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Games are not a protected form of free speech.
May 1st 2002, 13:53 CEST by Nova Z

Or at least, that's what the Chief Justice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri has ruled.

I don't need to say anything on this, you can read about it here.
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Home » Topic: Games are not a protected form of free speech.

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#1 by Neale
2002-05-01 14:22:56
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
This, combined with all the furore over Columbine and the incident in Germany recently, could really pose some problems for the game industry. However, the money brought in from games should ultimately protect it somewhat. I hope.

Eradicators! - www.eradicators.co.uk
#2 by Matt Perkins
2002-05-01 14:26:41
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Money talks...  but does the game industry have its people 'talking' to the right people?  I don't know.

I did once; I might do it again if jafd says it's all right.
#3 by Bailey
2002-05-01 14:45:26
Eh. It would seem to me, if they can take three games with no plot and one imaginary game to make the original ruling, this can be challenged easily with any dozen thinking man's games that have an actual plot behind them.

Now I'm obligated to interrupt my leisurely afternoon and get into a street fight.
#4 by LPMiller
2002-05-01 14:53:49
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
Christ, it could be challenged by a six year old with "Seseme Street Presents: Elmo's Guide to the Supreme Court."

I believe I can fly......urk.
#5 by Scott Miller
2002-05-01 15:12:21
scottmi11er@hotmail.com
Good MSN article on the this topic

"A game should not be judged only on its appearance. It should be played before drawing conclusions." - Miyamoto
#6 by "flamethrower"
2002-05-01 15:13:15
i never got this - all media content should be available for sale under freedom of speech?

should race-hated be protected under freedom of speech?

anti-gay discrimination? anti-religion discrimination? anti-paedophile discrimination?




you know who wants to piggy back such important debates and legislative quangles? 3dr using the parody rulings so they can rip-off other people's games to give Duke some lines!!


no, really, the point is id software owe a lot of mourning mothers a lot of money
#7 by Post-It
2002-05-01 15:25:11
keithlee@speakeasy.net
I keep hearing that the ISDA really dropped the ball on this one. Like they just sent the judge descriptions of games, and said that games held character development, plot, themes, etc. And they only sent him the four crappy games that PA listed. Stuff like Mortal Combat (they're spelling) and The Resident of Evil Creek (not even a game). So is anyone who is a member of the ISDA like to speak out on the subject?

Bad game designs are the new crates
-Greg
#8 by "flamethrower"
2002-05-01 15:33:11
fucking awsome article, scott

here's the summary

thankfully, I don't think that-five pages of "Gaming Is Doomed"-'s something we have to worry about anytime soon, as Judge Limbaugh's ruling should be fairly easy to have overturned



Niggling point: he makes it like only modern games can fill freedom of speech but older games can't. Gives examples of PACMAN and FROGGER vs METAL GEAR SOLID 2 or DEUS EX. Well how about those Infocom games. Or WWIII simulator/avoidance simulator Theatre Europe. Or the high-concept 8-bit Deus Ex Machina. Or any other game from the 1980s that patently had a story, idea, or concept; be it factual-based or fictional.

In other words, like the industry sap, he is guilty of "imperfect defense".
#9 by Ashiran
2002-05-01 15:59:06
I don't care about how many US judges decide stuff like that. Even with the fact that USA based game companies might suffer from this, for anyone who lives outside of the US this ruling is completly irrelevant.

The overall trend to blame games for all kinds of violent acts however is not.

With a smile on the lips and a hole in the head.
#10 by Ashiran
2002-05-01 16:05:11
And frankly if I see the line-up of games given to the good judge to review I don't think it's really odd he reached this decision.

So I have full confidence that when given a proper representation of games it will be a whole different ballgame.

With a smile on the lips and a hole in the head.
#11 by Matt Perkins
2002-05-01 16:16:10
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
flamethrower:
Whether you like the content or not, nothing should be out-lawed...  By choosing to say somethings are wrong, you are making that decision for other people, which doesn't work out.

People have to make choices...

Think about it from the other side...  what if you aren't making the laws and someone bans something you really like because they say it's bad...  you're fucked.

I did once; I might do it again if jafd says it's all right.
#12 by MCorleone
2002-05-01 16:16:12
Doesn't the whole German incident count in favour of video games?  I thought violent video games were banned in Germany?  Don't you have to replace humans as robots and have green or non-red blood?  If they've already taken those precautions there and they still had a nut-job play Terminator then it seems to me that they can mark that precaution off as a failure.  

There are always going to be nuts.  Society just can't accept that science can't cure what nature has created in error so they keep looking for scapegoats.

Build a man a fire and you'll keep him warm for the rest of the night.  Light a man on fire and you'll keep him warm for the rest of his life.
#13 by steve
2002-05-01 16:23:07
www.manic-pop-thrills.com
I don't care about how many US judges decide stuff like that. Even with the fact that USA based game companies might suffer from this, for anyone who lives outside of the US this ruling is completly irrelevant.

Yeah, it's totally irrelevant, because no one outside of the US would emulate boneheaded legislation, like, say, our beloved DMCA.

Oops, they are.

It's naive to think no one outside the US would suffer from rulings like this. It would limit the content of games produced throughout the world. With the world's two biggest markets, Germany and the US, cracking down on violent content, say goodbye to bloody fun.

My life is a patio of fun.
#14 by deadlock
2002-05-01 16:35:32
http://www.deadlocked.org/
I think the point that he was making was that this particular ruling is irrelevant outside of the US (outside of Missouri ?). Just like almost any other ruling made in any court in the US (apart from trade restrictions etc.).

Jafd! Warren! Stop bickering or I'll be forced to change your opinions manually!
#15 by deadlock
2002-05-01 16:38:07
http://www.deadlocked.org/
steve:
say goodbye to bloody fun

It's naive to think that no-one outside of the US can produce games :P

Anyway, who's to say that a moratorium on violent games wouldn't be a good thing for the industry ? It'd almost certainly force developers to start thinking about other ways to amuse us.

Jafd! Warren! Stop bickering or I'll be forced to change your opinions manually!
#16 by Dev
2002-05-01 17:05:26
admin@techillimit.net
My response to this idiot judge:

Games are not a protected form of free speech.  Heh.     Rrright.  Maybe they aren't protected now, but they should be considered as such very soon.

Video games should be considered a protected form of speech, due to what I think are some very solid and understandable reasons.  As a society we consider books a form free speech, do we not?  Are movies not considered (to a certain extent), free speech?  How about music?  How about poetry? What about public speech?  Or being asked to relay your opinion about something? All of these, providing there is a solid thought behind them, or a message being expressed.. fit the bill exactly.  Computer games have every single element of movies, music, books, public speechs and opinions included within them.  They are a merely an extension of everything free speech is defined as, up above.   Consider computer games the "supreme" pizza of free speech, it has everything put on top and inside it.

You Mister super duper judge, are having a crisis of the "old" and mentally infirm.  You are unsure of what to do with a new and emerging form of idea sharing.  If you were a judge back in the day when rock & roll came along, I'm sure you would be there with the rest of the fools.. trying to outlaw it and put it down.  Go read the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, you'll find PC games to be a form of free speech defined by article 19.  Go on, read it.  Case closed.

Thank you, ever so much.

"If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic." -- Lewis Carroll
#17 by _Fury_
2002-05-01 17:18:36
ajhill@wi.rr.com
click

Witty Quote
#18 by HoseWater
2002-05-01 17:22:44
barneyque@hotmail.com
If all fairness, it seems the judge was not given much to work with.  Is a judge allowed to go out and do councils work for them?  I am guessing they are not. (But could be wrong.)

1968-2002 Robert 'HoseWater" Lloyd
#19 by MCorleone
2002-05-01 17:31:25
Fury, I've got your Bone Lord right here!  grabs crotch...

Build a man a fire and you'll keep him warm for the rest of the night.  Light a man on fire and you'll keep him warm for the rest of his life.
#20 by "hoodoo"
2002-05-01 17:35:18
I disagree with the ruling, but I see nothing wrong with stores adopting a policy of not selling or renting M rated games to minors. If a twelve year old wants Grand Theft Auto 3, he or she should get his parents to buy it.
#21 by Ergo
2002-05-01 17:59:20
#17

Asshole!!!! =)

"I want you to remember me just as I am...filled with murderous rage!" --Homer Simpson
#22 by _Fury_
2002-05-01 18:00:42
ajhill@wi.rr.com
Ok, I confess ... I found the installer shot on the net =)

Let me pretend though ... I'm going to my 'happy place' now..

Witty Quote
#23 by Ergo
2002-05-01 18:02:23
#22

Again, asshole!!! =)

"I want you to remember me just as I am...filled with murderous rage!" --Homer Simpson
#24 by Dev
2002-05-01 18:29:34
admin@techillimit.net
Heh, that was mean Mr Fury :)

I went to EB today, but the chick couldn't figure out when it was coming in.
They told me on Sunday, it would be out Monday, Monday evening, it would be out Tuesday, Tuesday mid-day, preorders would be available this morning between 10:-12:30PM.  Bullpucky, no copies of Morrowind in store.  I wish these people could remain solid on when the game was coming in.  I bought two copies in store at EB of the collectors edition last Friday, and now I'm wishing I hadn't.  What jerks.

"If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic." -- Lewis Carroll
#25 by theSAiNT
2002-05-01 18:40:44
csl56@wincoll.ac.uk

 i never got this - all media content should be available for sale under freedom of speech?

should race-hated be protected under freedom of speech?

anti-gay discrimination? anti-religion discrimination? anti-paedophile discrimination?


flamethrower has a point
i don't get this point either
could some intelligent american come up with a decent argument to justify this?

given that, i still believe that games should be protected under free speech. the newer games are are basically interactive movies. one may question the existance of a story line in many games but a modern action movie also begs that same question.

hopefully this case doesn't set a precedence. it would be just perfect if some uninformed Missourian judge ruins the whole industry.
#26 by jafd
2002-05-01 18:41:24
Black & White, Planescape: Torment, Ultima 7, & A Mind Forever Voyaging. What's the judge's address? I can handle the S&H on the last one. ;)

Who makes up the membership of this Interactive Digital Software Association? A bunch of publishers? Friggin' monkeys. It's almost as though they don't care about the nature or nuture of the industry.

Such thirst doesn't always permit for tact.
#27 by deadlock
2002-05-01 18:44:07
http://www.deadlocked.org/
I think it's the interactivity that worries most people; the fact that in Metal Gear Solid, it's 'you' that is choking guards from behind etc., that level of participation that you don't get in movies, which are more voyeuristic.

Jafd! Warren! Stop bickering or I'll be forced to change your opinions manually!
#28 by Foodbunny
2002-05-01 18:47:37
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
i never got this - all media content should be available for sale under freedom of speech?

should race-hated be protected under freedom of speech?

anti-gay discrimination? anti-religion discrimination? anti-paedophile discrimination?


The solution to bad speech is more speech, not less.  You won't change a racist's mind by putting tape over his mouth, and you might not even change it by debating the foundation of his beliefs with him, but you can influence others and hopefully start them thinking.  As long as you aren't actively harming others you should be allowed to say anything you feel.

This judge is a reactionary moron, and the IDSA completely dropped the ball on this case.  It'll be overturned and hopefully next time they'll learn to send games with content instead of just saying they exist.

They're cute, they're cuddly and jam shoots out their heads.  I want 'em all!
#29 by Ergo
2002-05-01 18:57:36
This won't hold water with a higher court. I'd be willing to bet that this judge has probably never touched a computer.

"I want you to remember me just as I am...filled with murderous rage!" --Homer Simpson
#30 by mgns
2002-05-01 19:03:05
Bet all you want mister - anything is possible in the wonderful world of US courts.

professional philosophical level design monkey.
#31 by MCorleone
2002-05-01 19:16:04
26:  Jafd - What?  Nature or Neuter?

Build a man a fire and you'll keep him warm for the rest of the night.  Light a man on fire and you'll keep him warm for the rest of his life.
#32 by None-1a
2002-05-01 19:59:25
flamethrower has a point
i don't get this point either
could some intelligent american come up with a decent argument to justify this?


Quite frankly they should all be protected, as long as it's just speech. As soon as it directly harms others it's crossed the line.
#33 by crash
2002-05-01 19:59:33
it'll be overturned on appeal.

just... weary.
#34 by Chris Johnson
2002-05-01 20:09:35
Flamey:

i never got this - all media content should be available for sale under freedom of speech?

should race-hated be protected under freedom of speech?

anti-gay discrimination? anti-religion discrimination? anti-paedophile discrimination?


In a word: yes.

Why?  Because while people should (and do) have the freedom to present any thought or speech (not necessarily action) that they wholeheartedly believe or use for parody, people also have the right to ignore them completely.

And when these people express their close-minded idiocy, it begins a dialogue by those with cooler heads and greater numbers to work on diminishing the numbers of the Dumb even more.  Hopefully.

Plus I'd rather have these types screaming to the hills and valleys their idiot points of view.  Makes it easier to keep tabs on them.

Ashiran:
I don't care about how many US judges decide stuff like that. Even with the fact that USA based game companies might suffer from this, for anyone who lives outside of the US this ruling is completly irrelevant.


Except for other governemnts saying "shit, we have a country that trumpets freedom of speech at every turn allowing this sort of censorship to happen.... I KNOW we can do it now".

Plus, it affects the market.  I mean if the US developers look around and see their content and product are getting censored hand-over-fist do you really think they're going to care to keep making them?  Spending years in development to have everything need to be altered upon release to sell to the "home crowd" if not banned completely?

MCorleone:
Doesn't the whole German incident count in favour of video games?  I thought violent video games were banned in Germany?  Don't you have to replace humans as robots and have green or non-red blood?  If they've already taken those precautions there and they still had a nut-job play Terminator then it seems to me that they can mark that precaution off as a failure.  


The news articles out of Germany made sure to point out that the kid was part of a CounterStrike clan and played fairly often.  In fact they spent more print on that and his "violent comic book collection" than on his veiled threats teachers and his tumultuous relaltionship with his own parents (which were both reported, but almost as afterthoughts, at least in reports I've seen).

This judge is a reactionary moron, and the IDSA completely dropped the ball on this case.  It'll be overturned and hopefully next time they'll learn to send games with content instead of just saying they exist.


The judge is a rightwing moron who is more interested in politciking than he is in doing his job.

The case was not about whether or not games were an expression of ideas or not.  It was about restricting audience to more mature themed games, such as the MPAA ratings restrict movies from their respective audiences based on who is presumably old enough to be able to handle the material presented.  The judge overstepped his bounds by presenting a ruling unrelated to the case, and by stcking his own bias onto the ruling, started a really bad precedent.  It shouldn't stand up in court (an almost identical bit of legislation from Indianapolis(?) was struck down prior to this one being written up, I believe), but the fact that the judge made his ruling based on personal bias and political reasons rather than the merits (and actual subject) of the case is reprehensible.

Of course, when you're related to Rush Limbaugh, I guess that's par for the course really.
#35 by Matt Perkins
2002-05-01 21:17:57
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
<sarcasm>Wait a second...  like a judge wouldn't actually just uphold the law, but instead use it further his own carear and political agenda...  I don't believe it.</sarcasm>

I did once; I might do it again if jafd says it's all right.
#36 by jafd
2002-05-01 22:37:06
I'm having a hard time believing that the judge was given four games, selected by one clearly biased party, and actually thought that he was doing anything but using his position of power to promote his own point of view.

Certainly the vast majority of those who hold judgeships aren't about to bend the law to fit their own personal beliefs, but it shouldn't be much of a surprise to find that some do, if they're somehow allowed to get away with it.

I would like to know more about this case. It smells.

Such thirst doesn't always permit for tact.
#37 by steve
2002-05-01 22:41:15
www.manic-pop-thrills.com
It's naive to think that no-one outside of the US can produce games :P

It's naive to think people outside of the US would produce games they can't sell within the United States and Germany without significant modifications. It's equally naive to think Europe wouldn't adopt similar measures to whatever the US and/or Germany decide. And without a market to sell your games, they won't get produced.

My life is a patio of fun.
#38 by Duality
2002-05-01 22:43:21
Dualipuff@yahoo.com http://stratoscape.ath.cx/
Its naive to think that you can keep beginning a statement with the phrase 'its naive to think...'

lpm is the new pet rocks.
#39 by Hugin
2002-05-01 22:46:12
lmccain@nber.org
It's naiive to think Crappers can't/won't run a riff into into the ground if given half a chance. :p
#40 by crash
2002-05-01 22:52:32
steve:

It's naive to think people outside of the US would produce games they can't sell within the United States and Germany without significant modifications.

if the market's big enough, they'll do it. car makers have to significantly modify their vehicles to sell 'em in california (most stringent emission laws in the nation), but they do. porsches, bmws, lamborghini, ferrari, kia, mazda, toyota, lexus... i haven't seen a single auto manufacturer from anywhere in the world that doesn't sell cars in california. yet they all have to manufacture cars especially for california's wacky requirements.

just... weary.
#41 by Chris Johnson
2002-05-01 23:00:30
i haven't seen a single auto manufacturer from anywhere in the world that doesn't sell cars in california.


Except for Opel, Lotus (well, the Elise and Exige anyways), TVR, Vauxhall, Caterham, the new MGs, and a list that goes on and on, which don't sell their cars in the U.S. at all, because they won't adjust their vehicles to match U.S. collision laws and such, which would seriously downgrade their performance.

There are quite a few models who avoid the U.S. altogether because they choose not to modify their product to fit regulations.  Are they shooting themselves in the foot?  Hard to say, but they're certainly avoiding the market (and lessening their prospective customer-base) because of what could very well be some over-the-top regulation.  I can see software companies (or their publishers, more accurately) doing the same.
#42 by chris
2002-05-01 23:09:33
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
In fact, the availability of specialty automobiles is higher in CA than anywhere else in the country that I'm aware of. There are *assloads* of exotic cars out here.

-chris
#43 by Ergo
2002-05-01 23:13:05
Emission laws in Oregon are pretty strict as well, though only in the Willamette valley (where most of the population resides).

"I want you to remember me just as I am...filled with murderous rage!" --Homer Simpson
#44 by Chris Johnson
2002-05-01 23:19:02
Chris:  yeah.. that is the ONLY place I've seen a Qvale Mangusta outside of a magazine.

Goddamned rich-ass bastards in L.A.
#45 by None-1a
2002-05-01 23:40:10
In fact, the availability of specialty automobiles is higher in CA than anywhere else in the country that I'm aware of. There are *assloads* of exotic cars out here.


But is it higher then 4500 sold in year? Low volume manufacuers have a seperate set of requirements that match are closer to the federal requirements (making it easyer to just build all US cars to the CA requirements, with out effecting why people would buy an exotic anyway).
#46 by crash
2002-05-02 00:33:04

Except for Opel, Lotus (well, the Elise and Exige anyways), TVR, Vauxhall, Caterham, the new MGs, and a list that goes on and on, which don't sell their cars in the U.S. at all, because they won't adjust their vehicles to match U.S. collision laws and such, which would seriously downgrade their performance.

Opel used to. Lotus does. dunno about TVR, Vauxhall, Caterham; never heard of those. MG used to. didn't MG get purchased by someone, though? in any case, compare/contrast size of total market vs. the manufacturers that don't sell in the US, and i'm fairly certain it'd fit comfortably in "margin of error" territory.

just... weary.
#47 by "Fallon"
2002-05-02 00:34:47
noneof@yourbusiness.org http://comingsoon
I like to play games on my computer.

- Fallon
#48 by LPMiller
2002-05-02 00:39:53
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
wonder if they'll get the new Yugo though.

I wouldn't call Californa laws wacky, though sometimes they put the cart before the horse.

I believe I can fly......urk.
#49 by Chris Johnson
2002-05-02 01:01:55
Opel used to. Lotus does. dunno about TVR, Vauxhall, Caterham; never heard of those. MG used to. didn't MG get purchased by someone, though? in any case, compare/contrast size of total market vs. the manufacturers that don't sell in the US, and i'm fairly certain it'd fit comfortably in "margin of error" territory.


Opel used to.  Lotus can only import the Esprit (which is why I specifically mentioned other car models... add the 340R to that list too).  MG used to.  Until regs changed and went beyond what those companies were willing to do to export their vehicles (yes there are other factors involved, but I know that regs, especially our crash regs, are one of the main sticking points).

MG is now a Rover/BMW brand I believe.  They still have their own MG nameplates tho.  Opel and Vauxhall are both GM nameplates.  TVR's an old school performance nameplate (I think they used to be available here as well).  

There are other brands that I didn't mention.  Offhand, I can think of Ariel, Citroen (I don't believe they import here anymore), Daihatsu (except I think they just lost out in the marketplace, admittedly),  Morgan, Holden, Noble, Proton, Skoda, and Westfield, offhand.  A few are sepcialized brands.  Others, like Skoda, Citroen, Daihatsu TVR, Vaufhall, and Opel (again offhand) are fairly well known and quite respectable brands in terms of sales, and have quite a bit of interest from people in the States, especially the more brazen performance brands (Cerain Opels and Vauxhalls, Citroens, TVRs, etc.)

I know specifically that TVRs aren't imported due to regulations (which was the word direct form their offices when I expressed interest in the Tuscan a while back.  Same news for the Opel and Vauxhall models I expressed interest in).

(Any of the vehicles CAN be imported through a broker, natch, but are illegal to drive on the street, which is what I'm getting at.   Those who import them usually do as collectors or for racing purposes only.  They can;t be licensed for general driving tho)
#50 by Chris Johnson
2002-05-02 01:17:19
By the way, is 40 posts a record for "quickest thread hijacking with no chance of return"?
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