Declares Digital Format a Form of First Amendment Speech

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WASHINGTON ( -- In a regional action that has national implications, a U.S. Court of Appeals in Missouri ruled that video games are a protected form of First
Image from Grand Theft Auto, a video game that has the reputation as one of the most violent.
Amendment speech and overturned a St. Louis ordinance that made it unlawful to sell or rent violent digital entertainments to minors.

In explaining its decision, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit wrote, "If the First Amendment is versatile enough to [as the Supreme Court said] 'shield painting of Jackson Pollock, music of Arnold Schoenber or "Jabberwocky" verse of Lewis Carroll' we see no reason why the pictures, graphic design, concept art, sounds music, stories and narrative present in a video games are not entitled to similar protection."

Inadequate evidence
The court also said St. Louis County had not presented adequate evidence that children were being harmed by the games and it warned that using the claim of protecting children was insufficient.

Some observers believe the case could affect various attempts in Congress to limit the sale of violent video games.

The St. Louis County ordinance was approved in October 2000, and made it unlawful to sell, rent or make available for minors violent video games without parental consent. It was challenged by the Interactive Digital Software Association, the video-game industry's trade group, as well as by sellers and providers of amusement games.

Video game industry
Various publishing, movie industry and recording industry groups entered the case through friend of the court briefs.

Neither the software association nor St. Louis County returned calls immediately.

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