Washington -- CDT applauds today's Supreme Court decision, in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, striking down a law aimed at restricting the sale of violent video games to minors as a violation of the First Amendment. The decision upheld the previous ruling in Schwarzenegger v. EMA, in which the Ninth Circuit invalidated a California statute requiring video game distributors to label violent video games and prohibiting their rental or sale to minors.
CDT led a coalition of Internet industry groups to file an amicus brief in this case. Though the California statute did not directly seek to regulate online gaming, CDT's brief addressed the difficulties such a law would face in the online context, where age-based restrictions on access to content are prohibitively difficult to implement.
"We are very pleased that the Supreme Court has embraced the idea that voluntary ratings systems are one of the best ways to assist parents in determining what kinds of content their children can view," said John Morris, CDT General Counsel. "The video game industry continues to develop user empowerment tools that will help parents achieve this goal in a much more effective -- and constitutional -- way than the California law."
The Court's assessment of voluntary video game ratings in its decision today is consistent with how the Court has responded to censorship laws in the online context. Online, filters and other "user empowerment" tools are viewed as more effective than regulation at protecting minors.