Federal Appeals Court Scheduled to Hear California Game Law Case

October 29th is shaping up as a big day for the video game industry.

On that morning, oral arguments concerning California’s contested 2005 video game law will be heard by judges of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court in Sacramento.

As GamePolitics readers may recall, the law crafted by then-Assemblyman Leland Yee restricted the sale of "ultra-violent" games to minors. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law on October 7th, 2005 but a federal court injunction blocked the measure from going into effect.

In August, 2007 U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Whyte ruled that the law was unconstitutional. Gov. Schwarzenegger, who has been enriched by his portrayal in several violent games (see pic), made the decision to appeal the ruling not long after. The actual appeal was filed in January of this year.

Given the late October time frame, a decision from the 9th Circuit won’t likely come until well into 2009.

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44 comments

  1. Nekojin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Try this for laughs:

    Try to come up with consistent, reliable definitions for, "ultra violent" (or "extreme violence") and "moderately violent" (or "moderate violence") that can be used and applied by anyone to come up with the same pigeonhole category for each game – a definition that could be used by a computer program to automatically categorize them, even.

    That’s the problem with using inflammatory, emotionally-weighted phrases like that. Different people are using them in different ways, not all meaning exactly the same thing (and sometimes not even close).

  2. PHOENIXZERO says:

    Uhh yeah? Because that would still violate the first amendment. Everyone, no matter the age, has the same rights under the constitution. Pornography falls under obscenity laws which is why it can be restricted. R or even NC-17 rated moves (for the most part) and M rated video games are not porn.

     

    Giving the government control in this sort of situation is NOT a good thing. It’s 100% up to parents and it’s not the industry’s fault when parents don’t do their job.


  3. "..." says:

    No one is saying it is 100% a good thing, but no one has proved it causes harm either. One could argue that viewing different forms of free expression, even if they are M or R rated, enriches the kid in some way that he would be prevented from if such expression were restricted.

    If by "this" you mean "legal restrictions on video games", then yes.

    Yes.

    No. Doesn’t stop them from viewing it for free on the internet, though.

    18, 16 for driving, 21 for drinking, and age of consent varies by state. I have no idea about sodomy.

    IMO, the E10+ rating was unnecessary and a T15+ rating should have been added instead. You are correct that the ESRB rating has no legal force anywhere.

  4. Adamas Draconis says:

    nope, they have all been, or are in the process of being, ruled unconstitional

     

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  5. Anonymous says:

    perhaps i’m thoroughly confused, but would everyone be complaining about this if there was a law that said that minors (those under 17, rather) weren’t allowed to see R rated movies? while it should be the parently primary responsibility, that’s what this law sounds like it does.

  6. Soulsmith says:

    Ok, what I want to know is why would selling "ultra violent" games to minors be a good thing? Is this from the same school of thought as the people who blamed the columbine masacre on music rather than the parents of the kids giving them access to assault weapons?

    Does the US allow minors to buy movies such as texas chainsaw masacre? does it allow minors to buy porn? and what age limit is a minor in the US, in the UK its pretty much 18 for everything (except "normal" sex which is 16 and possibly sodomy but I never really payed attention when the subject of lowering the age of consent on that came up in the news) is the US pretty much 21 for everything? if so I can see maybe a limit of 15 for "moderate violence" and 18 for the rest, but then again the US has no laws preventing sale of age marked products to those underage, which if present would pretty much stymie a certain lawyer who frequents these boards from letting the parents be absolved of the blame of keeping track of what their own spawn get up to.

     

    ah well, rant over…

  7. MasterAssassin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ BmK

    I suggest you go look up the story where German police raided Cryteck armed with machineguns. Also there was a proposal to jail not only the developers but the players of violent games as well. How is that not acting like a police state? A nanny state would be like Australia, in germany you can’t even display swasticas in a game even if the nazis are the enemy. Also I remember when Arnold was running for governor he said that "the older kids" remembered him from movies like "Terminator". Hmm last I checked Terminator was rated R and surely when he meant older kids he wasn’t talking about people 17 and older. Also the Terminator 3 director I believe even said that he expected young people to be part of the audience. He’s a hypocrite and if this were violent movies instead of games he would not be fighting for this failed piece of legislation which is going to be struck down anyway.

  8. PHOENIXZERO says:

    He wouldn’t be anyone without steroids either but of course that doesn’t prevent him from finding another thing to be a hypocrite on.


  9. MantisHOUND says:

    Heh, it’s like the politicians are trying to emulate the La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo, except without the nanomachines.  But since there’s no nanos to help along, the kids being "protected" are going to come out weak and uninformed.

    It would be better if all this BS could be replaced by proper parenting.

  10. PHOENIXZERO says:

    This was an old rumor from years ago, there’s no truth to it. Top that off with the fact that Flair knows that the media and the opposing party would rip him to shreads with all the dirt he has on him and personal (and financial failures) that just show how much of an idiot he is.


  11. MasterAssassin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    "I’d like to point out, that restricting sales to minors based on ratings by a non-government entity and treating certain games the same as porn is a good description of what we do here in Germany."

    And that’s precisely why I would never want to live in Germany it’s about as close to a police state without the public hangings and secret police.

    "I live in the UK and we already have laws in place to stop children buying 18 and 15 rated games. It’s also the stores that take the flak when they fail "Age Related Sales" stings. I’d hardly call the UK a fascist society."

    Yes and your one step closer to becoming a police state because of that. We in the U.S are very sensitive about our freedoms being restricted and we don’t like any restriction on our rights whatsoever, espicially by a bunch out of touch politicians who really want to force thier agendas on the public.

    I truely lost respect for Arnold durring this. He made millions of dollars off of violent action movies and it wasn’t all adults that went and saw them alot of 14-16 year olds helped put that money in his pocket too so don’t feed me this bullshit about how he made violent movies but "didn’t want kids to see them".

  12. Anonymous says:

    "I’d like to point out, that restricting sales to minors based on ratings by a non-government entity and treating certain games the same as porn is a good description of what we do here in Germany."

    And that’s precisely why I would never want to live in Germany it’s about as close to a police state without the public hangings and secret police.

    "I live in the UK and we already have laws in place to stop children buying 18 and 15 rated games. It’s also the stores that take the flak when they fail "Age Related Sales" stings. I’d hardly call the UK a fascist society."

    Yes and your one step closer to becoming a police state because of that. We in the U.S are very sensitive about our freedoms being restricted and we don’t like any restriction on our rights whatsoever, espicially by a bunch out of touch politicians who really want to force thier agendas on the public.

    I truely lost respect for Arnold durring this. He made millions of dollars off of violent action movies and it wasn’t all adults that went and saw them alot of 14-16 year olds helped put that money in his pocket too so don’t feed me this bullshit about how he made violent movies but "didn’t want kids to see them".

  13. BmK ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    Arnold never said that kids should watch his movies but lets be honest, his biggest fans and the ones who watched his movies the most while he still made them  were teenagers. Without them Arnold would be an absolute nobody today and would definetly not be the governor of California. I’m sure many of the people who watched his films when they were 13 and 14 were the ones who voted for him to.

  14. BmK ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    While i agree with most of what you said, using the term "police state" or close to a "police state" to refer to Germany is kind of over-the-top. A nanny-state, yes, but "police state" is too harsh or word in this instance.

    It’s like those people who say Bush is like Hitler or worse then Hitler. Yes, Bush is a shitty, shitty president who doesn’t deserve to be in power but comparing him to Hitler is idiotic.

  15. Afirejar says:

    I’d like to point out, that restricting sales to minors based on ratings by a non-government entity and treating certain games the same as porn is a good description of what we do here in Germany.

  16. Magic Taco says:

    Yeah, But i heard that now retired wrestler Ric flair was thinking about running to be govenor of NC, But hearing Arnie make a bill to ban or surpress video games is a crock of shit and a waste, I.E if the bill dies, then im putting on a pair of sunglasses and say  "Alsta Vista Baby."

  17. gs2005 says:

    When Schwarzegger blew into office he was still the same hollywood celebrity that everyone knew.  However, the traditional political forces did not like his behavior, so after resisting for a while, he behaved exactly like the other politicians wanted him to.

    Need another example?  Look at Jesse Ventura’s experiement as governor…so watch the Terminator movies and just remember how Schwarzegger USED to be a cool guy, and now he’s a very, very different man and not necessarily for the better.  

  18. BmK ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    In the U.S. there is Freedom of Speech and to my knowledge there is no Freedom of Speech in the U.K. hence the reason they can restrict or even outright ban certain movies, books, video games, ect.

    Also while the U.K. is not what i’d call Fascist (this word is really, really overused), it is quite the nanny-state as is much of Europe. Eurpoean governments tend to have more power over their citizens then the contitution of the U.S. allows the U.S. government to have over it’s citizens.

  19. Dark Sovereign says:

    The UK is a socialist society. The people of the U.K. and the U.S. do not have the same governing philosophy.

  20. Matriculated says:

    I live in the UK and we already have laws in place to stop children buying 18 and 15 rated games. It’s also the stores that take the flak when they fail "Age Related Sales" stings. I’d hardly call the UK a fascist society.

  21. Andrew Eisen says:

    One thing you’ll hear from Yee a lot is "we narrowly tailored this law to serve the State’s compelling interest in protecting children."

    And while that sounds nice, you can’t just say you have a compelling State interest to protect children from psychological harm and call it a day. You have to do three very important things:

    1. Prove there’s something out there that’s psychologically harming children that the state needs to protect them from. (Sorry, increased aggression doesn’t constitute psychological harm.)

    2. Prove that your law will actually protect children from psychological harm. (Does the law keep kids from playing the games? No? Then it fails.)

    3. Prove that your law would be more effective then the measures already out there. (Will a sales restriction work better then game ratings, parental involvement, parental controls, and the oodles of readily available information? No. Especially considering that well over ninety percent of the time, kids aren’t the ones buying the games anyway!)

    Andrew Eisen

  22. Anonymous says:

    "As long as they dont restrict the sales to people that are 18 and older.  People under 18 shouldnt have the freedom to buy porn, Saw 4, and whatever else.  Making a law where retails are held responsible is fine.  It isnt like most retailers are not already doing this. "

    And you are aware that there is no law preventing a kid from buying Saw 4 right? And I’m tired of this games as porn crap, you honestly sound like Jack Thompson. And no there is plenty wrong with this law, the government has no bussiness telling minors what they can and cannot view, that’s called fascism and we don’t live in a fascist country.

     

    "I don’t even see how it is unconstitutional if it is worded how I believe it is.  If it banned the sale to anyone, then that is unconstitutional, but limiting kids from buying adult games…  especially with the horrible parents out there that are not even parenting their kids…  I kind of have to let this one slide."

    I’m sorry but who are you Mr.Know at all to tell someone if thier a good parent or not. If a parent is ok with thier kid playing GTA or Manhunt then that’s thier bussiness not yours.

    Oh and there is no chance they will win this. The 9th circuit is one of the most liberal courts in the nation. This legislation has about a snowballs chance in hell of winning.

  23. Adamas Draconis says:

    Sado-masochistic necrophiliac beastiality. You gotta love it.

    (Beating a dead horse for those who hadn’t heard it quite that way.)

    Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

  24. Monte says:

    There are no laws restricting minors from buying saw 4. Regulation over the R-rating and NC-17 rating for movies are 100% voluntary, just like the M rating for video games. In fact the FTC’s reports over voluntary media regulation has found that R-rated movies are much more easy for minors to buy than M-rated games… but those that try to regulate only video games tend to ignore that fact.

  25. sqlrob says:

    Government rating of content = First Amendment violation

    Mandated third party rating of content = Fifth Amendment violation

    Treating different media types differently = Fifth / Fourteenth Amendment violation

     

    ETA: Don’t forget the chilling effect that makes it unconstitutional, even if it is intended only for minors.

     

     

     

  26. BmK ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    Minors have First Amendment rights and rightfully so. The nanny-state has no business deciding what any person can or can’t watch, play, read or listen to. Parents have the right to decide what their kids can or can’t watch, play, read or listen to but that decision recides solely on the shoulders of the parents, whether it be GTA, Scarface, The Holy Bible, Harry Potter novels, ect, ect. that they don’t want them to have.

    I would actually go even further and say restricting minors access to Free Speech media is dangerous. It is essencially an indirect form of thought and mind control in the manner of restricting the dessemination of ideas and information to minors who need to be able to come up with their own viewpoints through the free flow of ideas and information in order to function normally as an adult. Otherwise by the time they reach adulthood their minds will be a blank and they would be unable to cope with the real world as we know it. This is especially true of adolecents and teenagers.

  27. Andrew Eisen says:

    Without going into a huge amount of detail, it basically comes down to this:

    You can’t make a law that restricts speech to anyone based on its content.  Not even to minors.

     

    Andrew Eisen

  28. Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    As long as they dont restrict the sales to people that are 18 and older.  People under 18 shouldnt have the freedom to buy porn, Saw 4, and whatever else.  Making a law where retails are held responsible is fine.  It isnt like most retailers are not already doing this.  (Though I am a big fan of people automatically doing this) There should be somethign that hits against retailers for selling an M rated game to a 7 year old.

    I don’t even see how it is unconstitutional if it is worded how I believe it is.  If it banned the sale to anyone, then that is unconstitutional, but limiting kids from buying adult games…  especially with the horrible parents out there that are not even parenting their kids…  I kind of have to let this one slide.

  29. Eville1NSI ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I would like to point out one thing. A common statement about the Governator. "He made money off his likeness in violent movies and games." Yeah? What’s the point of that? Sure he did. Doesn’t mean he wants children to be playing them. Two seperate animals there GP.

  30. Kevin says:

    @sortableturnip: actually, appeals can *not* be based on new evidence. Appeals courts review decisions that lower courts made based on the law at issue in the case or decisions the lower court made regarding how it interpreted that law.

    Also, as to the article more generally, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is located in San Francisco unless there is some special change for this particular hearing.

  31. gs2005 says:

    …try and push this all the way to the SCOTUS.  Knucklehead politicians need to be definitively shut down, once and for all, including Schwarzenegger. 

  32. Zaruka ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    aww the world is moving nicely another unconitonal game law that waist more of tax payers money it great world ant it.

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