Oklahoma game-law injunction permanent

Judge rules First Amendment protection of interactive entertainment sacrosanct, forever foiling so-called "games-as-porn" bill.

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Following up on last October's preliminary stay against Oklahoma HB3004, United States District Judge Robin Cauthron has issued a permanent injunction on the bill that would classify violent games in the same category as pornography. The bill, which was signed into law last June by Democratic Governor Brad Henry, was ruled to be unconstitutional in that video games are to be classified as a form of creative expression that is protected under the First Amendment.

Oklahoma's HB3004 revised the state's definition of what is harmful to minors to include games with "inappropriate violence." Under the law, no person, not even a minor's parents or guardians, would be allowed to give or show them an inappropriately violent game. Retailers would also not be able to have such games on display where minors could see them, unless the lower two-thirds of the boxes were hidden behind "blinder racks," of the sort commonly used for sexually explicit magazines.

In her decision, Judge Cauthron reiterated many of the talking points visited by game-rights supporters. She noted that no "substantial evidence" exists that video games are inherently harmful to minors. "[T]here is a complete dearth of legislative findings, scientific studies, or other rationale to support passage of the Act," she wrote in her ruling. Judge Cauthron also noted that interactivity didn't alter the legal status of games. "The presence of increased viewer control and interactivity does not remove these games from the release of First Amendment protection," Judge Cauthron wrote.

Accordingly, Judge Cauthron also took issue with the fact that minors can legally access other forms of media that share common themes in games. "[Minors prevented from buying games with] 'inappropriate violence' may still legally buy or rent the book or movie on which the game was based," she wrote.

This week's ruling reflects other legal wranglings undertaken by the Entertainment Software Association against various state legislatures. In July 2006, a Minnesota judge ruled that a law that would fine minors $25 for purchasing M-for-Mature-rated games was unconstitutional. Later that year in November, a Louisiana judge issued a permanent injunction against a law framed similarly around current obscenity statues that would limit the sale of violent games to minors. The ESA has also countered antigame laws in Illinois and Michigan, among other states. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently appealed a judge's ruling that struck down a similar law.

Discussion

85 comments
masterfarticus
masterfarticus

Wont this all stop when the people in congress are from our generations who play games themselves?

Kurzicide
Kurzicide

This happened in Oklahoma? I never noticed until now. I'm glad it didn't pass. +1 for ESA.

playstation_wii
playstation_wii

At least they can still buy them. :| This really sucks though. We want justice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :x

UnrealPro
UnrealPro

When will these idiotic politicians learn...oh I know, when they are stomped at re-election for blowing tax dollars.

Sexy_Pirate
Sexy_Pirate

Every single comment here has been said before, you are enlightening no one.

SneakyB986
SneakyB986

what would stop parents from buying them even if it was illegal? most don't buy into this **** and would just let the damn kid play.

thekey
thekey

Victory, for now..

JonnyNemesis
JonnyNemesis

Kudos to Robin Cauthron for reminding Oklahomans what the term "personal responsibility" means.

Dman4Life1217
Dman4Life1217

Why do we need a law to give the parents power that they already have? Parents need to wake up and watch what their kids are playing, listening to, or watching instead of trying to blame everyone but themselves when the kid gets ahold of something that they don't approve of. Hell, most kids aged 7 - 16 don't even have their own money, nor their own means of transportation to and from places to buy games. And being a former manager at an EB, I can honestly say 95% of game sales for a kid, where when the parent was present, and the Kid would just hand a box to the parent and the parent would come up and say "Do you have this one?" not knowing what it was. So parents need to wake up, stop attempting to be their kids' friend, and stop blaming everyone else for their parenting shortcomings. It's time for yaw'll to step up and learn what it means to be a parent, and sometimes that means lifting your head up out from your own personal world and see what your kid is up to. You may just thank yourself and save some tax dollars in the end.

zaphod_b
zaphod_b

First movies, then music, now games. This too shall pass. At most the government will require some additional sticker warning parents of what the ESRB is already trying to tell them, and that will be it.

V-Nine
V-Nine

.....wake me when they say video games are actually alien (ie government) subliminal mind control.

dechristo
dechristo

Maybe it is just me but the government is going against games across the world the ban of manhunt 2 this and every things else

qiwihead
qiwihead

Omfg, when will these pandering mofos stop with these inane laws? How many times do they have to be ruled unconstitutional before they finally give up? Sheesh!!!

tclvis
tclvis

One small step for gamerkind, one giant step for the Constitution. Thank you, your honor.

CrushedGroove
CrushedGroove

This is such a big breakthrough on this whole "violent video game ban". If this law would have passed, large retailers in Oklahoma would not have carried video games at all. The industry is really starting to take off, and this could have been a huge setback to the developers, publishers, and gamers alike. Such a relief that there are still law makers out there with at least half of a brain. DrCLos, I share your plight. I manage a local video game store, and parents continuously purchase games that are inappropriate for their kids. I had a mother buy God of War II for her six year old son, even after I explained all of the mature content it contained. Too many parents are treating video games like a virtual babysitter, and its pathetic that because they are horrible parents, we the gamers are forced to suffer. Anyway, as I said...big win for games and gamers, but I'll shut up now. :)

Thanos_of_MW
Thanos_of_MW

The problem is that politicians see the growing game industry as a large cash cow they don't get kickbacks from, like the video and music industry. I'm glad to see that judges have the wisdom to throw these stupid laws out, as they have no merit. Parenting is the job of parents, not the government.

thatguy0130
thatguy0130

When will people learn if your looking for an easy fight to gain credit to your name, gaming is not it. All these people trying their hardest to restrict video game sales are wasting their time. No one will ever be able to stop the flow of games just as no one can stop minors from playing them. As much as I hate the idea of minors playing M rated games, they play them, just as they watch R rated movies. Kids can do whatever they want. Thats the sad fact.

life4hire
life4hire

Like the license plate says: Everything is OK in Oklahoma .. yeah right! Come on, when are parents going to be parents and stop blaming everyone else for their screwed up kids and lack of parenting.

DrCLos
DrCLos

It's usually the parents fault when violent games come into the hands of minors. I work at Best Buy and many parents buy games (usually M-rated) for their kids. The last one I sold was a copy of 300 for the PSP for what appeared to be a 9-year-old. I informed the parent about the rating but he said it was okay for his child. I have NEVER seen a parent say no to an M-rated game for his or her child.

dbeddow
dbeddow

Truely a video game victory! But, what I'm mad about is all the money and time all of these people are wasting trying to pursue this subject. Just wait till we, us gamers (guessing 35-38 yrs old and below right now), are in some sort of political position. That person who supports video games will be very popular!! Because, seriously by then, there will be plenty of video game supporting votes out there.

devilmaycry2020
devilmaycry2020

This wil just make them want to play them more and more....

ketsuatama
ketsuatama

Well done, Judge! Your intelligence truly eclipses the collective intelligence of your state legislators!

ibanezdropd
ibanezdropd

do they really think these laws are going to stop underage children from playing these games?? do laws stop underage drinking? not really...

slim-jim69
slim-jim69

Won't somebody please think of the childeren!!!!! ;-) Anyone know how to get into contact with that judge just to say thanks?

pungent231
pungent231

The level of misconception about how violent games are put into the hands of minors confounds me.... Honestly, who hasn't heard the stories of parents who buy their six year old child next gen consoles, and then go out to purchase any game aforementioned child chooses? The government should not be worrying about selling M-rated games to minor as much as they should be running campaigns to stop the purchasing of M-rated games by parents who have no idea what the game is about, and sometimes do not even care. If everyone is so worried about this, why not run a stupid ad campaign like the "do" ones. If we are going to spend millions of dollars in order to get our nation in better shape physically, couldn't they just address the gaming issue in a similar fasion? Then the parents would be the official ones to blame - not just the ones everyone knows to blame. This would take some pressure off the game industries, and it would also cut down on the horribly aggravating chlidren with mics. You all know what I mean. You have all heard that whiny nine year old yelling over the mic because you killed him and he now labels you as a noob, using as much profanity as possible. Logically, you would think if someone got killed by someone else, the dead one would be noobier But anyways, the parents being the official ones to blame would actually get the government off th backs of the gaming industry and on the backs of spoiling parents.

codemaster008
codemaster008

Yeah, I live in Oklahoma and all I gotta say is our Governor is an idiot. The problem with violence in kids starts with how they are brought up; *cough* "parents". He want's tax payers to pay for abortions too. The people voted against it and he vetoed the vote. That pissed me off. Pretty soon the people won't have any rights left. The governor will eventually try to limit the amount of tv we watch or the amount of time we can be on the internet. Things are deffinitely getting out of control. Thank God that we still have a few good Judges left.

kratos_karmakar
kratos_karmakar

MU HA HA HA i dont live in us MU HA HA HA that being said even tho the 10 ammendments r a plus to american citizens its also killing gamers.this campaign ppl( who havent ever played a single game in their sad lifetimes) r running against "creative xpressive pornographic" games r just the ways and means to get popularity. as if enforcing these laws can actually "protect" their children from anything.who am i kidding...they dont want to protect all they want is votes in the name of good will for children.this stuff wants to make me barf.

GrgSpunk
GrgSpunk

When somebody mentions the term "protecting the children" from anything, whether it be games, movies, tv, music, etc, keep one hand on your wallet, and the other on your liberties - I'm glad at least SOMEONE in our government sees this...

TAEnemy
TAEnemy

Funny that the U.S. armed forces are developing games featuring violence and weapons in order to get kids interested in signing their lives away to the government and yet at the same time we are being told that games of that nature shouldn't be sold. A game that displayed our armed forces in any REALISTIC manner would, without a doubt, get an adult rating. I'm sure they would be content to sell kids T-rated bloodless, fantasy ARMY games though. They would save the blood, guts, and torture for after they sign on the dotted line. Another thing that bothers me is Schwarzanegger's appeal. What's this guy's on-screen body count? Does he think kids don't watch his films and see him stab, shoot, blow up, beat up, and dismember other people? I am curious to hear what he has to say about that. How many "adults" threw their money into a Terminator arcade game back in the day?

diablo_del_bano
diablo_del_bano

Well the only game-selling stores that have asked me for ID are ones where the register prompts the cashier to ask for it (i.e. Walmart) Not that I'm saying that it's bad. I have no problem with minors playing violent games as long as the parents know about it and take the responsibility to watch their children. Unfortunately most parents want the various media sources to do their job for them, and as a result we get crap legislation like this.

Lee_Stricklin
Lee_Stricklin

I've been a gamer since I was three (no not just someone who plays videogames occasionally, but an actual gamer who's really into this stuff) and you don't see me in a psyche ward or on the news shooting s*** up. In my oppinion the only games that should watched are ones that violate obscenity laws (like some over-the-top murder simulater that goes into detail on how to aim a weapon in real life and force sublyminal content on you), other than that though videogames are an expression of free speech and a big chunk of them are a work of art.

cf2012
cf2012

funny how these people blame games for there kids behavior when its the damn parents not doing a good enough job.

htowngrindin
htowngrindin

Blaming games and trying to get them banned is far easier than solving real problems, like rampant government waste on frivolous matters as well as the homeless situation and outrageous costs of an education. Think the 2 are related?

MysticGenie
MysticGenie

Legislators who introduce blatantly unconstitutional bills like this should be held personally liable for the legal costs associated with striking them down.

Priest57
Priest57

I'm from Tulsa, OK and this is very welcomed news. It's hard to imagine that our own state government would actually bring up something idiotic as this. I guess that's what we get for living in the Bible belt; at least there are some level headed people in our justice system.

deth420
deth420

now if these governors would quit watseing time and money, (to just make it appear as if they are doing anything other then leeching from others) and address real issues.....like legalizing my "medical marijuana!"

mwa
mwa

thank god our courts have enough sense to strike down these pointless censorship laws

Phazevariance
Phazevariance

Good, I agree that games shouldn't be censored, since movies aren't and neither are comics, commercials (anyone see the grudge 2 commercial? It would scare the socks off my nephew of 5 years old) and since none of the other media forms are censored, games should nto be either. Otherwise they would need to censor the media, newpapers, and well. .. everyday life too.

Anhmeister
Anhmeister

If you hid the bottom two-thirds of the box...you couldn't see the ratings symbol!

JS2393
JS2393

1. I'm glad the judge has expressed something that i always take into account whenever I hear these sorts of things: games shouldn't be rated, nor restricted any different than movies. If you can show blood, guns, and tons of violence in movies, commercials, etc, then why not in game commercials and such? It's so biased. Basically, if you restrict something in one form of media, that same thing should be restricted in another. In this case however, I don't think violence should be restricted in either forms of media. 2. Parents just need to take notice on ratings, and be able to decide for themselves if their child is mature enough to handle a violent game. If a parent buys an M rated game for a 7 year old or a 14 year old with the maturity of an 11 year old, then that's the parents fault. Not all children are immature. 3. Classifying violent games under the same category as pornographic films? That's just ridiculous. It's the same thing as saying a movie full of blood and violence(ex. Terminator) should be considered porn. lmao, if they actually did this, then all I can say is that the people who decided it are a disgrace to Americans.

Anakin1092
Anakin1092

BlueFlameBat. But a few kids do, and they make the dems ruin the world for the rest of us.

BlueFlameBat
BlueFlameBat

Don't Democrats (and at least one Republican) have more important things to worry about than censorship? Most kids are not brainless enough to just imitate everything they see in video games.

X-RS
X-RS

why cant these pricks just talk tokids to see what makes them violent !IF! that is the case im sure its school/psychiatric drugs as oppused to videogames.

LadiesMan2
LadiesMan2

Ok, I didn't think that anyone in Oklahoma was stupider than the Sooner football team, but apparently the Legislature is. I mean, putting games behind a blocker shelf? That's more overboard than someone on the Titanic. I'm glad that the judge had the common sense to put an end to this nonsense. I can't understand why lawmakers want to censor games like they were a 50 Cent song. Well, we've taken another state, California is next.

ultimatlifeform
ultimatlifeform

Ugh, stupidest thing I've ever heard. I don't exactly think that these judges should have the right to declare what is "constitutional" or "unconstitutional" in the first place, but that law is still utterly ridiculous. The judge makes a clear point, too. Kids viewing this content in games is no different than them viewing it in movies or books. It's not "pornography" unless the game in question actually features pornography.

jenova
jenova

I would like to see more boobies in games, maybe then this bill might have half a leg to stand on.