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Federal Judge Throws Out Minnesota Video Game Law

Federal Judge Throws Out Minnesota Video Game Law

July 31, 2006 | By Jason Dobson

July 31, 2006 | By Jason Dobson
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A new report by the Associated Press reveals that U.S. District Judge James Rosenbaum has thrown out Minnesota's new state-specific video game law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

Similar laws have been struck down by six courts in five years, including the Eighth Circuit which governs Minnesota, costing taxpayers tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. However, unlike other video game-related bills that target retailers, Minnesota's new legislation, which would have taken effect on August 1, instead would fine children under age seventeen $25 for buying or renting video games rated M for mature or AO for adults only.

Stores would also had been required to post signs in large font drawing attention to the restrictions. Attempts were made, but ultimately not included in the bill, to penalize retailers who sell or rent such video games to young people.

The news follows action by the major game trade associations which formally asked for implementation of the law to be stopped, as well as an earlier report in June that indicated first intentions that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) would file suit in Minnesota Federal District Court asking that the law be overturned.

The federal judge commented that the state failed to show evidence that the graphic nature of video games caused harm to children, and wrote that "there is a paucity of evidence linking the availability of video games with any harm to Minnesota's children at all."

He added: “It is impossible to determine from the data presented whether violent video games cause violence, or whether violent individuals are attracted to violent video games.” The AP report noted that Attorney General Mike Hatch was “disappointed” by Rosenbaum's ruling, and that the decision will probably be appealed.

Hatch responded: “There's been some pretty good evidence that children who use these excessively violent video games really learn inappropriate behavior and they're rewarded for inappropriate behavior - how many people do you kill and things like that.”

The ESA has argued that this bill was an unenforceable effort to substitute the government's judgment for parental supervision. ESA president Doug Lowenstein commented in June that the industry’s products were being unreasonably and unfairly singled out, saying that parents, not government or industry, must be the gatekeepers on what content enters the home.

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