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CONTACT: Dan Hewitt – dhewitt@theESA.com or 202-223-2400
California Taxpayers To Reimburse Video Game Industry For Costs From Failed Schwarzenegger Supreme Court Case
Industry to Donate Portion of Funds for After-School Education Programs
January 26, 2012 – WASHINGTON, DC – The state of California agreed to reimburse the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) $950,000 for legal fees incurred from the trade association’s recent U.S. Supreme Court victory, ESA announced today. The U.S. Supreme Court case was the latest result of then-Governor Schwarzenegger and State Senator Leland Yee’s (D-San Francisco) ill-fated attempt to impose clearly unconstitutional regulations on video games. ESA announced it would donate a portion of the proceeds to develop after-school educational programs for underserved communities in Oakland and Sacramento.
ESA’s new charitable education initiative, which will launch in the Spring of 2012, will harness young peoples’ natural passion for playing and making video games and connect them to the development of critical 21st Century job skills.
“Senator Yee and Governor Schwarzenegger wasted more than $1 million in taxpayer funds at a time when Californians could ill afford it,” said Michael D. Gallagher, president and CEO of ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. “However we feel strongly that some of these funds should be used to improve services for California’s youth.”
In Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association/Entertainment Software Association, ESA was the lead respondent in defending the rights of video game creators and consumers. The Supreme Court voted 7-2 last June to reject a 2005 California law regulating the distribution of computer and video games. The Court deemed the statute an unconstitutional violation of free speech. In the landmark decision, the nation’s highest Court affirmed that free speech protections apply equally to video games as they do to other forms of creative expression like books, movies and music. As the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, “California’s effort to regulate violent video games is the latest episode in a long series of failed attempts to censor violent entertainment for minors…Even where the protection of children is the object, the constitutional limits on governmental action apply.”
Including reimbursements already paid from the two California lower court rulings, the state will have paid $1,327,000 to ESA. Other states attempts to unconstitutionally regulate video games resulted in ESA receiving $1,773,000, totaling $3.1 million in legal fees paid to ESA.
As of 2009, the computer and video game industry added more than $2.1 billion to California’s economy. According to Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2009 Report, entertainment software companies directly and indirectly employ nearly 53,000 Californians with an average salary of more than $97,000 per year at 267 facilities.
Gallagher restated that the video game industry still welcomes the opportunity to work with officials in California and across the nation to raise awareness about the Entertainment Rating Software Board (ESRB) video game rating system and other tools, like parental controls, that the industry voluntarily provides to parents to help them make informed entertainment choices for their families.
The Entertainment Software Association is the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and public affairs needs of companies publishing interactive games for video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers and the Internet. The ESA offers services to interactive entertainment software publishers including a global anti-piracy program, managing the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), conducting business and consumer research, and representing the video game industry in federal and state government relations, First Amendment and intellectual property protection efforts. For more information, please visit www.theESA.com.