Good news! Courts overturn ban, file games as 'free speech'

Many of you may remember judge Limbaugh (yes, they’re releated, he’s the cousin of Rush) said videogames didn’t deserve first ammendment protection because they didn’t convey any ideas. This is from the same guy, by the way, who did rule that spam faxes were Constitutionally protected. Well, an appeals court flatly rejected that nonsence and stated, “we are obliged to recognize that 'they are as much entitled to the protection of free speech as the best of literature”.

This is just an overturning of an incredibly stupid ruling by a federal appeals court, but I doubt anyone is going to pursue this much further. Nonetheless, this is good news for the industry.

CNN has a more detailed account.

I like where the court “lambasted the ‘vague generality’ of the psychologist’s testimony” that games cause mental damage.


I sometimes think the whole appeals thing is crazy. In how it can make a case go on for years with this and that motions, but then there’s a case like this that shows the positive in the system.

Well, this and the innocent people taken off death row.


Not to pick nits, but the regulation that Limbaugh upheld wasn’t a ban per se so much as it was a regulation of kids’ access to violent games. As such, I’m not particularly against such regulation (although I’d perfer an industry equivalent, such as the movies’ rating system.)

I’d like to read the appeals court ruling, I’ve always felt that Limbaugh made a mistake in basing his opinion on games’ supposed lack of First Amendment rights. That just doesn’t make sense in a world where the same amendment protects “Piss Christ” and a jean jacket with “Fuck the Pigs” emblazoned on it. Had Limbaugh based his ruling on resonable time, place, and manner restriction on first amendment rights that the Supreme Court has approved, I wonder if the appeal would have turned out differently.

You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t have used the term “ban” even though I did know what the ruling was about. It was groundwork for legislation that has recently been passed in Washington state about restricting access to M-rated games for minors. What worried me was that Limbaugh didn’t even see games as expression and thus not protected by the First Amendment and could conceivably be the foundation for limiting access by adults.

I don’t know what most people’s opinion is of the IGDA, but they filed a friend of the court brief defending videogames as an artform that may have played some role in today’s ruling.