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First Amendment Protections and Freedom of Expression

  • By: Kevin W. Saunders
  • In: Encyclopedia of Media Violence
  • Edited by: Matthew S. Eastin
  • Subject:Mass Communication, Aggression & Violence, Violence & Society

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” While the amendment speaks of Congress, it also protects expression against abridgment by state and local governments and by other branches of the federal government. Furthermore, although it speaks of speech and the press, the protections of the amendment reach other media, such as film and music. An interesting modern question concerns the First Amendment status of video games, which is the focus of this entry.

History

There were early cases, building on decisions that pinball machines were not included within the protection of the First Amendment, that exempted video games from First Amendment protection. These early games were simply seen as not containing ...

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