Oklahoma Court Strikes Down Game Law

Today the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma issued a permanent injunction against that state's unconstitutional attempt at regulating computer and video games, ruling that video games are a form of creative expression entitled to protection under the First Amendment. In her decision, the Honorable Robin J. Cauthron also found that there is no support or "substantial evidence" that video games are harmful to minors. ""[T]here is a complete dearth of legislative findings, scientific studies, or other rationale to support passage of the Act," Judge Cauthron wrote.

"We need to move past unconstitutional attempts to circumvent Oklahoma citizens' rights. This bill was clearly unconstitutional and we now need to develop a public/private partnership that meets concerned parents' needs," said Michael D. Gallagher, president of the ESA, which represents U.S. computer and video game publishers. "State officials and policymakers should work together with our industry to educate parents about game ratings and the parental controls available on all new video game consoles."

Judge Cauthron addressed the issue of computer and video games' interactivity. She found that, "the presence of increased viewer control and interactivity does not remove these games from the release of First Amendment protection." The court also ruled that the law was underinclusive because a minor prevented from buying a video game with "'inappropriate violence' may still legally buy or rent the book or movie on which the game was based."

The ESA is the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of the companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the Internet. ESA members collectively account for more than 90 percent of the $7.4 billion in entertainment software sales in the U.S. in 2006, and billions more in export sales of entertainment software.

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