Paul Smith and Gaming the Courts

August 4, 2011 -

Metro weekly profiles Paul Smith, one of the leading Supreme Court litigators in the country, and particularly his noteworthy work on Brown v. EMA. But before tackling that landmark case, Smith has (and still does) fought to advance gay equality in the courts. Smith was a key factor in successfully arguing Lawrence v. Texas before the Supreme Court in 2003, which resulted in ending sodomy laws.

Smith began his work on technology issues with a prominent First Amendment case involving the Communications Decency Act or, Reno v. ACLU. The law required "all communications on the Internet, even like email, to be suitable for young children unless … screened away from children." The law "was thrown out by the Supreme Court ultimately unanimously in 1997." Smith has spent most of his career arguing against similar regulations including those applying to video games.

The Reno case, caught the attention of the video game industry, and saw him arguing cases for the video game industry for about 10 years all around the country - including the case decided earlier this year, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association.

"States and cities have tried to pass laws limiting which games can be sold to minors based on their content," says Smith. "Our position has always been, 'there's a ratings system, and people should be able to make choices about these things themselves.' It's not obscenity, it's protected speech."

"And we had always succeeded in having the laws thrown out under the First Amendment, including in California, which is the case that went to the Supreme Court," he continued. "The alarming moment was when they took the case at the Supreme Court. There was no apparent reason why they should."

"But it led to quite a First Amendment confrontation...which had the attention of not just the video game manufacturers, but the moviemakers and the television producers and all sorts of people who were worried that we were suddenly going to have a new exception to the First Amendment for violence and kids."

"But it didn't turn out that way," Smith added.

Smith's advocacy for free speech and gay rights will continue, but gamers are in his debt for his work on Brown v. EMA.

Metro Weekly is a Washington, DC area publication that covers issues and people important to the gay and lesbian community. It has been in operation since May 1994.


Comments

Re: Paul Smith and Gaming the Courts

He's a legal genius, and now a hero to the video game community.  Hats off to you, Mr. Smith, for protecting free speech.

Re: Paul Smith and Gaming the Courts

But he promotes sodomy and wants kids to have access to violent games!!

I'm making this up but I bet some pundits say so to similar effect...

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Andrew EisenI think TT Games gets away with multiple LEGO games a year because they're all based on different franchises. If there were two or three LEGO Star Wars games every year, I think people would feel the same fatigue as they do with Assassin's Creed.03/31/2015 - 6:40pm
Andrew EisenIn other words, a hero is male because that's the default. A hero is female because of a gender-related reason. So, male heroes are for everyone. Female heroes are for women.03/31/2015 - 5:32pm
Andrew EisenHer point is that "When archetypal fantasy heroes in games are overwhelmingly portrayed as men, it reinforces the idea that... women should be able to empathize with male characters but that men needn’t be able to identify with women’s stories."03/31/2015 - 5:30pm
Andrew EisenDaniel - She doesn't say that in any of the TvW videos and I doubt she's said elsewhere that all games with male protagonists are male power fantasies. Anyway, you seem to be conflating two different ideas.03/31/2015 - 5:30pm
MaskedPixelantehttps://twitter.com/Yuriofwind/status/583028257890635776 Oh snap!03/31/2015 - 5:14pm
WymorenceFor me it just boils down to the fact that, even at a giant company, when a game comes out annually it just gives it a vibe of being rushed out the door. And god knows Unity sucked some major lemur with all its bugs...03/31/2015 - 4:22pm
PHX CorpI launched my spotify account today, and I kinda went a little overboard with adding music03/31/2015 - 3:59pm
Sora-ChanCon't. Games like AC are a pain to someone like me who likes to play games in order. So when a game gets too many releases too quickly, it puts me off. Only exceptions are games that have no interconnected underlying stories like the FF games.03/31/2015 - 2:53pm
Sora-ChanWikipedia has rarely let me down on matters like this. But yeah... AC needs a break.. like two.. or three... or eight years.03/31/2015 - 2:51pm
ConsterThere's 9 already?! I think I played 1, 2, and the ones inbetween 2 and 3.03/31/2015 - 2:23pm
Sora-ChanCon't There are now Nine... of just the main entries into the series. There are 13 more in the "other games" department.03/31/2015 - 2:15pm
Sora-ChanI tried to get into AC. Was having a decent time with the first one, at which point they had already released three titles. Then a fourth came out... then a fifth... the wall kept growing before I could finish the first.03/31/2015 - 2:14pm
Daniel LewisI think ubisoft should give AC a break before it's milked to death,and i'm a big fan of the games03/31/2015 - 1:15pm
PHX Corphttp://www.polygon.com/2015/3/31/8320017/assassins-creed-chronicles-china-india-russia Assassin's Creed Chronicles is now a trilogy, goes to China, India and Russia03/31/2015 - 1:11pm
Daniel LewisThe only thing said i disagree with is the final quote on Men's experiences are seen to be universal but women are gendered,though doesn't anita say that games with male protagonists are male power fantasies,so in turn both are gendered03/31/2015 - 1:08pm
Daniel Lewisi found the video to be much better than any of the TvW series and it's about time the positive women are put in the spotlight03/31/2015 - 1:06pm
Daniel LewisSo feministfrequency released a positive female character video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXmj2yJNUmQ03/31/2015 - 1:05pm
Daniel LewisI think the guy who made the direct leak said it was an april fools joke when a real one was announced03/31/2015 - 12:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNo way Nintendo would let information like that get out. Remember, they shut down a memoir about the localization of Earthbound by enforcing a 20 year old NDA on the author.03/31/2015 - 12:42pm
Andrew EisenOh, there's definitely a Nintendo Direct tomorrow, but that beat-by-beat recap is almost certainly bogus.03/31/2015 - 12:20pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician