In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has Implications for Game Developers

May 19, 2009 -

Tax breaks and other government incentives for developers are a terrific benefit to the video game industry. But, as GamePolitics has previously reported, in Texas they come with strings attached, allowing the state to withhold funding based on the content of a project.

Those strings have now reared their ugly head, at least for one filmmaker.

The Waco Tribune-Herald reports that Texas Film Commission Director Bob Hudgins has denied funding to the producers of Waco, a film project based on the 1993 shootout and subsequent standoff at the Branch Davidian compound:

Hudgins [said] he made the decision after reviewing the script and talking with journalists and law enforcement people involved in the incident.

Under the provisions of the recently enacted Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, state financial incentives can’t go to film, video or video game projects that inaccurately depict the state or actual events in the state.

An earlier report suggested that the incentives were blocked due to “opposition from an unnamed state senator.” However, Hudgins denied that, saying that the decision was his.

The producers have suggested they may relocate to neighboring Louisiana, where state incentives have no such content restrictions.


Comments

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has

XmRax hit it exactly. "The first amendment protects the freedom of speech not the freedom of funding. They are not being restricted in any way, just being told the government will not help them." It is the states money that they are GIVING to a project. There is not tax credit but rather cash back. No law was broken in any way. People cannot expect to paid for everthing they do. If I wanted to make a film on 911 being a conspiracy (yes, very dumb) and asked the government to pay for it and they said no.. I can still spout out all I wanted. The govenment just says we arent going to pay you. No speech was prohibited at all. I can still go out and make it and cause a big fuss with no problems. Films are not entitled to money. Entitled to speech, but not entitled to money.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Please don't hate all of us down here in Texas. Some of us are perfectly well adjusted people who don't perscribe to the uber conservative agenda.

Unfortunately our Texas politicians are still catering to the knuckle dragging, hate sustaining, bible thumping, bigoted, inbred white trash of our state instead of us normal citizens. The crazies still unfortunately outnumber the normals by at least 2 to 1 though so most of the derogatory comments here are probably warranted still.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Texas is the best place I have ever lived or worked. Most of the people here in Texas, even in "Blue" places like Austin, are the salt of the earth kind of folks one doesn't find as much as they ought to north of the Mason Dixon line. I'll be sad if I ever have to leave here.

Just because you disagree with someone is no excuse for name-calling and inflammatory language.

--Verbinator

--Verbinator

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

"salt of the earth kind of folks"

That's a warning sign right there!

--------------------------------------------------

I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

-------------------------------------------------- I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Salt of the earth is normally used to denote, humble and decidedly not pretentious.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

 Sounds pretty negative saying to me =p

I mean, "Grass" is something i'd call humble and not pretentious... "salted earth" is just useless wasteland that can not give life to anything... at least i don't think it has a use... who comes up with some of these old sayings?

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

The whole of the internet before you and you can't bother to look up the meaning of a saying, possibly its origins.


Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

I'd love to know their definition of accurate, I wonder if 'inaccurate' is simply a political anagram of 'reveals some embarassing failings in the State's dealing with the situation'?

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

I agree, Texas shouldn't have said inaccurate without stating what was inaccurate.

http://www.magicinkgaming.com/

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has

Sheesh.  Why couldn't they find a violent, racist, neo-nazi propaganda piece to kill with the provision and get public support on their side?  Now we get another arguement about freedoms versus state responsibility.  I'm glad I live in Canada where we don't -- oh wait, yes we do. _-_

---
The Mammon Philosophy

---
Fangamer

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Texas- where science education is thrown out in favor of religious indoctrination, sex toys are illegal, teens can't help but get knocked up, and now this.  They really need to reconsider leaving the Union.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

I think the only people who care about keeping texas in the union are federal leaders... i.e. it would decrease their authority.  I doubt anyone else really cares.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Hmmm. State agency denies public benefit based on content of speech. And the First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause lawsuits haven't yet been filed because . . . ? 

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

They aren't saying he can't produce it. Only that they won't fund it. The First Amendment says "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech."  It doesn't say anything about funding private endeavors :)

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Neither does it say that videogames are a protected form of speech. *pauses and thinks to self that Jack Thompson's actually been right all along*

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

No form of speech is singled out as "protected" by the Bill of Rights.  All forms of speech are protected unless they fall under several of the specific exceptions to free speech. (Obscenity, sedition, incitement to crime, causing panic, etc).

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Precisely! Which means that somewhere along the line the word "speech" as it appears in the First Amendment must have intrepreted to include some forms of specific speech but not others. This must be so because all the First Amendment says is "speech" without making any distinction among forms of speech. Is it possible that that the phrase "no law abridging" was also intrepreted? And intrepreted to include the prohibition of a State funding the promotion of a particular viewpoint? Just because the First Amendment doesn't specifically say "X" doesn't mean that "X" isn't what it says.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

The First Amendment protects your freedom to express yourself (within certain limits) without fear of government reprisal or censorship.

The government has not censored this game. They simply are not funding it.

Regardless of your personal interpretation of the First Amendment, their civil rights have not been violated. The few times this issue has gone up before the Supreme Court, it's been decided narrowly (5/4) - and they've bounced back and forth between which side they've supported. So no, it's not as simple as you make it out to be.

For example: in Rust v Sullivan (1991) the Supreme Court ruled that - essentially - the government could use its money to encourage only certain views it approved of, so long as it didn't try to prevent the opposing views from being expressed. And that was about a much more controversial subject.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Not that it makes much of a difference to our discussion (protected speech is protected speech regardless of form) but just so the record's clear, at issue is a film, not a game.

Rust provides us useful guidance. Isn't Texas' rule doing exactly what Rust prohibits? If the State of Texas finds your film to "accurately" (whatever that term means and putting aside for now the obvious "vagueness" constitutional concerns it raises) depict the State and/or events which occurred in the State, your film gets a subsidy. There's not much disputing, I think, that this effectively is the use of government funds to encourage publication of a view of which the State approves. If you think it isn't, please let me know. If we can agree that it is, then we can move on to the next step which Rust requires of us and ask whether or not there is a competing view which the State discourages from being expressed. The answer to this inquiry, I believe, is "yes." It is the film which the State of Texas finds to inaccurately depict the State and/or events which occurred in the State and which, therefore, under the rule gets no subsidy, effectively discouraging its publication. Thus, Texas does precisely what Rust said it shouldn't be doing: using the grant of government funds to encourage promotion of a particular view of which it approves while simulataneously using the denial of government funds to discourage promotion of a view of which it disapproves. If you can see where this doesn't run afoul of Rust, please let me know.

And I stand to applaud you *stands and claps hands together* for actually citing to a relevant Supreme Court decision. Beats the Hell out of the popular trend of substituting a repeated ad nauseum personal opinion for the Court's opinions. Well done.

 

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

I'll be brief, because it's late, and I'm tired. Try not to hold it against me. :D

Film, yup. Mind just automatically types game when I'm on this site. Go figure.

Actually, the State of Texas is withholding money to refrain from endorsing the publication of a view that the state doesn't approve of. It's a subtle difference, but an important one.

The Rust v Sullivan decision was primarily about when the government was permitted to withhold money, and for what reasons. The Supreme Court apparently didn't believe that withholding financing constituted preventing a viewpoint from being expressed. I'm inclined to agree - certainly, you would have to seek funding elsewhere, but unless the government tried to interfere with that, I don't see a problem with it.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

To quote N.W.A., those N***** with Attitude, who said it so much better than I ever can or ever will: "Espress yaself!!!" 

You'll notice, if you've taken the day and a half required to read through Rust v. Sullivan, that while the Court found the Government's choice to fund the activity (n.b.: not the "viewpoint," but the "activity") of childbirth over that of abortion not to have violated the First Amendment, it took pains to point out that it's decision was based on the fact that "[i]n so doing, the Government has not discriminated on the basis of viewpoint; it has merely chosen to fund one activity to the exclusion of another." The negative implication of this is that if the Government had indeed discriminated on the basis of viewpoint in choosing to fund the viewpoint of childbirth over that of abortion, then doing so would be violative of the First Amendment. And this prohibited discrimination on the basis of viewpoint in choosing whether or not to fund a viewpoint is precisely what the State of Texas is doing.

"Yo, Dre! Stick to producin'" -- Eric "Easy-E" Wright   

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Because lawmakers know how to get around such things?

Generally when you see sucessful first ammendment suits, one can wager that the original law was a plublicity stunt.  A lawmaker who wants to actually get around the consitution will use something like the machinegun tax stamp.

Re: In Texas, Denial of Film Subsidy Based on Content Has ...

Ok..its public money so it should go to all educational media without question or most media without question.
By nit picking in this manner to pad ones crotch..er... cock...er..... resume of "hey looky I did this!!" defeats the propose of it....

Also we need to rid government of bribes, free trips and lobbying.

 


I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay's outside our bedrooms..


http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

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