ESA, EMA, ECA hail Supreme Court decision

Publisher, retailer, and consumer trade groups react to demise of California's violent game restriction law.

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The US Supreme Court today declared California's 2005 law seeking to ban sales of violent games to minors unconstitutional, and retailers, publishers, and gamers alike are welcoming the news. Entertainment Software Association president and CEO Michael Gallagher called the ruling "a historic and complete win for the First Amendment and the creative freedom of artists and storytellers everywhere."

The ESA is hailing the Supreme Court's decision as a victory for the game industry.
The ESA is hailing the Supreme Court's decision as a victory for the game industry.

"Today, the Supreme Court affirmed what we have always known--that free speech protections apply every bit as much to video games as they do to other forms of creative expression like books, movies, and music. The Court declared forcefully that content-based restrictions on games are unconstitutional; and that parents, not government bureaucrats, have the right to decide what is appropriate for their children."

He added, "It is time for elected officials to stop wasting time and public funds seeking unconstitutional restrictions on video games. Instead, we invite them to join with us to raise awareness and use of the highly effective tools that already exist to help that parents choose games suitable for their children."

In a statement released shortly after the ruling, Entertainment Merchants Association president and CEO Bo Andersen welcomed the decision.

"We are gratified that our position that the law violates the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of expression has been vindicated and there now can be no argument whether video games are entitled to the same protection as books, movies, music, and other expressive entertainment," Andersen said.

Andersen added that the victory in court doesn't mean parental concerns about their children playing violent games are unfounded. He touted the Entertainment Software Ratings Board's rating system as a useful tool to keep such games out of kids' hands, saying that retailers have a responsibility to prevent children from purchasing such titles without parental permission. He noted that June has been declared Entertainment Ratings & Labeling Awareness Month by various trade bodies.

As for gamers, the Entertainment Consumer Association, the group released a preliminary statement, noting that it will follow up further after reading through the Justice's full ruling.

"We are thrilled by today's news," said Jennifer Mercurio, ECA VP & general counsel. "We had hoped that we would see this decision, and it's been a long time coming. That being said, there will probably be one or two legislators who attempt to test these new parameters, and the ECA will continue to fight for the rights of entertainment consumers."

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