what their child should and shouldn't play whether a ban goes in effect or not. So in my opinion, the whole ordeal is a waste of time.

24_KarroTz
24_KarroTz

Even if these laws did pass, it wouldn't change what SOME people do. If they say they learned it from a video game, why would you believe them, there is so much more that could happen and just playing a video game doesn't make you stupid. Even if they didn't play the game you can go on a site and watch gameplay of it, and how is that different. They're still seeing the stuff they need to make them do what they do (not that I think they do, I think the people that shoot up schools and stuff like that are crazy and not under the gaming influence).

FFDickeyX
FFDickeyX

eh it wouldnt matter if it had gone into effect. people still would have gotten the game, and kids would probably just bemore curious about"y cant i play this game?" Thank you judicial people. I tell u this: if thomas jefferson could see the stuff that politicians are trying to pull, he would take them out of their cars, beat them with bats, save, and talk with tommy and cj aboutt his innjustice.

GAMEADDICTX1
GAMEADDICTX1

I think that this is a law that is good, but one that should be taken .seriously Like if a 14 year old kid wants to play GTA: San Andreas, I can under stand a no. But it may be some thing else if a 8 year old whats to play Shadow the Hedgehog thats E10+. Personally, I think this law is a load of crap.

nirbheek
nirbheek

very well put vscalar, your first post befets its postion as the first post

ddealer21
ddealer21

I dont particularly care about the proposed law, but what I dont understand is how can mr. terminator sign off on this law. Its not like he made Kindergarden Cop learn to count to 10 every video game he has profited off is quite violent.

secily
secily

The bill will be terminated.

SonnyF
SonnyF

This law come from the man who made violence. THE TERMANATER, the man who could kill a preador and the man who's head blow up in space. He's probley mad because all the games he's in suck.

iltopop
iltopop

When I was a kid, a store person let me buy Perfect Dark. My mom flipped and eventually got the person fired. However, she had no problem with me playing the game, just the fact that I was able to buy it on my own. That is what the problem is, not following store code. Federal regulation is a bit too much, minors get into R Rated movies all the time, but people arn't crying for regulation of that.

manueldude44
manueldude44

What JockDarkSide said is right, no law should take responsibility for what a parent has to decide. It truly makes no sense making laws against video games because it truly is the parents choice to decide what their children will buy.

Quasar14
Quasar14

horray for the constitution

alexelgris
alexelgris

I think that one important question is: can lil

Golden_Helmet
Golden_Helmet

YEA!!!!!!!!! GO CALI!! GOT SOMETHING RIGHT FOR A CHANGE!! W00T!!!! :D

Scorpion16
Scorpion16

Finally the 9th circuit makes a ruling I can agree with. This controversey is just a repeat of the rap music scandal of the 90s. It's only a matter of time before they find a new medium to blame for siociety's problem. This law is also a first step to eroding our constitution. I also think that Arnold is a sell out hypocrite for signing this. How can he go from starring in extremely violent R-rated movies to signing a law like this? To compare violent games to ciggerretes and alcohol is frankly just stupid because both of those are harmful substances. As for R-rated movies, that's only in place because the clerks just turn people away. Also not all theaters do that and that still doesn't stop kids from getting in anyway. These laws are stupid and gross wastes of money. Also if these laws pass, Jackass Thompson wins/

Game-o_O
Game-o_O

I'm glad you all think that the parents should be deciding everything a kid does [not]. The law defends the kids NOT the game company. Kids are allowed to buy materal thats not of there age [unless they are porn/cigurette/liquor store]. --- If the kid doesn't know reality from fantasy its the parents fault to begin with. Thats why I believe we should be prosocuting the parents of the children that make heiness crimes. --- [How many people do you know would do a crime if they knew their parents would get in trouble ;)]

nathanthegame
nathanthegame

i agree that parents should be the ones watchin what their kids play but they cant watch them all the time. I agree with the restrictions only on the bounds that little kids should not be playin games that are 2 old for them.Now i think that if parents know that thier own kids are not gonna go crazy and copy the things they see on a game it would be up 2 the parents decision 2 let them play more higher games. Rules are made for a reason .....not just 2 be broken. Parenting is the way how 2 solve the problem, but since a they are a few badd apples who cant tell the difference between real and fantasy. They spoil it for all other true gamers of all ages.

Teardrop000
Teardrop000

It aggravates me to see that the government is pushing for control over yet another cornerstone of modern entertainment,perhaps the most popular.They have control over television,theaters and just about everything else,and now they want to have an influence on the gaming industry as well.It's clear that the gaming world is only a pawn for re-election and higher office in the eyes of politicians such as Gov.Arnold Schwarzenegger.However, I am pleased to see the re-occuring outcome as of late.

Geek12
Geek12

there countering them selves! First they all complain about how video games are bad ect ect ect. Then sombody tries to jump in and do somthing about it, then there like, no you cant have this law its uncontitutional!

Jeff4ever
Jeff4ever

But hey I mean you cant Fight the government.I think that Arnold is a Good governer but Y do that when they have Parents to watch over them!!!

Necriscoth
Necriscoth

Funny how everyone is quick to scream unconstitutional when it's not something they want, and the reverse for something they do want. "Thank God for judges who understand the Constitution." Please. I bet if those same judges ruled against something you were for, you would be screaming that the judges don't understand it. Don't be so quick about to use that over-rated phrase. And as to this topic, I agree it is ultimately up to the parents to regulate what their children watch and play. I'm a father of a 6 year old, and I don't want her watching stuff like Power Rangers and such. She plays Barbie games and 2nd grade educational games on my computer. She is in bed when my wife and I watch our shows. As she gets older, she could watch different stuff. I agree the government shouldn't tell me what my kid can and cannot watch, that's my job. However, the ESRB and retailers using the ratings to decide if they are going to sell some 15 year old a "M" rated game without a parent's consent is a helping hand. If the parent doesn't know the kid is going to go buy that game with thier friends at the mall or whatever, how can they say "no". And all of you teenie boppers out there probably think parents say "no", just to make your life miserable. Well, if they are good parents and they love you, they worry about what kind of stuff you get into. So give them some slack and at least ask what thier reasons are before you stomp off screaming foul.

Data463
Data463

This boggles my mind. I understand that We the People want to keep the government out of our lives as much as possible. I agree totally that parental responsibility needs to be enforced, but we live in an age of absolutely shitty parents-- parents who think raising a child means throwing them in front of the tube with a microwave dinner. We get clueless parents backing the insane likes of Jack Thompson when they, themselves, are the ones who purchased GTA:SA for little Johnny without making themselves aware of the content. So the law is unconstitutional. Fair enough. So, why don't retailers exercise their free-market right to make sales of certain games to minors against store policy? Stupid parents will never go away, and it's unfortunate that we need laws to compensate for their incompetence.

MagickB3ats
MagickB3ats

All I can say is, drugs, music, and porn has perverted us children, and yet these politicians waste their time on video games? What's the point? That is, if they have one.

JoeCrook
JoeCrook

take the power back! I'm so sick of the goverment trying to limit our freedom of speech. This is why I dropped out of Law.

rbfinnegan
rbfinnegan

In other worlds dino dude he ment that this rule is only for parents to decide what their children should be playing , it is already illegal for a teenager to buy rated m games and this law enforces the punishment that the people selling rated m games to teens have more of a punishment and children beeing fined.

SlowMotionKarma
SlowMotionKarma

First, just cause Arnold made R movies doesn' t mean he should want everyone to watch them. Same goes for games. Just cause I buy San Andreas doesn't mean I want my minor relatives playing it. Second, politicians are only doing this for their own popularity, it has nothing to do with protecting minors. They did the same with every other form of media at one time or another. Third, games have a ratings system. The problem is, it's not enforced. People under 17 "should" have to have their parents buy the games. Just like movies, under 17 "should" have to have their parents buy the tickets. I'm happy to see more and more vendors enforcing this, but it's still not enough. They all have to. Fourth, parents SHOULD be the ones responsible for their children but, like many others here have stated, not all parents are. That's why there needs to be some form (the one above) of restriction placed on what those kids can get their hands on. Fifth, someone/some people said there should be more measures made to educate parents about the ratings system. I wholeheartedly agree. SIxth, as far as games being an outlet or an influence, it all depends on the individual. I find it to be an outlet, and I enjoy quite a few games with killing and other illegal activities in it. But I know it's wrong, and I'm pretty much against real violence in any form. Not everyone is like that, and just because the "majority" of people "surveyed" or "studied" don't exhibit signs of influence doesn't mean ALL that play games won't be influenced. Limit what content is allowed in a videogame=unconstitutional. Limit what can be sold to a minor.=Vendors restricting sale of M games. Using the "honor" system to let parents decide=naive Kids being influenced by games=Merely one of many factors contributing to their behavior