Video game industry wins two more court victories against violence laws

[JURIST] The Entertainment Software Association [trade website], the trade group representing video game companies, won two more legal battles this week against laws aimed at restricting the sale of violent games to minors. On Tuesday, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the 2005 ruling that the "Safe Games Illinois Act" was unconstitutional [JURIST report]. The appeals court agreed that the labeling requirements and restrictions on the sale of objectionable games to minors were overbroad and not narrowly tailored [opinion, PDF]. Under the original district court order in the case, Illinois also owes the ESA over $500,000 in legal fees - an amount which has not been paid [AP report]. A spokesman for Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said the state "will comply with any court order" but didn't provide a timetable for payment or a reason for the delay. The ESA has gone to court to request a deadline for payment and is seeking an additional $7,800 in interest; a ruling on their motion is expected next month.

The US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana has meanwhile delivered a similar victory for the ESA, ordering a permanent injunction against a Louisiana law that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors. Judge James Brady made the ruling from the bench with no written opinion; in issuing a temporary injunction in August, he wrote "the evidence that was submitted to the legislature in connection with the bill that became the statute is sparse and could hardly be called in any sense reliable" [Ars Technica report]. Assistant Attorney General Burton Guidry said "We did everything we could to defend the law, but, as the judge said, the law was practically unenforceable as written" [AP report]. Outspoken video game critic Jack Thompson had drafted the law, although he later feuded with Guidry [GamePolitics report] over the case and even accused Guidry of not adequately presenting the government's side. Thompson's conduct in a failed Florida lawsuit [JURIST report] to block release of the game Bully last month prompted the judge who presided over that case to file a complaint against Thompson with the Florida Bar [GamePolitics report].



 

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