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Breaking: Louisiana Violent Game Bill Signed Into Law

Breaking: Louisiana Violent Game Bill Signed Into Law

June 16, 2006 | By Simon Carless

June 16, 2006 | By Simon Carless
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According to a new report from website, Democratic Representative Roy Burrell's HB1381 bill, covering violent video games, has been signed in law by Governor Kathleen Blanco, and takes effect immediately.

The measure proposed by HB 1381, which was drafted with the help of controversial Florida attorney and anti-game activist Jack Thompson, allows a judge to rule on whether or not a video game meets established criteria for being inappropriate for minors and be subsequently pulled from store shelves. A person found guilty of selling such a game to a minor would face fines ranging from $100 to $2,000, plus a prison term of up to one year.

In a statement released by Jack Thompson when the Louisiana Senate passed the bill, the lawyer commented: "The corrupted and corrupting video game industry will, of course, challenge this law once it is signed by Governor Blanco. The reason is that this industry, through the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board), its developers' lobbyist, the ESA (Entertainment Software Association), and the retailers' lobbyist, IEMA (Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association) are involved in ongoing fraudulent conduct in marketing video games that contain adult material to children."

[UPDATE - 06/16/06, 2.54pm PST - the Entertainment Software Association and Entertainment Merchants Association have announced that they are filing suit against the bill, as expected. "We are confident this bill will be found unconstitutional, as have similar statutes in other states," said Doug Lowenstein, president of the ESA, the trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. "As recently as March 31 of this year, The Honorable George Caram Steeh, US District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, stated that video games were 'expressive free speech, inseparable from their interactive functional elements, and are therefore protected by the First Amendment."

Lowenstein continued: "This bill is an unnecessary effort... Both parents and industry are working together to ensure that video games are purchased responsibly. The Federal Government has found that parents are involved in game purchases more than eight out of ten times. Retailers already have increasingly effective carding programs in place to prevent the sale of Mature or Adult Only games to minors. Legislators know full well that this bill is destined to meet the same fate as other failed efforts to ban video game sales."

"HB 1381 also directly undermines efforts legislators started after enactment of tax credit legislation less than a year ago designed to lure video game development and production to Louisiana to generate needed high-paying technology jobs," noted Lowenstein. "Signing this bill into law would no doubt hurt the state's economy, essentially hanging up a 'Stay Out of Louisiana' sign on the state's borders for video game companies."

"Louisiana legislators have decided to squander taxpayers' money on a bet they can't win," noted Bo Andersen, president of Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), the not-for-profit international trade association for the retailers and distributors of console and computer video games and DVDs. "Despite what the legislature has been told, the Louisiana video game restriction law is not unique -- a very similar measure was passed in Michigan and promptly overturned in federal court. The Louisiana law suffers from the same constitutional defects as the Michigan law and the five other video game laws that have been enjoined on constitutional grounds. It will meet the same fate, and the taxpayers of Louisiana will end up having to pay for the legislature's reckless gamble."]

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