Feeds

Florida judge orders copy of Bully for review

Free speech implications

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

A US judge has ordered developer RockStar Games to hand over a pre-release copy of its controversial title 'Bully' for review. The judge will assess its content in a move that civil liberties activists say breaches free speech rights.

The decision is the result of a legal action brought against the publishers by veteran anti-game violence campaigner Jack Thompson. Thompson wants the game to be declared a "public nuisance" in Florida and blocked from sale and its rating upped from 'T', which means it can be sold to people aged 13 and older.

Ronald Friedman, a judge at Miami-Dade County Circuit Court, has ordered a copy of the game for review in a step unprecedented in recent times in the US.

Previous rulings on similar issues had established that a court's pre-publication review of material constituted a violation of first amendment rights. The first amendment of the US Constitution enshrines the right to free speech.

"In Florida you have what is called a nuisance statute which says that a private citizen can get an injunction to shut down any commercial activity that is dangerous to the public, so I think that the statute is appropriate to apply to this game," Thompson told OUT-LAW Radio last month. " I filed the lawsuit to prevent the sale of the game to school age kids, because this is where the real danger is."

"In the UK, you embody in your laws the notion that there is certain adult entertainment that shouldn't be sold to kids," he said. "No-one is trying to ban it outright, but as it stands now, regardless of the rating that the game may get, anyone of any age will be able to buy it and that is just very dangerous. America has become the land of the free and the home of the utterly depraved."

Bully is set in a boarding school and involves the player becoming a school boy who has to negotiate and sometimes fight his way through school life, with all its cliques and confrontations.

Rockstar Games, the Take Two subsidiary responsible for the game, was pilloried for its last game, Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, after a hidden sex scene was found in the game. Originally rated for people aged 17 and older, the game was re-rated as adults only after causing a political storm.

With the game due for release in under a week, doubts are beginning to emerge, though, about whether or not Bully is actually very violent. Wired journalist Clive Thompson is one of the few people to have seen the game and wrote in his review that: "it turns out the game doesn't glorify bullying at all. Indeed, it's almost precisely the opposite".

"In Bully, there's no blood, and the stakes are pretty low," wrote Thompson. "One of the biggest 'crimes' is staying out after curfew, or wandering around when you ought to be in class. Even then, all that happens is the prefects hunt you down and put you in detention, where you play word and puzzle minigames."

The Miami-Dade County Court said that the judge would review the game with a representative of Take Two. The game is released on 17th October.

See: Thompson's review.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.