June 05, 2003

On June 3, 2003, Jenner & Block obtained a victory for several of its video game clients, in a ruling confirming that entertainment software has the same free-speech protection as other works of art.  The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a St. Louis County, Mo., ordinance banning the rental or sale of graphically violent video games to minors violates free-speech rights.  Interactive Digital Software, et al., v. St. Louis County, Missouri, et al., No. 02-3010.

Agreeing with the Firm's arguments, the court ruled that "[i]f the first amendment is versatile enough to 'shield [the] painting of Jackson Pollock, music of Arnold Schoenberg or Jabberwocky verse of Lewis Carroll,'" then "the pictures, graphic design, concept art, sounds, music, stories, and narrative present in video games" are entitled to the same protection.  This reversed an earlier ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, which the Eighth Circuit ordered to enter an injunction prohibiting the ordinance from taking effect.

Jenner & Block's challenge to the ordinance was led by Partner Paul M. Smith, and Partner Deanne E. Maynard argued the case before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.  They were assisted by Associate David C. Belt.

To read the full text of the opinion, please click here.