The Entertainment Software Association, the trade group that represents the video game industry, spent almost $1.1 million in lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. in the third quarter of 2011. The group lobbied on a variety of issues such as energy efficiency, entertainment industry ratings, parental control technology, foreign trade policy reform, the H1-B visa program, piracy, and copyright issues. The group spent about the same amount of money that it did in the second quarter of this year - slightly less than in the third quarter of 2010.
After losing the mayoral race in San Francisco, California state senator Leland Yee is getting back into the groove.. of targeting violent video games and giving parents advice before they go out shopping for the holidays. The good senator from the San Francisco/San Mateo district issued a press release this morning urging parents not to buy their children violent video games for the holidays.
It looks like the State of California and the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) have not quite completed their courtroom business together, but the rest of their battle will take place in a lower court.
The Supreme Court of the United States chose not to make a ruling on the EMA’s request that the court award it $1.4 million in attorney’s fees and expenses related to Brown v. EMA (08-1448). Instead, the court sent it back to the Ninth Circuit Court for adjudication.
While it might not be flashy, it's news. The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) announced that its Board of Directors has elected officers for the 2011-12 year. Bob Geistman (Ingram Entertainment) has been re-elected to a seventh consecutive term as Chairman of EMA, John Marmaduke (Hastings Entertainment, Inc.) was elected to serve as Vice Chairman, and Marty Graham (Rentrak Corporation) was named Treasurer.
The Entertainment Merchants Association (or EMA - who you may know better for their Supreme Court victory against the state of California) announced that the annual Digital Media Pipeline will be held on September 7. This year the event will take place at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Digital Media Pipeline is a one-day conference presented by the EMA that focuses on business-to-business opportunities in the digital delivery of home entertainment to the consumer. This year will mark the third time the event has been presented.
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is seeking $1.1 million in legal fees from California for its work related to Brown v. EMA. The move is not an unfamiliar one for the trade group, who has successfully sued and won fees in the lower courts in states throughout the country (notably Louisiana, Michigan, and Illinois), but this is a first at the highest level of the U.S. court system.
"It's unfortunate that some officials continue to believe that unconstitutional laws are the answer, when time and time again courts have thrown out these bills and proven them to be a waste of taxpayers' dollars," the ESA said in a statement... four years ago. Hopefully California's government will listen after this expensive lesson in constitutional law.
According to a Bloomberg report, The Entertainment Software Association spent around $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2011 on lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. The trade group that represent the interactive entertainment industry in North America spent that money on lobbying federal agencies and Congress on the regulation of game content, international trade, the First Amendment and other issues, according to a disclosure report. The ESA (as a participant alongside the Entertainment Merchants Association) scored a victory Monday when the Supreme Court struck down the 2005 California law banning the sale and rental of violent video games to minors.
Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello tells IndustryGamers that today's decision from the Supreme Court on California's violent videogame law is a win for everyone. Last year Riccitiello expressed concern that publishers would be forced to ship different versions of the same title if new rules were implemented in California and other states. He feared state level bureaucracies that define what’s marketable in each state. Today's ruling makes that less likely to happen.
"Everybody wins on this decision – the Court has affirmed the Constitutional rights of game developers; adults keep the right to decide what’s appropriate in their houses; and store owners can sell games without fear of criminal prosecution," Riccitiello told IndustryGamers in a statement today.
Bo Andersen, CEO of Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) has released a statement on the U.S. Supreme court's ruling on Brown v. EMA. Obviously they are pleased with the decision, but cautions that this is a wake-up call to the fact that parents are often under-informed about the content of videogames. He also notes that the ESRB rating system does a good job of informing parents.
"EMA welcomes today’s Supreme Court ruling that let stand the Court of Appeals’ decision finding the California video game restriction law to be unconstitutional," said Bo Andersen, CEO of Entertainment Merchants Association. "We are gratified that our position that the law violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of expression has been vindicated and there now can be no argument whether video games are entitled to the same protection as books, movies, music, and other expressive entertainment."
With summer vacation on its way later this month in most parts of the country and with children looking for things to do when they aren't outside, it makes perfect sense that June has been declared Entertainment Ratings & Labeling Awareness Month by DiMA, EMA, NARM, and NATO (no, not THAT NATO).
The Digital Media Association (DiMA), Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), and National Association of Theatre Owners are calling on theatre owners and retailers of movies, music, and video games to highlight and emphasize the motion picture and video game ratings and music labeling systems to their customers.
Bo Andersen, President & CEO of the Entertainment Merchants Association today applauded the efforts of video game and DVD retailers in enforcing ratings systems and keeping adult material out of the hands of teenagers. Both groups did pretty well in the latest "undercover shop" by the Federal Trade Commission, which seeks to identify the level of ratings enforcement by leading video game, DVD, music retailers and movie theaters. Andersen said,
"[The] EMA is pleased with the leading performance of its members in enforcement of the video game ratings and the significant improvement in enforcement of the DVD ratings. The credit for these improvements goes to the individual retailers who have made ratings enforcement a part of their corporate culture, and in the case of video games, the ESRB and their ESRB Retail Council."
Applications are now being accepted for the Entertainment Merchants Association's 2011 academic scholarships. The scholarships which will be awarded to a number of "deserving top college-bound students or graduate students within the EMA-member family."
"We are proud that, since its establishment in 1987, the EMA Scholarship Foundation has provided financial assistance totaling more than $1,000,000 to over 228 students,” noted Andersen. “This has been made possible through the generosity of our member companies that have contributed to the foundation.”
EMA’s Scholarship competition is open annually to high-school seniors who will be entering college as freshmen in the following year; undergraduates currently attending a four-year college institution, and graduate students.
As for eligibility:
The Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy offers an exhaustive analysis of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association in an article called "The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same: Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association."
Beatrice M. Hahn dissects every aspect of the case - from the positions of both sides and the lack of data supporting the state's case, to free speech issues and the definition of obscenity. While the lengthy review of the case is interesting, readers will be more fascinated with the conclusions: the Supreme Court will probably rule against California's 2005 video game law.
From the last three paragraphs of the article:
In an editorial entitled "Your mom will hate 'Dead Space 2,' but does anyone care?," writer Tim Dunn ponders why EA's marketing department has used a technique usually used for teens and children for a mature rated game. Further, he wonders why EA would even think about using such a campaign when the Supreme Court is hearing a case about keeping ultra violent video games out of the hands of you children.
While his comments might seems a little overblown, he points out some valid concerns as well. He mentions mature games such as Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption, which carry a mature rating because they are telling stories and tackling topics that are geared towards adults. The Dead Space 2 campaign plays on "juvenile notions of maturity gamers have worked hard to change." In other words, the marketing for the game takes that fight a step back.
Here is more from Dunn:
An excellent editorial appearing in the February 2011 issue of Reason Magazine explains quite plainly why it is ridiculous that California is fighting for the 2005 law written by Leland Yee and signed into law by then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Writer Jacob Sullum starts the article by pointing out the irony of Arnold signing into a law a bill that bans violent media.
This from the same guy who starred in movies like Eraser, Commando, Terminator 1 and 2, End of Days, Last Action Hero, Predator, Total Recall, The 6th Day, and many more. Most recently, he did a cameo in The Expendables - an ultra violent action movie starring an all-star cast of aging action stars.
The Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) announced that EA Sports President Peter Moore will keynote the 2011 GameSupply Summit. Moore will deliver a speech entitled "Digital Play – What’s The Future," which attempts to address the process of making money in the digital, free-to-play, subscription and micro-transaction space of video games.
The one-day event is scheduled to take place February 2 in Burbank, CA at the Marriott Burbank Airport hotel.
The GameSupply Summit is a gathering of game retailers, distributors, analysts, content creators, and publishers to discuss and exchange ideas related to interactive entertainment supply. 2011 marks the third year for the event.
Not every teenage boy backs the video game industry when it comes to banning the sale of violent video games to children in California. Take 16-year-old Daniel Willens, a junior at Sonoma Academy -- a preparatory school in Santa Rosa, California, for example.
The teenager penned an editorial in the Press Democrat called "PRO: Minors shouldn't be allowed to buy violent games." Daniel sounds like many of the other supporters of the 2005 law written by California State Senator (D-San Francisco). Daniel opens with the following statement:
It is one thing to read a transcript of oral arguments in a court case, but to get the full effect, audio or video is the best way to figure out just how convincing each side’s arguments are. C-Span has audio of the oral arguments Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants available on its web site. The audio features the comments of lawyers for both sides, along with all of the chief justices hearing the case.
The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association on November 2, in which the state of California challenged a lower court ruling that the law was unconstitutional. Lawyers for the EMA argued that the lower courts made the right decision and explained why the law was flawed.
You can listen to the audio here.
The Entertainment Merchants Association plans to hold its second annual GamePlan Summit September 13 - 15, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago, Illinois. The event allows both game publishers and retailers to meet for one-on-one meetings and to discuss strategic issues both sectors face in the year ahead.
"EMA’s GamePlan Summit’s success is due to our exhibitors’ support and their continued effort to rise and meet the challenges of the growing demand for the compelling experience found in video gaming," said EMA President and CEO Bo Andersen. "EMA is pleased to offer a platform for strategic planning and growth for this dynamic segment of the entertainment industry."
Next year's event will feature a new Executive Forum about the future of the industry and a special charity event benefitting the EMA Scholarship Foundation.
Texas A&M International University professor and videogame researcher Christopher Ferguson has penned an editorial for the Sacramento Bee in which he argues that the state of California is acting “irresponsibly” in its push for a law that would ban the sale of adult-rated violent games to minors.
Ferguson, as readers of this site well know, tends to generate research that is more open-minded in terms of the relation between violent games, youth and aggression. As such, his research was featured prominently in the amicus brief (PDF) for Schwarzenegger vs. EMA filed by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and Entertainment Software Association (ESA).
The Entertainment Merchants Association president issued a brief statement on today’s oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court related to Schwarzenegger v. EMA. Overall EMA's top executive seemed upbeat about the whole ordeal:
"Today’s U.S. Supreme Court argument in Schwarzenegger v. EMA was both spirited and stimulating. I’m pleased that the justices recognized that the standard in the California law for restricting 'violent video games' to minors is unworkable in practice. I am confident that the justices will see beyond the facial appeal of restricting “violent video games” for minors and hold the law unconstitutional." - EMA President Bo Andersen.
Thanks Hal Halpin. More information about the EMA can be found at www.entertainmentmerchantsassociation.org/.
[GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]
The Entertainment Merchants Association passed us a quick note to let us know that the AirTalk program on KPCC ((National Public Radio in Pasadena, CA) will run a segment on (Monday, November 1 at 11:00 am PT) about the Schwarzenegger v. EMA case. Arguments for and against the California video game law will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 2. The ECA will be holding a rally on the steps of the court in support of the game industry and gamers.
The AirTalk Segment will feature Dr. Chris Ferguson of Texas A&M and Dr. L. Rowell Huesmann of the University of Michigan discussing the pros and cons of both sides of the issue. AirTalk is streamed live at www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk.
With all of the interest around the violent video game case, Schwarzenegger v EMA, we get questions daily on the process, the case, the legal principals, our amicus brief, others’ briefs, and what is going to happen on the day of oral arguments and beyond. While we hope that the following information will shed some light on the oral argument process, we also routinely refer folks to the Supreme Court website, as well as to relevant articles on GamePolitics.
As the case surrounding a law he originally authored makes its way to the Supreme Court next week, California State Senator Leland Yee issued a handful of comments related to what will eventually be a landmark decision for gamers.
The Court will, of course, hear oral arguments for Schwarzenegger v EMA on Tuesday, November 2 at 10:00 AM.
Yee said he was “hopeful” that the Court would give “parents a valuable tool to protect children from the harmful effects of excessively violent, interactive video games.”
Yee additionally claimed that SCOTUS has "often ruled" in favor of protecting kids and limiting their access, citing topics such as "pornography, gambling, marriage, firearms, jury duty, tobacco, alcohol, voting, abortion, licenses, and the death penalty" as examples.
According to a report on the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance, a new rule from Consumer Product Safety Commission may make it so that packaged media like DVDs, videogames, and other products aimed at children will have tracking labels attached to them (PDF).
Part of the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), the rule was meant to satisfy a congressional mandate for safety recalls on children’s products related to things like lead levels from toys and other products from China.
While we’ll be trying to gain entrance into the Supreme Court to hear Schwarzenegger vs EMA oral arguments on November 2, even if questionable credentials or a nefarious past preclude us from gaining access, a recording of the arguments will be made available on the SCOTUS website.
The new recording release initiative, as detailed on the SCOTUS website, begins with the current October term and will see audio files posted to the SCOTUS website on Fridays, under the Oral Arguements section of the site's menu.
Recently the Entertainment Merchants Association (who you may know best for their upcoming Supreme Court battle against the state of California) handed out honors to publishers and retailers for their contributions to the game industry as part of its GamePlan Summit (thanks to Gamasutra). Honorees include Best, GameStop, and Gamefly, among others.
Activision and GameStop took away the most honors: Activision was honored for Best Use of Social Networks (for Modern Warfare 2), Best Packaging (Modern Warfare 2), and Best Publisher’s Marketing Campaign (Modern Warfare 2). GameStop was honored for Best Game Department, and Best Retail Promotion and Marketing.
Billing the California law at the heart of the Schwarzenegger vs EMA Supreme Court case as the “latest in a long history of overreactions to new expressive media,” the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) have filed their argument against the restriction of videogame sales in California.
The brief contends that videogames are a form of expression “as rich in content as books and movies,” and that they “are fully protected by the First Amendment.”
It was written that “California’s argument is not saved by the fact that the State is purportedly acting to assist parents,” adding:
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.”