Bethesda and the Word 'The'

August 30, 2011 -

If you think that the cease and desist letter Bethesda sent Minecraft developer Mojang over plans to use the word "Scrolls" in its next game is ridiculous, then Andrew Eisen's latest video will make a lot of sense. After all, if one company can go after another for "Scrolls" then they can go after anyone for any other seemingly innocuous or common word. Take the word "the," for example...

5 comments | Read more

Save The Internet Seeks Donations for 'New Best Friends' Video

August 9, 2011 -

Free Press's Save The Internet is looking for your help to place an ad that more than a quarter of a million visitors selected. The video "New Best Friends" received thousands more votes than the nearest runner up, but now that users have chosen it, Free Press needs your help to turn it into a real ad that can air on TV and across the Internet.

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Paul Smith and Gaming the Courts

August 4, 2011 -

Metro weekly profiles Paul Smith, one of the leading Supreme Court litigators in the country, and particularly his noteworthy work on Brown v. EMA. But before tackling that landmark case, Smith has (and still does) fought to advance gay equality in the courts. Smith was a key factor in successfully arguing Lawrence v. Texas before the Supreme Court in 2003, which resulted in ending sodomy laws.

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Expert Analysis: Bill S. 978

July 11, 2011 -

GamePolitics Contributing Editor and Maryland intellectual property attorney Daniel Rosenthal offers and in-depth analysis of Bill S. 978 (also known as the "anti-streaming bill") in this guest editorial.

S.978, the "anti-streaming bill" has been introduced in Congress, apparently in response to the White House's Intellectual Property Enforcement Legislation Recommendations white paper (PDF), which recommended to Congress that they should amend the Copyright Act to "clarify that [copyright] infringement by streaming . . . is a felony in appropriate circumstances." While that seems innocuous enough on its face, the bill presented by the bipartisan trio led by Sen. Klobuchar is deeply flawed for a number of reasons.

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Culture Magazine Highlights Marijuana Usage of Pro Gamers

July 8, 2011 -

While professional video game players don't have the equivalent of performance enhancing drugs such as steroids, pro medical marijuana publication Culture Magazine thinks that many use Marijuana to enhance their abilities prior to tournament play. The publication cites a comment made by Alex Walker, the Australian World Cyber Games tournament director, to game publication GamePlayer.

"I’ve seen a number of players at national tournaments who came in ‘baked’ purely so they could play better," said Alex Walker, the Australian World Cyber Games tournament director, in a recent interview with Gameplayer.

8 comments | Read more

UK Looks to US for Inspiration in Web Site Blocking Law

July 5, 2011 -

Taking a cue from North American lawmakers, politicians in the United Kingdom are planning on creating laws to deal with supposed illegal streaming of copyrighted content. The warning came from UK Communications Minister Ed Vaizey in a speech at the Intellect Consumer Electronics in London. In that speech Vaizey said that a "voluntary code of practice" being drawn up by US ISPs and content owners might be a "game-changer" in other countries. And by other countries, he means his country.

"If people are streaming live football without permission we should look at ways we can stop them," he said. "People have the right to earn money from content they create."

While he remained silent on what was decided or discussed at last week's meeting between ISPs and content providers to discuss website blocking, he did say that what is going on in the United States is "leading the way."

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Sarkozy: Countries Can Not Be Neutral About Unchecked Internet Use

May 24, 2011 -

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has opened the first e-G8 forum in Paris, with leaders in technology such as Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales, News Corp chief executive Rupert Murdoch, BBC director general Mark Thompson, and Google's Eric Schmidt set to give talks about Internet technology.

But even as the French president is excited to be thoe host of the technology gathering, many critics have said that the gathering is more about control than internet innovation. Attempting to address some of those concerns, Sarkozy said that the Internet enables and fosters the ability to engage in revolution without all the blood and death:

"The global revolution that you incarnate is a peaceful one. It did not emerge on battlefields but on university campuses," he said.

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Google Executive Slams New 'PROTECT IP Act' Bill

May 19, 2011 -

Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt on Wednesday proclaimed the company's strong opposition to new legislation that calls for shutting down access to file-sharing websites that offer allegedly copyrighted material. The new law proposes that the government blacklist these sites, take them offline, and demand that search providers such as Google delist them from their search indexes.

Schmidt argued that laws such as these set a very “disastrous precedent” for destroying free speech all over the world.

"If there is a law that requires DNSs [domain name systems] to do X, and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president of the United States and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it," Schmidt told reporters at a London conference. "If it's a request, the answer is we wouldn't do it. If it's a discussion, we wouldn't do it."

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Congresswoman Lofgren: Domain Seizures Trample on Due Process

March 14, 2011 -

Silicon Valley Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA.) says that seizing web sites and web domains tramples on due process. Speaking at length with Ars Technica, Lofgren takes aim at the administration's efforts to take down web sites that allegedly engage in illegal activity like file-sharing, copyright infringement and counterfeit goods.

Lofgren starts by saying that ICE doesn't have the authority to do what they are doing, that they are trampling on due process because the seizures are almost instant, and that - in some cases - they have violated the first amendment rights of some domain owners. Here is more on that from Lofgren:

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Long-Time Free Press CEO Leaving in Mid-April

March 8, 2011 -

Long-time Free Press CEO and president Josh Silver has left the organization dedicated to free speech to become CEO of the Democracy Fund, a new operating foundation that will "challenge the influence of corporate lobbyists over government policymaking." Silver is expected to part ways with Free Press in mid-April. He will be replaced by the organization’s current Managing Director Craig Aaron. Aaron had plenty of nice things to say about the soon-to-be-departing Silver:

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SCOTUS 'Originalists' and Video Games

January 11, 2011 -

The Atlantic Wire asks the question "What Does the Constitution Say About Video Games?" by pointing to a New York Times article about the Supreme Court's "originalists." These justices, led by Justice Scalia, believe the law "should adhere as closely as possible to the Constitution's text and to the founders' original intentions," according to the Atlantic Wire.

So what does this mean as it relates to new technology the founding fathers could have never imagined like video games?

Here is some of what the New York Times article said about it:

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Teen Op-Ed: California Game Law Should Be Upheld

January 10, 2011 -

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:

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Report: Sonderkommando Revolt Mod Shelved

December 20, 2010 -

Sonderkommando Revolt, the Wolfenstein mod that reimagined an 1944 Jewish uprising against the camp guards at Auschwitz, has been shelved. One of the key developers on the homebrew project, Maxim Genis, said that online criticism about the subject matter, and an abusive response from the internet community have made working on the project too difficult.

"I did a lot of research for the game," said Genis. "I wanted to show the Jews really did fight back against the Nazis. I wanted to honour them. My intentions were pure and pro-Jewish in every way."

In a response to a Kotaku inquiry about the game last week, the Anti-Defamation League had urged Genis to cancel the launch in January, calling it "a crude effort to depict Jewish resistance during this painful period." As we pointed out last week the ADL praised the film Inglorious Basterds for doing basically the same thing.

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C-SPAN SCOTUS Schwarzenegger v. EMA Arguments Audio

December 20, 2010 -

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.


Acting, Kinect and Protected Speech

December 10, 2010 -

Is acting protected speech, and if so, is acting in a video game - especially in the age of motion sensing console devices - protected speech as well? This is the theory thrown out in a thought provoking post called "Is Playing a Video Game Conduct or Speech? Lessons from Microsoft Kinect" over at Law Law Land Blog.

Steven Smith kicks that idea around a bit, comparing the acting kids do in video games to the actions in a school play. The idea begins at GameStop, where Smith is buying a game for his daughter:

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Opinion: Games Don't Deserve Protection

December 7, 2010 -

The Star Press (which describes itself as the "news source for East Central Indiana") writer Jeffrey M.. McCall pens a two-page editorial called "Violent video games not an issue worthy of First Amendment protection," in which he attempts to lay out a case for Schwarzenegger v. EMA.

First, an explanation as to what the author thinks the entertainment industry really wants.. apparently it isn't freedom of expression:

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Research: Negative Comment Threads Are Longer

December 7, 2010 -

..And in other news, the sky is blue. What makes some comment threads longer than others? Bad attitudes and surly comments, apparently. That is the conclusion of a study about online interaction conducted by a team of Slovenian and British researchers .

A group of Slovenian and British researchers used a technique called "sentiment analysis" to identify emotional content in BBC's online discussion forums and digg.com.

The team's special algorithms searched for keywords, emoticons, and "subtle linguistic markers" like misspellings, which were then used to calculate a "happiness score" for each post. The researchers found that longer discussion threads tended to be overwhelmingly emotional and negative than shorter discussions threads. The longer threads tended to begin with negative comments, researchers found.

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Editorial Hopes Law against “Poison” Games Sets Precedent

November 12, 2010 -

An article penned by the Editorial Board of the Oregonian calls violent games “poison to the teen mind,” and cites “a fragmented but growing body of research,” to back its hopes that the California legislation will at least “find footing” in order to “set a promising example.”

The opinion piece states that Schwarzenegger vs EMA is not exclusively about free speech, since the law does not seek an outright ban on violent games.

The California law, according to the Oregonian, would “simply prevent the neighborhood video store clerk from deciding to sell ‘Postal 2’ to a 14-year-old.”

The editorial continued, stating:

Should the Industry Embrace or Reject Limbaugh as Game Backer

November 10, 2010 -

Rush Limbaugh recently defended videogames after a caller to his talk show brought up the subject of Schwarzenegger vs. EMA, but is Limbaugh someone that the game industry even wants on its side?

Limbaugh used the case to rail against an over abundance of government and liberalism, asking the caller to “Join me when the government gets involved in all these other behavioral and speech things that they try to tell you and control us we can't do.” He added that he was “glad” that the case was taking place, as it would push these topics (over-governing and liberalism) into the mainstream, alerting people “to what’s happening throughout society.”

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Word Cloud Illustrates Most Used Terms in SCOTUS Arguments

November 4, 2010 -

Combine relatively new technology with the transcripts from Tuesday’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court for Schwarzenegger vs. EMA and what do you get? A rather interesting word cloud that visually illustrates the most commonly used words throughout the proceedings.

Fast Company analyzed the transcripts and infered by the prominence of words like "obscenity," "know," "whether," and "think" in the cloud that the matter is ultimately philosophical.

Indeed, in looking at the cloud, it is fascinating that the word “think” is represented in larger type than “know.”

Fast Company offered:

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Limbaugh Backs Videogame Side in Schwarzenegger vs. EMA

November 1, 2010 -

Believe it or not conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh recently came to the defense of videogames during a recent call to his radio show (thanks Kotaku!).

21-year old caller Cory from Waterville, Ohio posed the question to Limbaugh, asking if Schwarzenegger vs. EMA was a “relevant thing that the Supreme Court should ever be even considering.”

Limbaugh, in answering said that since he was 21 years old, he has “been concerned about the infringements on free speech that come from Democrat regimes and courts because I'm in the free speech business.”

Saying that he was "glad" that the case was happening, Limbaugh continued:

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Game Developer Argues for Free Speech in Post Editorial

November 1, 2010 -

Game developer Daniel Greenberg (pictured) has authored a Washington Post opinion piece in which he argues that the Supreme Court should rule that videogames are free speech when it eventually rules on Schwarzenegger vs. EMA.

As a game developer, Greenberg called himself “disheartened and a little perplexed” at seeing games compared to cigarettes and alcohol by California State Senator Leland Yee, and he wondered “how government bureaucrats are supposed to divine the artistic value that a video game has for a 17-year-old.”

In describing newer games such as BioShock, Fable 2 and Fallout 3, Greenberg wrote:

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

Seven Zombies Awarded $165,000

August 23, 2010 -

"Brains! Brains!" That is what seven plaintiffs must have screamed as police arrested them for dressing up as zombies in a sassy protest against mindless consumerism in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Star Tribune reports that the Minneapolis city attorney's office has decided to pay seven zombies and their attorney $165,000. The settlement, which was approved by the Minneapolis City Council on Friday, is the end result of a federal lawsuit the seven filed after they were arrested and jailed for two days simply for dressing up like zombies and shambling along the streets of downtown Minneapolis on July 22, 2006, to protest "mindless" consumerism.

6 comments | Read more

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."

9 comments | Read more

Does God Hate Nerds More Than Stupid People?

July 16, 2010 -

Kotaku reports that the notorious Westboro Baptist Church (who you may know better as the "God Hates Fags" sign wielding congregation out of Kansas) will be in San Diego next week to protest the "idolatrous worship" taking place at Comic-Con (thanks to Shoutbox user Rodrigo Ybáñez García for the tip!).

The activity will happen on July 22. To get an idea of where this group is coming from you need look no further than comments in its schedule of events section on its web site:

71 comments | Read more

Happy 4th of July!

July 2, 2010 -

The staff at Game Politics would like to wish our readers a safe, happy and healthy Independence Day. The coverage we provide here is rooted in protecting the freedoms we currently have as gamers and consumers, so we find this particular holiday compelling and important. We also enjoy the occasional steak, burger, hotdog, beer, soda and late night fireworks.

We hope that you will indulge in these things as well and be thankful for the freedoms all of are afforded under the constitution. We just wish more politicians and activists that stand against the things we find important would see things our way, but I suppose that is one of the reasons why celebrating independence and freedom of speech is so great. Game Politics is certainly about voices being heard; it is one of the few websites on the internet that brings together all kinds of people with all kinds of belief systems and political leanings to discuss issues we all think are important - and usually in a civilized fashion.

For that I am personally thankful, as hokey as all of that sounds.

 

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FTC Backpedals on Newspaper Rescue Plan

June 11, 2010 -

It looks like the folks at the top of the Federal Trade Commission are distancing themselves from the fairly controversial proposal to save the newspaper industry - if the Wall Street Journal is to be believed. The "working paper on reinventing the media" was released on May 24 and widely criticized by most everyone as ludicrous. The report looked at ways to save the newspaper industry by charging fees to news aggregator sites that source newspapers, and taxes on electronics like iPads, laptops and Kindles. Money collected from these and other methods would then be redistributed to traditional media outlets.

So how is the FTC distancing itself from the plan? From the top down. No doubt after seeing a Rasmussen poll that showed a majority of Americans loathed such a plan, the FTC's top man has backpedaled as if he had nothing to do with it at all. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday, FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz called the plan to tax devices "a terrible idea." But tax aside, it seem that the FTCV has not abandoned the idea altogether.

14 comments | Read more

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.”

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Matthew Wilsonyes it help a sub section of the poor, but hurt both the middle and upper class. in the end way more people were hurt than helped. also, it hurt most poor people as well.04/16/2014 - 12:13am
SeanBJust goes to show what I have said for years. Your ability to have sex does not qualify you for parenthood.04/15/2014 - 9:21pm
NeenekoSo "worked" vs "failed" really comes down to who you think is more important and deserving04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoThough I am also not sure we can say NYC failed. Rent control helped the people it was intended for and is considered a failure by the people it was designed to protect them from.04/15/2014 - 7:04pm
NeenekoIf they change the rules, demand will plummet. Though yeah, rent control probably would not help much in the SF case. I doubt anything will.04/15/2014 - 1:35pm
TheSmokeyOnline gamer accused of murdering son to keep playing - http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Crime/2014/04/15/21604921.html04/15/2014 - 11:50am
Matthew Wilsonyup, but curent city rules do not allow for that.04/15/2014 - 11:00am
ZippyDSMleeIf SF dose not start building upwards then they will price people out of the aera.04/15/2014 - 10:59am
Matthew Wilsonthe issue rent control has it reduces supply, and in SF case they already has a supply problem. rent control ofen puts rent below cost, or below profit of selling it. rent control would not fix this issue.04/15/2014 - 10:56am
NeenekoRent control is useful in moderation, NYC took it way to far and tends to be held up as an example of them not working, but in most cases they are more subtle and positive.04/15/2014 - 10:24am
PHX CorpBeating Cancer with Video Games http://mashable.com/2014/04/14/steven-gonzalez-survivor-games/04/15/2014 - 9:21am
Matthew Wilsonwhat are you saying SF should do rent control, that has never worked every time it has been tried. the issue here is a self inflicted supply problem imposed by stupid laws.04/15/2014 - 8:52am
E. Zachary KnightNeeneko, Government created price controls don't work though. They may keep prices down for the current inhabitants, but they are the primary cause of recently vacated residences having astronomical costs. Look at New York City as a prime example.04/15/2014 - 8:50am
NeenekoI think free markets are important, but believe in balance. Too much of any force and things get unstable.04/15/2014 - 7:25am
NeenekoWell, the traditional way of keeping prices down is what they are doing, controls on lease termination and tax code, but it will not be enough in this case.04/15/2014 - 7:24am
Matthew WilsonI said that already04/14/2014 - 4:22pm
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, The could also lower prices by increasing supply. Allow high rise apartment buildings to be built to fulfill demand and prices will drop.04/14/2014 - 3:48pm
Matthew Wilsonthe only way they could keep the price's down, would be to kick out google, apple, amazon, and other tech companies, but that would do a ton of economic damage to SF, but I am a major proponent of free markets04/14/2014 - 2:54pm
NeenekoThe community people are seeking gets destroyed in the process, and the new people are not able to build on themselves. Generally these situations result in local cultural death in a decade or so, and no one wins.04/14/2014 - 2:09pm
NeenekoWell yes, that is the 'free market', but the market is only a small piece of a much larger system. The market does not always do the constructive thing.04/14/2014 - 2:06pm
 

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