WASHINGTON - A broad entertainment industry coalition today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that found unconstitutional the 2005 California law restricting the sale and rental to minors of computer and video games deemed to be overly violent.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), Directors Guild of America, Inc. (DGA), Producers Guild of America (PGA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), Writers Guild of America West, Inc. (WGAW), Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA), National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) and Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) joined together to file an amicus brief in the case Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, which is scheduled for oral arguments on November 2.
"The history of the motion picture industry serves as a vivid illustration of the threat to First Amendment rights from the impulse to control and censor new forms of media-a threat reflected in the statute at issue before the Court. From the advent of motion pictures, a variety of state and local governments sought to restrict their content for the asserted purpose of protecting moviegoers from being exposed to harmful material," the organizations explained in their brief.
"While parents have an undoubted interest in making informed judgments concerning the suitability of exposing their children to potentially objectionable content, [California has] failed to show that the government's assistance is necessary to serve that interest," the organizations' brief continues. "And the fundamental lesson of the motion picture industry is that self-regulation can sufficiently enable parents to exercise their right to make informed judgments concerning movie content. The movie rating system has widely been praised for its effectiveness, and society's long experience with the movie rating system demonstrates that a properly designed voluntary rating system can serve the relevant parental interest without the need for content-based government regulation."
The entertainment industry coalition concluded that if the Supreme Court were to uphold California's statute, it would have a "dramatic chilling effect on the motion picture industry." Therefore, the coalition urged the Court to rule that "under settled First Amendment principles, California's statute is invalid, and the judgment of the court of appeals should be affirmed."
An electronic copy of the amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court is available here.