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Activision Joins Fight Against 'Dangerous, Unnecessary' California Law

Activision Joins Fight Against 'Dangerous, Unnecessary' California Law

September 21, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

September 21, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Activision's making a vocal show of support for the game industry in the upcoming Supreme Court case surrounding California's violent video game legislation. The publisher joined a growing list of media, research and other groups filing amicus briefs in the case, claiming the 2005 law creates "an unprecedented exception for unprotected speech."

According to the company's statement, the California law, which would provide government-mandated legal penalties for the sale of violent video games to minors, is "dangerous, unnecessary, and misguided, and could undermine freedom of speech protections under the First Amendment for the entire nation."

The company suggests that should this particular legislation receive the court's approval, it could open a legal route for broader-ranging media censorship. Other media organizations from the world of literature, film and television, and music have already filed their own amicus briefs in the case, as have several attorneys general and over 80 scholars and researchers.

Favoring the industry's existing self-regulatory rating and enforcement efforts -- which have been praised by the FTC -- Activision's brief is emphasized by accompanying statements from CEO Bobby Kotick.

"Our First Amendment has survived intact for 219 years amid far greater technological, historical and social challenges," says Kotick. "The argument that video games present some kind of new ominous threat that requires a wholesale reassessment of one of our nation's most treasured freedoms and to take that freedom away indiscriminately from an entire group of our population based on nothing but age is beyond absurd."

"These are the same attacks Americans have witnessed against every previous emerging entertainment medium and genre including books, comics, rock n' roll, movies, TV and the Internet. In each case, freedom prevailed," Kotick continued.

"We are thrilled to be able to be an important part of this historic effort to protect our Constitution and to ensure that video games remain vibrant form of expression for every gamer in our constituency."

Calling California's pursuit of its law "tampering with the nation's Constitution and wasting taxpayers' money," Kotick suggested the state would have been better served investing its resources in parental education and use of the game ratings system and on how to judge appropriate content.

"Video game industry is a homegrown California economic success story providing thousands of highly paid skilled jobs at the time of economic crisis," Kotick adds.

California senator Leland Yee is the bill's original author, and state Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger originally signed it into law in 2005. California's 9th Circuit Court declared it unconstitutional on free speech grounds in February 2009 -- but a state appeal now brings the statute under Supreme Court review. The court will hear the measure on November 2, and has the option of upholding it.

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