ESA discusses Supreme Court victory


After a long and historic legal battle with the state of California that began six years ago in 2005, the Entertainment Software Association emerged victorious today when the US Supreme Court ruled that video games are protected by the First Amendment. Since the decision earlier in the day, ESA President Michael Gallagher has answered questions regarding the case, the decision, and the likelihood of the issue ever arising in the United States again.

"This is the thirteenth consecutive decision, and obviously the most important, upholding the First Amendment rights of videogame developers and videogame companies," said Gallagher.

The ESA president then continued to say that since Schwarzenegger v. EMA went to the Supreme Court, the organization has "seen a very steady drop-off in the volume of legislation targeted at content in our industry." To be exact, Gallagher added, "there’s only a single federal bill that addresses these issues at the moment and it has at least one or no co-sponsors."

He then went on to criticize the cost of California’s efforts to slow the sale of violent games.

"The state of California spent six years and hundreds of thousands – it will probably approach over a million dollars – in fees and creating uncertainly in the marketplace, and now we’ve reached this result where the ESRB is, in fact – as we’ve been saying for years – is the right approach,"  Gallagher stated.

According to him, the next steps for the industry from here is to "continue to support and continue to perfect the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB)."

"The court decision didn’t create a new right or a new opportunity and the industry is not going to take a different tack when it comes to ratings and making sure that we’re being clear with parents about what our industry is providing," Gallagher explained.

One of the most frequent topics during the questioning was the possibility of the Supreme Court taking up case against violent games again.

"There’s always the possibility that a change in personnel will change the views of the court," said lawyer Paul M. Smith. "This is a very strong opinion and the court does not overrule itself very readily. The quickest you see is decades at a time, in most cases."

The man who presented the industry’s case to the Supreme Court last year said he doesn’t think the Court is "very likely" to hear this argument again "anytime in the near future." Smith then added that an attempt to bring up another case would be quite futile.

"It’s my view as the lawyer here that any state that passes a bill that tries to regulate video games based on content is just asking to be paying my legal fees," he answered.

When asked the same thing, Gallagher was much more blunt.

"No, that door has been slammed shut," he responded.



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Author: Mike Murphy View all posts by
Mike has been playing games for over two decades. His earliest memories are of shooting ducks and stomping goombas on NES, and over the years, the hobby became one of his biggest passions. Mike has worked with GamerNode as a writer and editor since 2009, giving you news, reviews, previews, a voice on the VS Node Podcast, and much more.

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