SPACE INVADERS CAUSE INDIGESTION?
(This is an archived case summary)
The plaintiff wanted to open a restaurant with forty tables equipped with built-in coin-operated video games, thus allowing patrons to dine and blast space invaders at the same time. New York City licensing regulations deemed any establishment with five or more video games an arcade, and obtaining a licence for an arcade was nearly impossible in the plaintiff's region. The plaintiff sought a preliminary injunction to allow it to open its restaurant without fear of civil or criminal liability.
In assessing the merits of the injunction, the court evaluated whether there would be irreparable harm and if there was either a probable chance of success or a serious question of law. The court determined that not being able to open its restaurant would cause the plaintiff irreparable harm. However, with respect to the plaintiff's chance of success the court was not persuaded that the video games were a form of speech protected be the First Amendment. In order to enter the realm of First Amendment protection there “must be some element of information or some idea being communicated.” The court also found that the questions of law were not serious enough to merit the preliminary injunction.
America’s Best Family Showplace Corp. v. City of New York, Dept. of Bldgs