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California Appeals Video Game Restriction Decision

20 May, 2009 By: Billy Gil

The state of California is appealing the decision in VSDA v. Schwarzenegger that deemed a law signed in 2005 by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger prohibiting the sale and rental of “violent video games” to people under the age of 18 unconstitutional.

The law in question, Chapter 638 of California Statutes of 2005, was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1, 2006, but was held up after the Video Software Dealers Association (now the Entertainment Merchants Association, or EMA) and the Entertainment Software Association filed a lawsuit asserting that the law violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to freedom of expression and equal protection of the laws and that the law is unconstitutionally vague. Although the EMA says it does not support the sale or rental of “Mature”-rated video games to people under age 17, it says the law is unnecessary, interfering with voluntary ratings education and enforcement, as well as goes against legal precedent on such matters of selling/renting violent video games and provides no meaningful standards by which to judge such games.

“It boggles the mind that, on a day when the state of California finds itself in the worst fiscal crisis it has ever faced and is considering massive layoffs of teachers and cuts to public services, the state would choose to waste tens of thousands of dollars on pursuing this frivolous appeal,” said Sean Bersell, VP of public affairs for EMA. “This law was found by two lower courts, relying on long-established legal precedents, to be unconstitutional as an infringement of the First Amendment. … There is no reason to expect a different outcome in the Supreme Court.”


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