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Last year's Supreme Court case on games cost California $1.8M
Last year's Supreme Court case on games cost California $1.8M
February 22, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

February 22, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Last year's major Supreme Court case on video game legislation ended up being fairly costly for California taxpayers. In its efforts to defend the now-overturned law, the state has been forced to pay fees totaling roughly $1.8 million.

The state previously agreed to pay $1.3 million to the ESA to help it recoup its legal fees -- and that's on top of an additional $500,000 the state spent on its own legal efforts, reports The Sacramento Bee.

Despite the fees, California state Senator Leland Yee, the man behind the overturned law, has no regrets about fighting to restrict the sale of violent video games to minors.

"When you fight the good fight for a cause you know is right and just, and it's about protecting kids, you don't ever regret that," he told The Bee.

Governor Jerry Brown's former chief deputy, Jim Humes, added, "I think we felt the issue was so important that it warranted the costs associated with it."

Those on the other side of the issue, however, view the situation a bit differently. Attorney Paul M. Smith, who represents the game industry, said that the industry gave the state fair warning, and that these legal fees could have been avoided.

"I think it's fair to say the industry warned the state that they were just getting themselves into a big legal mess and they would end up having to pay attorney fees -- and that's exactly what happened," he said.

During the months leading up to last summer's ruling, industry supporters argued that California's proposed law was unconstitutional, as it put unfair government restrictions on video games and thus violated the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court issued its final ruling in June 2011, and sided with the game industry with a 7-2 vote, putting video games on equal ground with other forms of media in terms of government regulation.

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james sadler
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Yay, so all of us California devs, along with the tons of people who didn't agree or even care about this legal fight get to pay for the stupid government thinking they know what is best for us. Its so easy to write checks when you know it's not your own check book.

Rebecca Richards
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Wow. They couldn't find the money to fund LIBRARIES, but they found the money to fight a court case they couldn't win.

Alex Leighton
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And that's why they can't fund libraries. Just government being government.

Darcy Nelson
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They have a right to appeal, what can you do?

Zoran Iovanovici
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Yup. California just cut another $12.5 million or so from state libraries, but approved nearly $900 million for prisons and correctional facilities. I don't think the politicians in the state know what "the good fight" actually is.

Kenneth Blaney
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$1.8 million dollars? Worth it to establish a legal precedent that video games have the same protections as other art forms. Remember, it is not true that nothing came from this. Any time a case goes to the Supreme Court someone gets something, even if all the Supreme Court does is throw the case out and deny the claim, it creates a legal precedent that lower courts can now use to rule on future cases. So that $1.8 million wasn't wasted, it went to a good cause. (Plus if not this, then it would have been some other case, all of that money is in people's salaries... which they will get paid anyway.)

Chris Hendricks
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And the current population of California is around 37 million, which divides out to less than a nickel per person. I have a hard time getting upset about this.

Jason Chen
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and that is how tax dollars are spend!!!

Kelly Kleider
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It's actually more than $1.8 million...the $1.8 mil. is for the defendant's legal costs. Assume it's at least double that (legal fees X 2) and add in whatever legislation costs were incurred.

It does point out the actual cost of stupid laws is/can be far more than people think. Maybe a CBA would have been a good idea, at the very least a worst case cost analysis.

Tyler Buser
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And this doesn't even count all the time and money it took to get the case to the SCOTUS, ignores all the courts that preceded it.