Citation Edit

Video Software Dealers Ass'n v. Maleng, 325 F.Supp.2d 1180 (W.D. Wash. 2004) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Video game manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and software associations brought a lawsuit seeking to enjoin enforcement of a Washington law that penalizes distribution of certain video games to minors on the ground that it violates the First Amendment by creating penalties for the distribution of video games to minors based solely on their content and viewpoint.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The trial court held that because the video games at issue are expressive speech that is entitled to the full protections of the First Amendment, therefore strict scrutiny applies. Thus, the law will be upheld only if the Defendants can show that the regulation is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. Here, the court stated that even if Defendants were able to show a causal connection between violent video games and real-life aggression in minors, the record does not support a finding that the law is likely to curb such aggression in a direct and material way.

The court also found that the law is not limited to the ultra-violent or the patently offensive and is far broader than what would be necessary to achieve the alleged state interest. Last, the court also found that given the fact that rights of free expression were at stake, the law was unconstitutionally vague. Thus, the court concluded that Defendants should be permanently enjoined from enforcing the law.

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