ESA wants California to pay its legal fees

Posted by Mark Raby

The Entertainment Software Association is now going after the state of California for reimbursements in legal fees.

The ESA claims it is entitled to get all the money back that it spent ensuring that California's ridiculous violent video game law was declared unconstitutional and tossed out of the books.

The law, which managed to be passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger despite rampant controversy and calls from First Amendment advocates, was unconstitutional on the face of it.

In addition to somehow saying video games were not protected speech and different from every single other form of media, the law was unbelievably vague and would have led to all sorts of confusion had it ever been allowed to actually be in place.

Moreover, it was incredibly misguided by characterizing video games as a medium filled with rape and torture simulators, when arguably no retail game would ever fit such a description.

So the Supreme Court - thanks to an effort from the ESA - heard the case and agreed that it was stupid (though not in so many words).

"From the start of this misguided legislation, then-Governor Schwarzenegger and specific California legislators knew that their efforts to censor and restrict expression were, as court after court ruled, unconstitutional and thus a waste of taxpayers’ money, government time, and state resources," said ESA president Michael Gallagher.

Of course, this comes at a time when California is in the middle of a budget crisis and can barely afford to pay its own debt, much less face a new lawsuit. The ESA is seeking $1.1 million in reimbursements. It has been successful in collecting similar settlements from other states that tried to pass the same kind of unconstitutional law.