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High Court Videogame Ruling Due Monday

Posted On: 6/26/2011

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video game, video game violence, video game control, U.S. Supreme Court, Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce its verdict in the case of Brown vs. Entertainment Merchants Association on Monday, June 27, which is the final day of the high court's 2011 session, according to a statement released by Calif. state Sen. Leland Yee. The San Francisco Democrat authored the 2005 law that is at issue, banning sale or rental of so-called "violent" videogames to players under 18 and imposing a $1,000 fine per violation.

The law was intended to target consumer games played at home, but use of the word "rent" in the legal text means that if the law takes effect, zealous law enforcement officials could potentially apply the statute to coin-operated videogames.

Entertainment industry members have voiced concern that if the court upholds the law, it would lead to similar laws in 49 other states, creating a chilling effect for the videogame industry and perhaps for entertainment generally.

Whether the Supreme Court upholds the law or knocks it down, Yee plans a press extravaganza immediately following Monday's announcement. At 9:30 a.m. West Coast time, Yee will join San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr and doctors and child advocates to respond to the court's verdict.

On June 23, Yee said he was "cautiously optimistic" that the court will "help protect our children from the harmful effects of ultra-violent videogames."

The Supreme Court heard arguments on the law on Nov. 2, 2010. Attorneys for the Amusement and Music Operators Association had filed a friend of the court brief opposing the law, California Assembly Bill 1179.

In doing so AMOA joined a coalition of more than 180 organizations and experts that opposed the law, ranging from First Amendment authorities to social scientists.

Among those opposing bill were attorneys general from 10 states and U.S. territories, who argued that this type of legislation would strengthen the "videogames made me do it" defense that is now sometimes used by criminals, and would force states to spend scarce resources on reviewing videogame content and policing sales and rentals.

Attorneys general from 11 states filed briefs in support of of the bill.