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>Update on California "Violent" Games Law

>As we reported here back in February, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit confirmed a district judge’s 2007 ruling that a California law that restricts sales of “violent?Ç¥ video games to minors is unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit found the law unconstitutional because it was not narrowly tailored, because treating violence as obscenity is not permissible by the Constitution and because the state had not demonstrated that violent video games cause psychological or neurological damage.

After the law was defeated at the Ninth Circuit, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the filing of a petition for certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to save the law,
arguing that the same justifications for precluding sales of pornography to minors should be applied to violent video games. “By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law would allow parents to make better informed decisions for their kids,” Schwarzenegger said. “I will continue to vigorously defend this law and protect the well-being of California’s kids.”

California?ÇÖs appeal faces a steep uphill battle, however, since the Ninth Circuit decision is just one of several similar Appeals Court rulings that all to have reached the same conclusion; the restriction of video game sales on the basis of violence is unconstitutional. To save the California law, the Supreme Court would have to reverse its long-standing First Amendment jurisprudence and hold that violent material deserves more limited constitutional protection.

Gavin George is an associate in the Intellectual Property Practice Group of Haynes and Boone. His practice covers all areas of intellectual property law, with an emphasis on technology transactions and data privacy in the information age. His practice includes technology agreement drafting and negotiation, intellectual property analysis and due diligence, and consulting on evolving data protection and social media issues.

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