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Hollywood Rallies Against California's Anti-Video Game Law

by Matthew Kato on Sep 18, 2010 at 09:46 AM

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A range of entertainment trade groups – including the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), various actor, director, and writer guilds, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and many others – have filed an amicus brief (info or testimony not solicited by either side in a legal case) in support of the video game industry as it fights California's ban against the sale of violent video games to minors.

The California law is set to go before the Supreme Court on November 2, and it will rule to uphold or strike the law down. The law, passed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2005, has already been ruled unconstitutional by the lower 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the grounds of free speech, but that has been appealed by the state.

The law would prohibit the sale of violent video games to minors, but apart from the free speech angle, it would also levy fines to offending retailers and the use of a government-mandated rating system – even though the video game trade association the ESA already has ESRB ratings.

"The fundamental lesson of the movie rating system," argues the brief by the Motion Picture Association referring to the ESRB, "is that a system of self-regulation can be sufficient, without additional government regulation, to enable parents to make informed judgments concerning the suitability of exposing their children to violent or other potentially objectionable content."

In attempting to protect the video game industry, Hollywood is naturally protecting itself, as passage of the law could open the floodgates to similar laws aimed at other media and the imposition of de-facto censorship on media and entertainment.