In a 7 to 2 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held up the lower court’s decision on Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association. The Californian law would have made selling violent video games to minors illegal, required a warning sticker on the package of all violent games with fines retailers up to $1,000 for each infraction.
“Like the protected books, plays, and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas-and even social messages-through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot, and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world), wrote Justice Scalia in the majority opinion. That suffices to confer First Amendment protection. Under our Constitution, ‘esthetic and moral judgments about art and literature . . . are for the individual to make, not for the Government to decree, even with the mandate or approval of a majority’.”
Game consumers, developers and publishers all applauded the decision, as did a chorus of representative agencies from around the entertainment industry. EMA welcomes today s Supreme Court ruling that let stand the Court of Appeals decision finding the California video game restriction law to be unconstitutional, said Bo Andersen, CEO of Entertainment Merchants Association. 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.
This is a historic and complete win for the First Amendment and the creative freedom of artists and storytellers everywhere, announced Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association. 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.
ESRB welcomes the Supreme Court s decision in this case, especially given its validation of the ESRB rating system as an effective and reliable tool that parents use to decide which video games are appropriate for their children and family, said Entertainment Software Rating Board president Patricia Vance. Today s decision acknowledges the value and effectiveness of the ESRB rating system, the Federal Trade Commission s positive assessment of our self-regulatory regime, and the latest research showing that game retailers overwhelmingly enforce their voluntary store policies regarding the sale of Mature-rated games. In striking this law the Court has made clear that the video game industry effectively empowers parents to be the ones to decide which games are right for their children.”