NEWS - Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Judge Says Nay To Violent Game Ban

Judge Halts Calif. Violent Game Ban In a pre-Christmas story which escaped our vacationing (and eggnog-ridden) eyes, on December 22 a California judge blocked that state’s controversial bill to ban sales of violent games to minors. The legislation had received approval from Gov. Schwarzenegger and was scheduled to go into effect at the start of 2006, though industry groups like the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) had moved quickly to halt it. US District Court Judge Ronald Whyte issued a preliminary injunction on Assembly Bill 1179, stating that games are protected by the First Amendment as much as books or films -- and that the legislation, which includes mandatory labeling of games, would likely have been ruled unconstitutional. "We are, of course, unsurprised by Judge Whyte’s decision to enjoin the law and pleased that his decision came before the holidays were upon us," commented IEMA president Hal Halprin in an official statement. "Our position has been, and shall remain, that Government should not be involving itself in the entertainment decisions that consumers make. Our members are already voluntarily committed to a self-regulatory process and games should be treated no differently than music or movies in how they are merchandised, sold and enjoyed. Judge Whyte’s preliminary injunction reaffirms our long-held position that these laws are unconstitutional and unnecessary." California Assemblyman Leland Yee, who authored the bill, remains confident that Judge Whyte’s injunction won’t stop AB 1179 from taking effect. "The preliminary injunction is simply a temporary pause before the lawsuit brought against the State of California by the Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is resolved," Yee said. "We are confident that common sense will prevail." Similar laws in Michigan and Illinois were also halted by judicial decision.


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