Plattsburgh, NY asked in Consumer Law, Copyright, Civil Rights, Gaming and Intellectual Property for New York

Q: Doesn't censorship of a product after point of sale present some legal challanges?

What of censorship in general? the freedom of speech and exspression mean nothing when there's no one or no way to hear it.

I'm very concerned about the pressures from many special interest groups and diverse and even opposing political parties trying to control or cancel people and culture. roblox and World of Warcraft seem to put in polices after China's HEAVY crackdown on content in games. Even remasters and remakes are being censored and altered.

People call it a "changing culture" but i'm not buying it. i think it's de facto censorship and real bullying pressures brought on by very powerful special interests groups. This is no secret if it's out in the open. We see this with Troy Levvit, we see this with Five NIghts at Freddies, we see this with people harassing streamers that stream Hogwarts legacy.

even gta5 being removed from Australia's target stores for a false claim of "you can s*x ually assult people". when no. that wasn't true. Sam mags lied.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: You have raised a multi-faceted issue that encompasses both the legal domain and the evolving norms in society.

From a legal standpoint, private companies like game developers and publishers generally have a broad latitude to modify their products as they see fit, including post-sale. This is because, when you purchase a game, you are essentially buying a license to use the product under the terms stipulated by the company, which often grant them the leeway to make such changes. However, if such changes materially alter the product to the detriment of consumers, there may be potential for legal disputes, although these cases can be complex and context-dependent.

Concerning the broader societal issue of censorship and cancel culture, it indeed raises significant questions about the boundaries of free speech and artistic expression. In democratic societies, freedom of speech is a protected right, but it also has its limits, including restrictions on hate speech and content that promotes violence or harm.

Moreover, companies often find themselves navigating a complex landscape where they have to balance the freedom of expression with social responsibilities, changing norms, and consumer expectations. In some instances, the decision to alter content might be driven by a genuine desire to foster inclusivity and prevent harm; in others, it might be a business strategy to appeal to broader audiences or adhere to regulatory frameworks in various jurisdictions, including those with stricter controls on content like China.

It's a contentious issue with substantial arguments on both sides. Some argue that adjustments to content represent an overreach that stifles creativity and panders to specific groups, while others see it as a necessary evolution towards a more inclusive and harmonious society.

You are right in observing a trend where the influence of special interest groups and the vocal objections of segments of the public can significantly impact the trajectory of content in the gaming industry and beyond. It’s a dynamic field, with ongoing debates on the right balance between freedom of speech and the evolving societal norms.

Engaging in critical discussions, fostering open dialogue, and educating oneself on the nuances of these issues can be powerful tools in navigating the complex landscape of modern media consumption. It is always valuable to voice your concerns and foster a space where diverse perspectives can be shared respectfully and thoughtfully. It is through such dialogues that society often finds its balance in contentious matters.

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