BREAKING - Miami Court Orders Take-Two to Turn Over "Bully"

October 11, 2006 -
GamePolitics has just received a short e-mail from Jack Thompson:
"The court ordered production of the game by tomorrow at 3pm, for his full review of the game while it is being played, up to or more than 100 hours."

"This is unprecedented and reasonable as well.  This is a huge victory against the violent video game industry, regardless of the ultimate ruling on the injunction.  I anticipate an immediate appeal to the Third DCA by Take-Two"

Thompson is referencing Florida's Third District Court of Appeal.  He is correct that the ruling is unprecedented, although in the long run it's really not a win if it gets overturned on appeal.

GP has confirmed with Judge Friedman's clerk that Thompson's version is correct. She added that the Judge will view the game in chambers beginning tomorrow afternoon and is prepared to spend several days watching its content.

The clerk added that the hearing was not contentious, and that it was covered by the Miami Herald as well as a local TV news crew.

What this means is that Judge Ronald Friedman is saying he needs to see Bully in order to rule on Thompson's claim that the game is a "public nuisance." He's given Take-Two 24 hours to produce it for the court's review.

Destructoid has a nice report from their man-on-the-scene...

Comments

I'm a little suprised by this ruling, however, what Mr. Thompson was asking for was not completely unreasonable. The Court may have granted his motion based on his pleadings and the experts, but I'm sure it also boils down to the fact that Mr. Thompson was probably much more prepared than the Take-Two attorneys. I'm not sure how seriously Take-Two took this hearing, but I'm certain Mr. Thompson had everything lined up. Good preparation will always win a case. If I were Take-Two, I would take all threats from the Government, or any Attorney, including Mr. Thompson, very very seriously. I'm still not convinced they are taking anything seriously, and these are the guys that, in many ways, brought us to the point we are today in terms of legislation and the current problems that are cursing the game industry as a whole.

Overall, this sets a very creepy precedent, and it is one I think everyone should worry about, and I think we'll begin to see much more of this in the future.

Whether the game gets banned as a nuisance is a different story (which is ultimately where Mr. Thompson will probably take this), none-the-less, being orderd to provide the product to the Court for some sort of judicial review before release is a scary, scary thing, no matter how reasonable it may be.

@konrad_arflane

Yes, there is precedent. Check out GP's link on "prior restraint". BUT the US Supreme Court put down rather strict rules on when prior restraint can be used. This is a dubious use, and hopefully the judge will see it as such and toss the whole thing, thus setting the precedent preventing further action against video games (in Florida anyway).

@Grahamr

I'm guessing TT didn't take up Larry's offer...

100 hours? Why so long? Judging by the game so far, after maybe 11 hours (at the most), you'd already have gotten through the main story gotten all the unlockables and found most of the easter eggs.

Oh yeah I just thought of something, what if Rockstar put a parody of Jack Thompson into the game somehow (like you do something violent or the school goes into chaos and a lawyer blames it all on video games). That would mean that Jack Thompson would have to sit there (silently) while he is made fun of in the video game.

@Jabrwock

I'm sorry for my wording but what I was refering to the Jack's "it has to be me that decides whether the game is or is not appropriate for children" I was relieved that is will be the judge deciding if it's a public nuisance and not Jack Thompson.

I don't think that the judge made any ruling yet Andrew. I think that he wants to see what the hoopla is really all about. This is going to be more to thompson's detriment than helping him or even in his favor.

A prediction

Let's begin the search!
Four days later, nothing found
You loose. Play again?

I hope that by "view the game's content" the judge means "play the game or watch someone play it rather than see a video of the violent bits with all the other stuff cut out".

It's also nice that the game got a "T" in a kind of twisted fashion, because now critics will howl and whine over how the bloodbath of the century got a "T" from the corrupt ESRB, and people will pick up or watch the game to see what the fuss is all about, and find absolutely nothing. This is of course an idealized scenario, but one can dream.

Anyone think Take-Two is playing along, the publicity that's being generated for the game is priceless...

I don't find the actions of the judge to be off base. Hell, I think the whole thing suggests that he recognizes games as a form of speech (on some level). While he may have some personal bias, he seems to be following the process that would be followed with any other medium that is normally protected via the First Amendment. If the complaint was about a book, a CD or a movie, it wouldn't be unreasonable to see/read/hear the material before it's streetdate. In fact, if there is the chance that it might be deemed unacceptible, then it's ideal to try to get the choice made before it's available to the public.

Really, I doubt Rockstar has any true problem with it, since copies have probably gone out for reviews and things like that, and since the game is complete, there can be no accusing them of altering the product or holding things back from the media.

Of course, I doubt it will matter either way to Jack. If he fails here, he'll just continue until he wins, shouting his nonsense the entire way, and if he wins, God help us, he'll continue on a larger scale, shouting his nonsense the entire way.

He's like the goddamn energizer bunny. It's best to just ignore him.

I bet he want to play the game without paying for it. :p

While the judge's bite-back on the Destructoid article bothers me a bit (come to think of it, calling in a TT guy to play through for the Judge sounds a bit like what Brownback wants, hey?), I thought Thompson's slingshot bit was a bit childish, no pun intended. Bringing in a slingshot just to show how something seemingly innocent could be dangerously harmful may get high marks in an English Lit. class, but it's almost sad that he has to resort to representation to get a defense across. Then again, I could be wrong and it could be a brilliant maneuver.

Still worried about the time constraint, though. I hope the judge won't get impatient and rule on what's already been played through. Also, I hope the guy playing it through for the judge will explain the elements of the game as well, so there won't be any ignorance or bias for either side of the case. Gah, paranoia...

this is far more exiting then the typical"Censors file law,law gets destroyed by judge" scenario. this one has more plot twists and intriguing characters to bring to the table.

Kotaku has another take:

"The clerk I spoke to (dug up after co-sleuthing with Dennis over on GP) told me that the judge did not order the review of the game, but that Take-Two offered to bring the game in on Thursday at 3 p.m. so he could see for himself what all of the noise is about."

A word on Thompson’s slingshot stunt:

Absurd

So what if he brought a potentially lethal weapon into the courtroom? What does that prove? If I were the defense lawyer I would have said, “So did I!” and held up my pen. Just because I show you how to kill someone with a pen doesn’t mean your going to do it.

Besides, it’s not like Bully is going to teach kids what a slingshot is. All kids (especially Boy Scouts) know what a slingshot is and it’s not like no other video game character uses such a ruthless weapon. Link from Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda games uses them and he’s younger than Jimmy Hopkins is.

Kids have been using slingshots before video games. Why I can think of a Mark Twain protagonist who wields just such a device.


Andrew Eisen

I say roockstar should announce a sequel to "Box Stacker: A game that will not offend anyone"

The Judge indicated that he will take however long it takes to see the game played in its entirety."

So does that mean he's gonna relax watching the game when he should be doing judge work? No matter what anyone with a brain can see jack thompson declaring unsuitable for minors along with the ignorant judge, since he ruled in his favor. Why does a lawyer get exclusive rights to play a game just because he has a big mouth?

I say anything less then having rainbows in place of bats, slingshots, and dunking a "black" student in a dirty toilet. If you don't know, on G4 Thompson emphasize on saying "black student" when refering to a swirly. A atempt to get a ethnic group angry and then be exploited? You be the judge.

That is my rant I would like to see people's predictions on the outcome

Another awesome victory for the nanny state.. Don't it make you proud to pay your taxes?

You've got it all wrong:

Judge: Hey.. about that video game.. I need a copy
[... recieves copy ...]
Judge: Yo, dudes.. you know that new video game?
Dudes: yeah..
Judge: I just got a copy.. and 4 days to play it before I 'issue my judgement'
Dudes: rock on judge
Judge: yup.. y'know what else I've got?
Dudes: nope
Judge: you know that so-called "felony posession" case that just ended..
Dudes: yup
Judge: well.. I guess I know where the 'evidence' is going
Dudes: Rock on!! 4 Days of Stoned Atari bliss.. I'll bring the pizza
and the spray air freshener for yer 'chamberz'.. Whats up with that baliff chick and that hooker that you 'found innocent' last month?

I seems that can't type this morning. Let me restate that last comment:

We both know that it won’t prevent every minor from getting their hands on mature material, but it would go a long way towards preventing our industry from being regarded as irresponsible (or worse) by those who don’t understand it. Right now, this [no legal prevention of minors accessing mature material] is a weak link in our defense against those who would seek to ban video game sales altogether.

At least, that is my opinion.

"However, there are almost no respectable retail outlets that will allow a minor to purchase an R-rated (or above) movie - or to see an R-rated film at a theater, for that matter"

Not true. In fact, an FTC study showed that enforcement for R-rated DVD sales is actually WORSE than enforcement for M-rated movies (my kingdom for a link to that study).

@anaki21:
I stand corrected about my comment on the limitations of movie purchases.

However, there are almost no respectable retail outlets that will allow a minor to purchase an R-rated (or above) movie - or to see an R-rated film at a theater, for that matter. I have not personally witnessed the same situation when it comes to videogame stores.

While I saw a problem with limiting sales of mature games to minors when I was a minor, now that I'm an adult, I don't. I no longer see the big problem with treating mature rated games (and movies, for that matter) the same way we treat alcohol and pornography.

We both know that it won't prevent every minor from getting their hands on mature material, but it would go a long towards our industry being regarded as irresponsible (or worse) by those who don't understand it. Right now, this [no legal prevention of minors accessing mature material] is a weak link in our defense against those who would seek to ban video game sales altogether.

At least, that is my opinion.

@aniki21

The problem is that the judge agreed to review the game. Even if he gives the game a favourable review it still establishes the fact that the court has given itself the power to review media. It does not stop at simply videogames, either. Any creative content could potentially be brought before a judge before it is released. An insanse mother in Kansas could potentially attempt to get a judge to look at the last Harry Potter book before it is actually released in the states to determine if it will create satanists out of children in the state. It applies to all forms of entertainment. Regardless of how Judge Friedman rules, the simple fact is that the court should not have that power.

Jack Thompson is pointing a finger and saying, "public nuisance." Punchline unneccesary.

.....

Im shocked. Really badly shocked.

This is a huge victory against the violent video game industry

Because you know, it's always a victory when someone forces a discovery of facts... ???

The court ordered production of the game by tomorrow at 3pm, for his full review of the game while it is being played, up to or more than 100 hours.

So the judge is going to play the game non-stop for 4 days straight? Or does he expect a ruling sometime next month?

I anticipate an immediate appeal to the Third DCA by Take-Two

Why not? You're harrassing them in court. It's their right to ask the court to back off...

Oh wait, I forgot JT only likes courts of appeal if HE's on the loosing side...

@ IanC

I'm not surprised. The judge likely wants to see just how full of it JT is. Right now it's JT's word against TT's that Bully is the bloodbath simulator of the century. The judge just wants to see for himself. It's not uncommon.

Either that, or the judge went "Sweet, I've been looking to score an advance copy for MONTHS!"

I kind of expected this.

I'm not surprised. It's actually what I expected. Getting a copy of the game is a fair request in the context of the lawsuit. Denying Jack access would virtually guarantee an appeal on the ruling. The fact that Rockstar didn't just give him a copy is mostly just down to the adversarial nature of the legal system. You don't just give your opponent anything. You wait for a court order.

I will be surprised if in the end the suit is successful. In the long run, unless Rockstar have been massively covering up game content, I don't see this helping Jack. If the previews are accurate, he's still getting a game that is nothing like what he says it is.

Wedgies, Indian burns, swirlies and slingshots do not a Columbine simulator (nor a public nuisance) make. No matter how much you try to spin it.

OT: Considering the open nature of the game (apparently even more open than GTA), if I had a kid in high school, I'd jump at the chance to give them this game. It might give me more insight into how they act at their actual school. Do they bully kids, or do they stand up for them?

Now ive thought about it yes it makes sense, the judge has only his word right now so he need proof. Of course JT will overhype this, which im not looking forward to

Interest Wiki article. It mentions that in 1931 the US Supreme Court declared that "prior restraint" (requiring government oversight of published media) illegal unless national security was at risk. (this concept was upheld in 1976)

"The statute in question cannot be justified by reason of the fact that the publisher is permitted to show, before injunction issues, that the matter published is true and is published with good motives and for justifiable ends."

As much as we don't like Jack, it's really nice of him to keep us updated on these events. ;P

What would be extremely interesting would be if Take Two decided not to appeal, on the basis that the court would find nothing in the content of the game that supported Mr. Thompson's claims.

They may appeal simply on principle, but the whether or not this sets a precendent for the court, there is nothing to say that Take Two could not appeal a simaler dicision in the future, even if they choose not to appeal this one.

Hang fire... is the judge getting a copy of Bully, or is Jack? I initially read it as Jack, but now I read it as the judge.

If it's the judge, then Jack's chances are even worse. If the judge can sit there and actually know firsthand when Jack is dropping BS, his case is toast.

Actually, now that I read more on "prior restraint" in the US, it's not that outrageous a request. HOWEVER, the court can only use valid restrictions on the 1st Amendment to prevent it's release at that point (incitement to riot, obscenity, etc).

Affecting people's morals doesn't cut it.

@Scoops

From what I understand, it would have to be the judge who saw a copy. Otherwise how would he rule whether the game qualifies as a "public nuisance"? If he relied on JT's judgement, it would be an automatic conflict, because JT's the plaintiff...

The best part is, he doesn't need to show JT any of it.

If you think about it, this really is not that terrifying an announcent, and It actually indicates that the judge is taking the case fairly seriously. All we can hope is that the game contains nothing the court would find objectionable. Based on the recent trailers, one has to assume this is the case.

So... do they get one multiple people to play the game for a collective total of 100 hours, or does just one person play it for the same amount of time?

Does the state pay the 100 hours worth of salary to the person(s) who do this?

Also, Rockstar has to ho this by 3PM tomorrow... so if they got it at 3PM, and played non-stop for 100 hours of gameplay, Then they would be done at 7 PM Monday, which is the night before the offical release date...

I doubt that they will finish those 100 hours before offical release. By then, I'll actually have the game...

On the face of it, it sounds like the Judge is either going to play the game, or have it played while he looks on. Either way, it sounds like he's going to seriously review the content, which should mean that he will realize whow wrong Jacky boy is.

So… do they get one multiple people to play the game for a collective total of 100 hours, or does just one person play it for the same amount of time?

I'd imagine that one or more of the judge's interns will be having a fun week.

Does the state pay the 100 hours worth of salary to the person(s) who do this?

Yeah, I'd assume so.
OVERTIME! /NBA Jam announcer ;)

Also, Rockstar has to ho this by 3PM tomorrow… so if they got it at 3PM, and played non-stop for 100 hours of gameplay, Then they would be done at 7 PM Monday, which is the night before the offical release date…

I doubt that they will finish those 100 hours before offical release. By then, I’ll actually have the game…


Ultimately, the release date isn't really the judge's concern. The fact that Jack waited so long to bring his suit is his own fault. Maybe he was trying to pressure the legal system, but the judge doesn't seem to be going for it.

In order for the Judge to issue and injunction of some sort or attempt to exercise prior restraint, he has to be satisfied that the claim ahs merit. So if he hasn't issued at least a temporary decision, then t means he's unwilling to do so until he see "actual" evidence, rather then the kind Jack is used to providing.

In order for the Judge to issue and injunction of some sort or attempt to exercise prior restraint, he has to be satisfied that the claim ahs merit. So if he hasn't issued at least a temporary decision, then t means he's unwilling to do so until he see "actual" evidence, rather then the kind Jack is used to.

GP has confirmed with Judge Friedman’s clerk that Thompson’s version is correct. She added that the Judge will view the game in chambers beginning tomorrow afternoon and is prepared to spend several days watching its content.

Sounds like Judge Friedman is going to have one happy intern helping him...

Also sounds like Judge Friedman has an OBSCENE amount of free time to devote to this case...

Really, the judge just doesn't want to wait until the 17th...

Are we going to have to do this for every upcoming 'controversial' game? It's a big clusterf*%& of a political football. So rediculous. I want to stop paying my taxes for this shit right now.

One assumes that Judges will be wary of similar actions being initiated my Mr. Thompson, once the frivolous nature of his claims are established.

Here are some of my notes:

http://www.destructoid.com/judge-to-take-two-produce-bully-at-3pm-and-il...

I'll get you some more details later. What the heck is your email address here? Ping me, brother :)

@myrpok

But that's why I want to go into politics or become a judge. That way I can play video games before they're released. In the name of the public good, of course.

@Niero

Thanks for the update! Although it sounds like the judge is a bit... anxious? Refusing to wait until TT had been issued the proper paperwork demanding a copy? I mean, it sounds like TT is complying anyway, but wtf?
 
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