SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A federal judge ruled on Monday a California law to label violent video games and bar their sale to minors was unconstitutional, prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to say he would appeal the ruling.
California passed a law in 2005 regulating video games with strong support from Schwarzenegger, the former star of many violent action films. Legislators argued violent video games could bring psychological harm and spark aggressive behavior in minors.
The Video Software Dealers Association and the Entertainment Software Association promptly sued to block the law, arguing their games were protected under the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
Judge Ronald Whyte, who had previously granted a preliminary injunction against the law, issued a permanent order that also cited conclusions from judges facing similar laws in other states.
“At this point, there has been no showing that violent video games as defined in the Act, in the absence of other violent media, cause injury to children,” he wrote in his decision. “In addition, the evidence does not establish that video games, because of their interactive nature or otherwise, are any more harmful than violent television, movies, Internet sites or other speech-related exposures.”
“Although some reputable professional individuals and organizations have expressed particular concern about the interactive nature of video games, there is no generally accepted study that supports that concern.”
Schwarzenegger, who once starred in the “Terminator” movies, said he would appeal the case to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“I signed this important measure to ensure that parents are involved in determining which video games are appropriate for their children,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
“Many of these games are made for adults and choosing games that are appropriate for kids should be a decision made by their parents.”
In his ruling, Judge Whyte said he was sympathetic to the goals of the legislation, but said it improperly set free speech restrictions.