New York Law School Moot Court Features EMA Case

October 1, 2010 -

Earlier this week, we reported on the results of a moot court hosted by the Institute of Bill of Rights Law at William & Mary Law School, in which several noted journalists, legal scholars, and even a federal judge sat down to hash out a mock version of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case pending before the Supreme Court. The IBRL moot court found 6-3 in favor of the State of California, causing some concern as to whether the result was an outlier or a hint towards how the Supreme Court may rule.

Apparently, William & Mary is not the only law school considering the question. New York Law School, famous for their annual State of Play conference, held a moot court competition of their own featuring a fact pattern very similar to that of the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case.  We obtained a copy of the bench brief from the case, which was written by NYLS third year law students Andrew Blancato and John Hague for the Charles W. Froessel Intramural Moot Court Competition. 

Vindicia CEO: CA SCOTUS Win Could Kill Freemium Market

September 28, 2010 -

Earlier this month we mentioned the amicus brief filed by online billing solution provider Vindicia, which backed the videogame industry in the looming Schwarzenegger vs. EMA Supreme Court showdown.

Vindicia CEO Gene Hoffman, Jr. has since penned an article for Xconomy on the case and how a ruling for California could kill the freemium model (a la Electronic Arts' Battlefield Heroes or id Software's Quake Live) of distributing videogames to the masses:

Failed Politician Rips Utah AG for Backing Game Industry

September 28, 2010 -

The decision by Utah Attorney-General Mark Shurtleff to support the game industry side of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA has made him a target in the Beehive State.

The latest person to bash Shurtleff is the failed politician, and Utah’s “common sense conservative” Cherilyn Eagar. Eagar, who was running for Senator in the state as a Republican—and against Shurtleff, before he withdrew from the race—but did not make the final run-off, took to her blog to bash Shurtleff’s decision to oppose the California law.

In the article, entitled “Children Must be Protected from Video Games,” Eagar writes that Shurtleff’s rationale in backing of the game industry could be adapted in order to “logically argue that it is free speech to allow minors to purchase cigarettes or drugs.”

Another Eagle Forum Member Makes Case Against Violent Games

September 27, 2010 -

Over the past month, the “pro-family” Eagle Forum attempted (and failed) to lobby Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff into supporting the California side of Schwarzenegger v. EMA, while its founder, Phyllis Schlafly, scribbled out a withering column on the “evil products” and “highly disturbing”  content emerging from the videogame industry. Now another Eagle Forum member is attempting to pin the group’s anti-videogame stance on protecting children.

Moot Court Renders Schwarzenegger v. EMA Opinion

September 27, 2010 -

Last month we told you that the Institute of Bill of Rights Law (IBRL) at William & Mary Law School would offer a mock trial of the Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association case, which is scheduled to go before the Supreme Court on November 2.  Well, the Moot Court held its version of the event over the weekend, and gamers will have to hope that the result does not foreshadow the verdict that SCOTUS eventually returns.

The mock trial included participants such as USA Today’s Joan Biskupic, The Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin, the New York Times’ Adam Liptak, University of California, Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemrinsky, Jeffrey Sutton from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and U.S. Department of Justice Deputy Assistant Attorney General Beth Brinkman.

Yahtzee Takes on Gamer’s First Amendment Rights

September 24, 2010 -

The Entertainments Software Association (ESA) smartly called on The Escapist’s Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw to put together a public service announcement for the ESA’s Video Game Voters Network.

In the video, Yahtzee encourages gamers to fight the “anti-fun brigade” by joining the VGVN.

2 comments

Iowa State University Proud of its Anti-Game Researchers

September 22, 2010 -

The research of Iowa State University psychology professors Craig Anderson (pictured, left) and Douglas Gentile (pictured, right), in addition to Rob West and ex-ISU professor Brad Bushman, makes up the bulk of the argument for the California side of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA in the amicus brief (PDF) filed by State Senator Leland Yee earlier this year.

Yee’s brief referenced nine studies from the ISU researchers, while Anderson, Gentile and Bushman also helped in authoring the brief’s Statement on Video Game Violence. Nevertheless, Gentile and Anderson, in an ISU press release trumpeting the pair's achievements, wanted to emphasize that while they contributed scientific “evidence,” they do not necessarily endorse the California law.

Op-Ed Praises Utah AG’s Supreme Decision

September 22, 2010 -

The courting of Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff (pictured) by both sides in the Schwarzenegger vs. EMA  U.S. Supreme Court case ended with him signing onto an amicus brief supporting the game industry, where he was joined by fellow attorneys general from Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Washington.

A disjointed op-ed in Utah’s Standard-Examiner praised Shurtleff’s decision, yet still managed to take some pot shots at the game industry.

Shurtleff stated that he backed the game industry because he was “convinced” that the First Amendment protects games, a point agreed with in the op-ed:

Is it right for the government to freeze speech -- in this case the video games -- because some people are offended by the violence? The answer is no.

Online Billing Solution Provider Files Brief Backing Game Industry

September 20, 2010 -

In what may initially seem like a stretch, Vindicia, a “leading provider of on-demand strategic billing solutions,” has filed an amicus brief in support of the videogame side in Schwarzenegger vs EMA.

The brief (PDF) makes a bit more sense when put in the context that Vindicia has clients such as Activision Blizzard and Atari. The company stated that the law at the center of the case “substantially impacts Vindicia, its customers, and the consumers they serve… by creating uncertainty regarding the legal status of video game expression.”

Furthermore, the “the Act’s age verification mandate jeopardizes significant modes of online commerce.”

Among Vindicia’s arguments:

Scholars File Brief Opposing California Videogame Law

September 20, 2010 -

Eighty-two scholars and researchers signed their name to a brief voicing opposition to the California law at the center of Schwarzenegger vs EMA.

Noting that the issue now awaiting a Supreme Court ruling is subject to strict scrutiny because it attempts to regulate the sale of games based on content, the scholars’ brief argues that California has neither provided “substantial evidence” that games cause psychological or neurological harm to minors playing them, nor does the state “demonstrate that the restriction will ‘alleviate these harms in a direct and material way.’”

Additionally:

Indeed, California does not offer any reliable evidence, let alone substantial evidence, that playing violent video games causes psychological or neurological harm to minors. California confesses it cannot prove causation, but points to studies that it says show a “correlation” between the two. But the evidence does not even do that.

Eagle Forum Founder Blast Videogames

September 9, 2010 -

Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the “pro-family” Eagle Forum has authored a column in which she takes a hatchet to videogames, while attempting to outline the fight by both sides in the Schwarzenegger vs EMA case to rally state attorneys general to their respective squads.

A few of the descriptors used by Schlafly to portray videogames in her piece include: “extremely violent and addictive,” “polluting,” “increasingly realistic bloodshed,” “highly disturbing,” “heinous acts of terrorism” and “evil products.”

In case you hadn’t guessed it yet, Schlafly is not a huge fan of games. A sampling of her more inane arguments against videogames follow:

Some games are programmed to become more violent while the game is being played, and parents usually don't or can't play the games.

Researcher Ferguson Urges Utah AG to Side with Game Industry

September 7, 2010 -

As Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff continues to decide whether to throw his state’s support behind an amicus brief opposing California’s violent videogame bill at the heart of Schwarzenegger vs EMA, Texas A&M International Associate Professor Christopher J Ferguson sent a letter to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune urging Shurtleff to join the game industry’s side.

Ferguson, best known around these parts for his videogame research, outlined three reasons why Shurtleff should oppose the California bill:

PAX 2010 Entertainment Consumers Association Panel

September 7, 2010 -

During PAX in Seattle, Wa. last week Entertainment Consumer Association President Hal Halpin sat down with G4TV's Adam Sessler for an hour to discuss a number of topics such as the ramifications of the upcoming Supreme Court case in November, why it is important that everyone sign the ECA's petition and the general state of the game industry.

If you haven't fully grasped how serious the upcoming Supreme Court hearing is and what ramifications it could have on the game industry and gamers, you should watch this video on G4TV.com and find out, because it's pretty scary.

[Game Politics is a publication of the ECA.]

1 comment

Warren Spector Warns Gamers about Upcoming SCOTUS Hearing

September 6, 2010 -

During his keynote address at PAX last week in Seattle, Wa., Junction Points founder and Deus Ex creator Warren Spector warned the crowd that they must help fight against the California video game law set for review before the US Supreme Court November 2. The court will rule on an earlier ruling of the California Appeals Court, which struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Spector said that it was important for the games industry and gamers to embrace the mainstream to achieve "social acceptance" and become "an art form worthy of study."

3 comments | Read more

Extra Credits Outlines SCOTUS Case

September 2, 2010 -

The latest Extra Credits video, as seen on The Escapist, takes on the Schwarzenegger vs EMA Supreme Court case, offering a rather complete overview  for those who might not be totally up to speed on what this action could mean for gamers.

Thanks Andrew!

Industry Supporters in SCOTUS Case May “Equal or Exceed” Detractors

September 1, 2010 -

As a September deadline looms for submitting amicus briefs in the Schwarzenegger v. EMA Supreme Court case, both sides are still hard at work recruiting advocates.

In an excellent Law.com story on the subject, a few claims and quotes jump out, including a comment from Activision Blizzard EVP and Chief Public Policy Officer George Rose, who said, “We wouldn't be surprised if the number [of states siding with the industry] was equal or exceeded the number backing California.”

Meanwhile both California Supervising Deputy Attorney General Zackery Morazzini, who will argue California’s side on November 2, and Louisiana Department of Justice Appellate Chief S. Kyle Duncan, who authored the brief for states backing the California law, seem to think that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff “is taking the lead in drafting a brief supporting the industry and discussing it with AGs of other states.”

Lawsuit Seeks Halt of Alaska Online “Censorship” Law

September 1, 2010 -

An Alaskan law that goes into effect on July 1, and deals with the electronic distribution of indecent material to minors, has come under fire by free speech advocates.

Section 11.61.128 of the Alaska Statutes, signed into law by Governor Sean Parnell (pictured hugging his predecessor) in May, calls for parties to be criminally liable for media transmissions (or hosting) of material that is considered “harmful to minors.” Additionally, violators can face up to two years in prison, could be forced to forfeit their business and would have to register as sex offenders.

Those in opposition label the law as “broad censorship,” and claim that “it bans from the Internet anything that may be ‘harmful to minors,’ including material adults have a First Amendment right to view.”

Schwarzenegger vs EMA Gets SCOTUS Oral Argument Date

August 23, 2010 -

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 10 AM ET is when oral arguments will be made in front of the Supreme Court of the United States for case number 08-1448, better known as Schwarzenegger vs EMA.

The one-hour long session is the first on that day’s calendar (PDF) and will see the Court answer a pair of questions related to a California state law originally authored by State Senator Leland Yee, which sought to ban the sale of violent videogames to minors.

The two questions posed to the Court are:

California Considers Regulating Internet Political Speech

August 5, 2010 -

Political tweets and Facebook status updates should be held to the same standards as paid advertising that voters see on television, radio or in Californian's mailboxes, says California's campaign watchdog agency, The Fair Political Practices Commission, in a report being released Monday. The Fair Political Practices Commission is considering how to regulate "new forms of political activity" on Facebook or in a text message.

"It's become necessary as politicians in California and elsewhere announce their candidacies and major campaign policies through Twitter, YouTube and a host of social networking sites," said FPPC Chairman Dan Schnur. He also added that California's 36-year-old Political Reform Act needs a modern-day re-write to keep up with the times.

"Our goal here is to meet the new challenges of 21st Century technology," Schnur said. "There's no way that the authors of the act could have anticipated that these of types of communicating a campaign message would ever exist."

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Blogetry.com to Get Data Back, Says Web Host

July 23, 2010 -

You may have read earlier this week that Burst.net, a Scranton, Pa.-based Web hosting service, took Blogetery.com, a blog hosting service that features some 73,000 or so blogs, offline earlier this month over claims that one (or more?) of the sites was hosting materials used by "al-Qaeda operatives." Joe Marr, chief technology officer of Burst.net told C|Net that "it took the site offline after FBI agents alleged the blogging platform was being used by al-Qaeda operatives to distribute recruiting materials and to offer bomb-making tips."

Today Burst.net said that it had zipped up Blogetery.com's data and will give it back to its owner, but it will no longer host the site. Marr also said the al-Qaeda materials and some copyright infringing files were removed. The transfer was due to occur later in the day.

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ECA Prez Takes to PlayStation Blog to Seek Petition Support

July 16, 2010 -

Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) President Hal Halpin was given the opportunity to make a post on Sony’s PlayStation blog in order to talk about why Schwarzenegger v EMA should matter to American gamers and to urge them to sign the ECA’s Gamer Petition.

Halpin began by stating, “At stake: gaming in America. Yes, you read that correctly.” He continued:

In the time since the Court’s announcement there has been a lot of media coverage, both from the enthusiast outlets and the national press. A disturbing theme that you’d find too often in the consumer comments is one of apathy. Perhaps it arose from winning in each of the violence in video game cases. Maybe because, from our perspective, it’s hard to wrap your head around the idea that we could lose — the logic seems pretty obvious.

ECA Taps Brooklyn Law School for Amicus Brief Assistance

July 14, 2010 -

The Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) has drafted the Brooklyn Law School as a contributor to its amicus brief that will eventually be submitted to the Supreme Court in response to Schwarzenegger v EMA.

Students from the Brooklyn Law School’s Incubator & Policy (BLIP) Clinic will provide legal research and other assistance to the ECA and the law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP as they draw up the "friend of the court document." The resulting output will be sent over to the nation’s highest court on September 17 of this year.

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More from California’s SCOTUS Brief

July 14, 2010 -

California outlined its case for a law that would make it a crime to sell violent videogames to minors in a 59-page brief filed on Monday with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo managed to get his hands on some, or all, of the document and pulled out some of the more interesting pieces.

Once again, the actual text of the currently blocked law at the heart of Schwarzenegger v. EMA:

12 comments | Read more

EA’s Green: Schwarzenegger a Hypocrite

July 13, 2010 -

EA.com Editor-in-Chief Jeff Green took to his corporate blog to write about why gamers should care about Schwarzenegger v. EMA.

Agreeing with EA CEO John Riccitiello, who said that a Supreme Court decision upholding the California law would “screw us up in a real way,” Green argued:

… it could have a chilling effect on the gaming industry as a whole--both the makers and sellers of the games, who will have to seriously think twice about the kind of product they can and want to sell, out of fear of ending up in jail. And therein lies the bigger question at hand. Because if you substitute books or movies or music in the previous couple sentences, you can see just how wrong this is.

Lawyer Predicts SCOTUS Will Strike Down CA Law

July 13, 2010 -

Because the California law at the center of Schwarzenegger v. EMA is unable to specifically define exactly what entails a “violent” game, one practicing lawyer predicts a win for the game industry when SCOTUS eventually hands down its ruling on the legality of restricting the sale of such games to minors.

The lawyer behind The Fine Print blog notes that free speech under the First Amendment “has never been unlimited,” especially when it comes to minors. He details two of the better known exceptions:

First, child pornography is outright censored in the United States; it is illegal to make, sell, or own, no freedom whatsoever. The sale of pornography to minors is also restricted, on the theory that while adults can choose for themselves if they can “handle” pornography, children won’t know until it’s too late that something is too much for them or harmful to their well-being.

ECA Prez on Schwarzenegger vs. EMA

June 28, 2010 -

The Escapist’s Russ Pitts met up with Entertainment Consumers Association (ECA) President Hal Halpin at this year’s E3 Expo for a discussion of the Schwarzenegger vs. EMA case, which has ended up in front of the Supreme Court.

After stating that a loss in the case could be “staggering and widespread,” in terms of its impact on gamers, Halpin was asked to describe the what's at stake in “broad strokes.”

He answered:

5 comments | Read more

ESA Chief on SCOTUS Case: Confident, Yet Humble

June 16, 2010 -

Entertainment Software Association (ESA) President Michael Gallagher is “humble” about how trade group might fare in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, as the nation’s highest court prepares to rule on Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) v. Schwarzenegger, which centers on a California law that attempts to make it illegal to rent or sell violent videogames to underage consumers.

In a pre-E3 briefing recounted by Joystiq, Gallagher said about the case, “We believe we're on the side of right here. We've believed that for 10 years. That hasn't wavered one iota. You go into this preparing to win, but also very prepared to handle the other conclusions as well”

Chicago Transit Authority Banned from Banning Mature VG Ads

June 1, 2010 -

While the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) won a partial victory (preliminary injunction) earlier this year against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) over an ordinance that attempted to prohibit Mature (M)-rated game advertisements, the trade group now has an even clearer win under its belt, as a Judge has permanently banned the CTA from “enforcing or directing” enforcement of the ordinance.

In a ruling (PDF) handed down on May 17 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer—who granted the preliminary injunction as well—ordered judgment against the CTA and dictated that prompt notice of the judgment be given to CTA officers, and any agents, servants, employees and attorneys. The CTA also agreed not to “appeal or otherwise attack the validity or enforceability of the Consent Judgment and Permanent Injunction.”

4 comments | Read more

MSU Professor Backs California in Upcoming Videogame Law Fight

May 28, 2010 -

In what can only be categorized as "no great shock to our readership," Michigan State University law professor Kevin Saunders will help the state of California when the Supreme Court revisits Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association later this year. Saunders will help co-author an amicus brief to help California’s position when arguing its case before the U.S. Supreme Court during its 2010-11 session, which begins in October. As you probably already know, Saunders testified during the 2005 California State Assembly Judiciary Committee hearings on the issue at the invitation of Leland Yee. His arguments were obviously against the industry and for the law written by Yee.

Saunders' statements on the matter almost sound like the ECA's, EMA’s or the ESA's position:

"Parents need to play an active role in deciding what is appropriate for their children."

No disagreement there. But then he makes it sound as if the law helps to insure that universal truth:

7 comments | Read more

Jury Still Out on Kagan’s First Amendment Stance

May 19, 2010 -

Following the nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court, some free speech advocates painted her First Amendment stance as a concern, which caused a bit of anxiety in the gaming world as Kagan (if confirmed) would have a voice in the SCOTUS review of Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) v. Schwarzenegger.

New Kagan documents released today by the White House, may cast the nominee in a different light however. AOL News gathered some details from the document dump that could be interpreted to show Kagan as a champion of media. The following are “significant cases” listed by Kagan herself from the time period when she served as an associate at Williams & Connolly from 1989 to 1991:

 
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Matthew Wilsonfirst, that crap is wrong. second, isnt this the 3rd time he has quit?08/22/2014 - 12:11pm
Zenhttp://levelsave.com/phil-fish-polytron-doxxed-phil-fish-quits-gaming-sells-fez-polytron/ , https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bvnhvz5IIAAAVc5.png:large08/22/2014 - 12:03pm
ZenHere are some links to the story and images. http://playeressence.com/polytron-and-phil-fish-hacked-tons-of-personal-info-leaked/ , https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bvnx8sQCIAAwumB.jpg:large , https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bvnj_zmCUAAlYWm.jpg:large08/22/2014 - 12:02pm
ZenSo...Phil Fish was apparently hacked on both his Twitter and the Polytron site along with all of his personal information has been given out in a zip file. He has since closed his Twitter and stated that Polytron and the Fez IP are for sale. He wants out.08/22/2014 - 12:01pm
Papa MidnightThe Verge says the sequel to Flappy Bird is nearly impossible. http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/21/6053297/swing-copters-flappy-bird-sequel08/21/2014 - 12:22pm
SleakerPC-Gamer wrote an article on what's going on with the Minecraft stuff: http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/08/21/minecraft-bukkit-team-lead-tries-to-end-development-but-mojang-steps-in/08/21/2014 - 11:55am
SleakerEVE had a high-profile ban today: http://massively.joystiq.com/2014/08/20/eve-online-lottery-site-somer-blink-shutting-down/#continued08/21/2014 - 10:26am
SleakerBut where have all the Ethics gone?08/21/2014 - 9:08am
Sleaker@EZK - one of the bigger things is that since Mojang has owned Bukkit for 2 years now, people contributing to the project have basically been doing work for them pro-bono. On top of never formalizing support. They hid the fact probably to prevent support08/21/2014 - 9:07am
SleakerIf you've played on a server with mods/plugins, you've almost for sure played on a Bukkit-based server.08/21/2014 - 8:56am
SleakerHere's Bukkit's explanation attempt at shutting down due to EULA changes: http://forums.bukkit.org/threads/bukkit-its-time-to-say.305106/08/21/2014 - 8:55am
SleakerEZK - it's the largest server mod for MC, in actuality without it minecraft for sure would not have been as popular (#1 game now).08/21/2014 - 8:54am
SleakerTo the point that it seems they have completely lost what it means to be for-community, and having transparency. Along with dumping restrictive EULA's onto people.08/21/2014 - 8:53am
E. Zachary KnightWhat is Bukkit and why should I care?08/21/2014 - 8:53am
SleakerMinecraft community exploded again today. Apparently Mojang owns all of Bukkit, and never put out a statement saying as such 2 years ago when they acquired them. I have to say, their transition from indie has been rough.08/21/2014 - 8:52am
james_fudgeThere aren't many left in America08/21/2014 - 1:50am
MechaTama31I sure have. Dorky's barcade in Tacoma, WA.08/20/2014 - 5:56pm
Matthew WilsonI have not been to a arcade in years. I know arcades are still big in japan.08/20/2014 - 5:38pm
Sleaker@AE - Ah no it's called GroundKontrol - I was just referring to it as a Bar-Arcade.08/20/2014 - 4:39pm
Andrew EisenStill looking for confirmation that High Moon Studios (dev behind the PS3/360 versions) isn't working on it.08/20/2014 - 4:38pm
 

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