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.

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Bose says today IS F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
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.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.