World ends. Screenshots, community reaction at 11.
And remember: You heard about this remarkable video game on Vleeptron first.
One Commenter -- you know who you were -- wondered what the big deal was; bullying (active and passive) is just a normal, eternal part of school and adolescence.
The story below raises fundamental U.S. Constitutional First Amendment questions regarding Prior Restraint and Free Expression.
It also has stuff in it about beating the shit out of the fat four-eyed little pimple-faced goth nerd asshole in gym class.
I dunno. Just read the article. Leave A Comment.
Thursday 12 October 2006
Florida judge gets tough
Game maker Take-Two faces a court review of the prerelease game to see if it violates public nuisance laws.
by Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
A Florida judge has ordered the maker of "Grand Theft Auto" to hand over an unreleased video game set in a high school, a move that raises questions about the legal protections that games enjoy.
The judge is being asked to grant a partial injunction against sales of the forthcoming Take-Two Interactive Software game, called "Bully" and set at a fictional private school named Bullworth Academy. "Bully" is scheduled for release on Tuesday.
A Florida judge has ordered Take-Two Interactive Software to hand over a forthcoming video game set in a high school environment.
Bottom line: The move raises troubling questions about the legal protections that games enjoy.
Ever since a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1931, the law has said that injunctions placed on material before publication run afoul of constitutional protections of freedom of speech. In a subsequent 1971 ruling, for instance, the justices warned that such an injunction "constitutes an impermissible restraint on First Amendment rights."
But in the Florida lawsuit, an anti-video game lawyer named Jack Thompson is asking for precisely that. He filed a motion on Wednesday asking the court "to grant some relief to stop the witless, crass release of this game in five days."
First Amendment scholars are alarmed at Thompson's request, especially since Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Friedman has decided to review the game to see how violent it is instead of dismissing the request out of hand.
"If it's not on the market yet, I find it hard to imagine a basis for the prepublication review of the game," said Robert Corn-Revere, a partner at law firm Davis Wright Tremaine in Washington, D.C. who has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Thompson's lawsuit likens "Bully" to a "murder simulator," alleging it will teach minors about methods of bullying and school violence. He asks the court to declare the game a "public nuisance."
That echoes the arguments the Supreme Court heard in the 1931 Near v. Minnesota case, in which the justices invalidated a state law (and injunction) regulating "scandalous" news articles as a public nuisance, Corn-Revere said.
"To extend that (argument) to speech is saying that the speech offends you," he said. "That's not a valid regulation under the First Amendment."
Is "Bully" even violent?
Take-Two declined to comment. But its Web page for "Bully" says that players will be able to
* "stand up to bullies
* get picked on by teachers
* play pranks
* win or lose the girl,
and ultimately learn to navigate the obstacles of the worst school around, Bullworth Academy -- a corrupt and crumbling prep school with an uptight facade."
("Bully" will be available for the Sony’s PlayStation 2 console; the Microsoft Xbox version was canceled.)
Thompson could not be reached for comment on Thursday. But his legal filings argue that courts should assume the worst of "Bully" -- which is being published by Take-Two's Rockstar Games subsidiary -- because of the flap over Rockstar's "Grand Theft Auto" games. In July, the Federal Trade Commission and Take-Two came to a settlement over an investigation of inappropriate sexual content in "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."
That history, coupled with Take-Two's description of its game, already caused the Miami-Dade School District to pass a resolution condemning "Bully," and led politicians in the United Kingdom to suggest that it be banned.
Some reviewers who were given early copies of "Bully," however, have concluded it does the opposite of glorify violence. A review on Wired News says, "It turns out the game doesn't glorify bullying at all." Instead, the review says, the player's missions involve defending the helpless.
David Greene, director of the First Amendment Project, likened the current flap -- over an unreleased video game that critics have not even seen--to film review boards. Decades ago, many state laws made it a criminal offense to show a motion picture that had not been submitted to a board for its review.
The Supreme Court struck down those requirements in a 1965 case called Freedman v. Maryland. Maryland's film board "fails to provide adequate safeguards against undue inhibition of protected expression, and this renders the requirement of prior submission of films to the board an invalid previous restraint," the justices concluded.
"It does really harken back to that," Greene said.
In the current view of the First Amendment's protections, Greene said, "you let the speech out there, and if it causes harm, you then decide whether you can restrict the speech or someone can be compensated for injury. What the First Amendment urges us to avoid is this idea of ... saying that something can only be distributed with approval."
Other courts that have recently considered state and municipal restrictions on video games have taken a dim view of those restrictive laws.
Probably the most influential opinion was written by libertarian-leaning judge Richard Posner of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down an Indianapolis law restricting minors' access to arcade games that might appeal to a "morbid" interest in violence.
"The common sense reaction to the Indianapolis ordinance could be overcome by social scientific evidence, but has not been," Posner wrote in 2001. "The ordinance curtails freedom of expression significantly and, on this record, without any offsetting justification."
Since then, other courts have struck down antigaming laws by adopting similar logic: Unless social science research can prove the games are actually harmful, the First Amendment's freedom of expression wins.
Missouri's St. Louis County enacted a law prohibiting anyone from selling, renting or making available "graphically violent" video games to minors without a parent's or guardian's consent. But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled (PDF here) that "before the county may constitutionally restrict the speech at issue here, the county must come forward with empirical support for its belief that 'violent' video games cause psychological harm to minors."
And in 2004, federal district judge in Washington state tossed out a law penalizing the distribution of games to minors in which harm may come to a "public law enforcement officer." The state of the research did not justify the ban, U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik ruled (PDF here).
As for "Bully," retailers Wal-Mart Stores and GameStop have also been named as defendants in the Florida lawsuit, filed in the 11th judicial circuit. A ruling regarding an injunction to halt sales of "Bully" is expected at any time.
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Read more on this story's topics and companies
Oct 14, 2006, 10:14 AM PDT
I woundJack Thompson
Oct 13, 2006, 9:35 PM PDT
The judge declined Thompson's request
Oct 13, 2006, 6:44 PM PDT
Ironic, isn't it?
Oct 13, 2006, 3:32 PM PDT
lET'S BE ABLE TO PREEMPT OTHER'S STHOUGHTS
Oct 13, 2006, 1:35 PM PDT
First of all ...
Too Old For IT
Oct 13, 2006, 12:11 PM PDT
Prosecute the suing party for supplying adult video games to children
Oct 13, 2006, 11:22 AM PDT
Just another example of abuse of the legal system
Oct 13, 2006, 8:40 AM PDT
"T" for Teen
Oct 13, 2006, 6:16 AM PDT
Commercial speech gets less protection
Oct 12, 2006, 10:31 PM PDT
There is a chance...
Oct 12, 2006, 9:28 PM PDT
* Take-Two sued for access to 'Bully'
Blog, August 16, 2006
* Are violent video games really a problem?
August 2, 2006
* FTC closes 'Grand Theft Auto' inquiry
July 21, 2006
* Judge nixes Michigan law aimed at 'violent' games
April 3, 2006
* Senators target 'graphic' video games
November 29, 2005
* The Terminator bans himself
Blog, October 11, 2005
* ESA will sue to block Michigan game law
September 14, 2005
* This is your brain on video games
Perspective, June 23, 2005
* When 'digital bullying' goes too far
June 22, 2005
* What's behind the video game witch hunt?
Perspective, June 13, 2005
* Bully gets bullied from Zeropaid.com
* Teenager plays Space Invaders with only his brain from Engadget
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