FMC Files in Supreme Court Violent Video Games Case
On September 17, FMC, NAMAC and Fractured Atlas — collectively the “Arts and Music Amici” — submitted a “friends of the court” brief in the Supreme Court case Arnold Schwarzenegger v the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) and Entertainment Software Association (ESA).
In 2005, the California enacted a law prohibiting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, requiring the video games to bear special labeling for sale in the state. A violation of the act would result in a $1,000 fine for each instance. But the legislation set out a very broad definition of “violent video game,” and attempted to apply an obscenity standard used for sexual content. Our argument is based primarily on the objection that the statute itself is impermissibly vague and therefore unconstitutional. We also point out that the lack of specificity with regards to the methods and means of content distribution in the California statute is of tremendous concern for creators and producers of all media. Today’s musicians are essentially small businesses that often distribute directly to consumers via the web. Therefore, an overly broad set of content-based restrictions that fails to clearly outline who is liable could put even those entrepreneurs working out of their basements on the hook for huge damages.