The Entertainment Industry Rises Against California Game LawS

Booksellers, publishers, and authors along with the recording, advertising, arcade, and comic book industries rally against the California violent video game law in the name of all media.

Today is the last day to file friend of the court briefs in the Supreme Court case reviewing California's video game law, set to begin hearing arguments on November 2. Fearing the law will weaken the first amendment and spill over into other media, representatives from several different segments of the entertainment industry lend their support to the video game industry.

Two friend of the court briefs have been filed so far, one from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and another from the Media Coalition. The Media Coalition brief was signed by five of its members - American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, Inc., Freedom to Read Foundation, National Association of Recording Merchandisers, and Recording Industry Association of America - along with the Association of National Advertisers, Amusement & Music Operators Association, PEN Center USA, and The Recording Academy.

That's a great deal of power stacked up against Schwarzenegger v. EMA, a challenge to the 2005 California law prohibiting the sale or rental of video games containing certain violent content to minors, with penalties of up to $1,00 for each infraction. For a full rundown of the law in Stephen Totilo's excellent article on the subject.

Both briefs reflect the same fear: That the validation of this law, already struck down at the federal and appellate levels, would weaken first amendment protection for all forms of media.

"This law may be aimed at video games, but any restriction on violent content could then be applied to a much wider range of media. The potential impact of this law is clearly reflected in the wide range of mainstream groups that have joined our brief opposing this law," said David Horowitz, Executive Director of Media Coalition. "There is no First Amendment exception for violent speech in books, movies, music, or other mediums, and we believe that the Supreme Court should not open the door to a new category of unprotected speech for video games or otherwise."

Holy legal hand grenades! Comic book creators say California game law could clobber all media [LA Times]