[JURIST] US District Court Judge Ronald Whyte issued a permanent injunction Monday against a 2005 California law [PDF text] restricting the sale or rental of violent video games to minors, agreeing with the Video Software Dealers Association and the Entertainment Software Association [trade websites] that the law was an unconstitutional infringement on the industry's First Amendment free speech rights. Whyte indicated that while the court was sympathetic to the state's agenda, the restriction cannot stand absent evidence that violent video games are "more harmful than violent television, moves, Internet sites or other speech-related exposures." California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Monday that his government will appeal the ruling [press release].
The bill, signed into law by Schwarzenegger in October 2005, prohibited the sale or rental of violent video games to minors under the age of 17, and required retailers to label violent games. In December 2005, Whyte issued a temporary injunction [JURIST report] against the enforcement of the law after industry groups filed a lawsuit [JURIST report; EMA backgrounder]. Judges have struck down similar laws as unconstitutional in Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, and Louisiana [JURIST reports]. Reuters has more.