U.S. District Judge James Brady has issued a permanent injunction [link via Game Politics] stopping the State of Louisiana from implementing a law banning the sale of certain video games to minors. Handing down his judgement that defendants, the Entertainment Software Association had demonstrated ” a substantial likelihood of success of proving a First Amendment violation” he expressed his dumbfoundment at how the law had made the statute books in the first place, given that it had passed uncontested through a legislative committee system, the full House and Senate and then to gaining the signature of the governor.
“The court is dumbfounded that the attorney general and the state are in the position of having to pay taxpayer money as attorneys fees and costs in this lawsuit …There are lawyers at each stage of this process. Some of the members of these committees are themselves lawyers. Presumably, they have staff members who are attorneys as well. The State House and Senate certainly have staff members who are attorneys. The governor has additional attorneys the executive counsel… The Court wonders why no one objected to the enactment of this statute. In this court’s view the tax payers deserve more of their elected officials”
Brady additionally noted that the fact that similarly worded laws in a number of other states – Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois to name but three – had all been declared unconstitutional, made the decision to pass the bill even more stupid.
The law would have banned sales or rentals of games that in the average person’s opinion, appeal to a minor’s “morbid interest in violence” and show violence “patently offensive to adult standards.” Anyone selling or renting such games to minors would have faced fines of up to $2,000 and/or up to one year in prison. The author of the bill, state Rep. Roy Burrell, D-Shreveport, has already announced his intentions to have another go at drafting another law to limit sales of certain video games to children.
Meanwhile in New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, who was a great AG, also seems to have well and truly become a politician and taken the magic pill that means you have to either support or propose anything that looks like it is designed to ‘protect the children’ regardless of whether you can actually do so within the law. He is planning bill to take aim at violent videos and video games that would target the ratings of video movies and video games “that are often violent and degrading” and can hurt children who repeatedly use and view them. Spitzer says New York must “follow the lead of states like California, Illinois and Michigan and pass ‘Safe Games’ legislation” (Yes, that’s the same Illinois and Michigan laws that have been ruled unconstitutional and the Californian one which is still being held in limbo by a preliminary injunction). Remember here that Spitzer is a lawyer.
No doubt Spitzer wont want to read the latest Federal Trade Commission report to Congress on the movie, music, and video-game industries’ self-regulatory programs and their marketing of violent entertainment products to children. The report found that video game retailers have made significant progress in limiting sales of M-rated games to children (with movie and music retailers only making modest progress).
Even in the UK, we have jumped in on video games this week, with a report by the the British Board of Film Classification. It published research on video games and the reasons that people play them, and looked at the relationship between game violence and real violence. They conclude that, despite fears, gamers consistently understand the distinction between the real-world and an onscreen fantasy, and don’t confuse the two.