Supreme Court to hear arguments on video game law

A California law passed five years ago makes it illegal to sell or rent violent video games to minors. However, it has been struck down by two lower courts.

The Supreme Court of the United States is now taking up the case with one side arguing it's a violation of the First Amendment, and the other saying the games incite children to be violent.

"The court has to figure out, does it really want to be in some ways a nanny for things like video games or the newly emerging technologies and Internet sorts of expression?" says Deep Gulasekaram, a professor at Santa Clara University Law School who specializes in constitutional law. "And I think the court in prior cases has signaled that it really would not like to be in that position."

Six other states have also tried unsuccessfully to ban the sale or rental of violent games. So California could find it a challenge to defend its law. The law was written by State Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco.

"If in fact they strike down our law, that they will at least provide a pathway for us lawmakers as to how we might craft a narrowly tailored bill that really protects children, but that at the same time stands any First Amendment challenge," said Yee.

Game developers argue the case is important to a $10 billion industry.

"I think we have the Constitution on our side," said Ted Price, founder and CEO of Insomniac Games, who will sit in on the Supreme Court hearing. "Games have the same rights as films, television and other forms of media when it comes to freedom of expression, and I'd be really surprised if the Supreme Court didn't recognize that."

The Supreme Court's decision will be issued sometime next spring.

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