Jenner & Block

Court Rules Oklahoma Violent Video Game Law is Likely Unconstitutional

In another victory for Jenner & Block's video game industry clients, a federal court recently issued a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of a state law that would have criminalized the display, sale, or other dissemination of violent video games to minors, because it is likely a violation of free speech.

In granting the Firm's motion for a preliminary injunction, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma said that strong arguments were presented by the Firm that the law contains unconstitutional content-based restrictions on video game makers' freedom of speech and that the Act's language was unconstitutionally vague.  The law, effective November 1, amended Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statues to add a new category of material that is "harmful to minors" and included language that reaches "inappropriate violence" in video games. 

"There can be no irreparable harm to a [government entity] when it is prevented from enforcing an unconstitutional statue because it is always in the public interest to protect First Amendment liberties," the Court said in issuing the injunction. 

Since 2003, the Firm has successfully challenged similar laws in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Louisiana and Washington. 

Partners Paul M. Smith and Katherine A. Fallow and Associates Matthew S. Hellman, Duane Pozza and Elizabeth Valentina are representing the Entertainment Software Association and Entertainment Merchants Association in this matter. 

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