ESA Files Suit Against Minnesota Law

I got this in my email box today…is Oklahoma next?

Video Game Voters Network
* *

*VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY
SUES THE STATE OF MINNESOTA*

*Industry Seeks to have Unconstitutional Video Game Law Overturned*

Washington, D.C. (June 7, 2006) — The computer and video game industry
filed suit yesterday in Minnesota Federal District Court, asking that
the State’s new video game law be overturned, the Entertainment Software
Association announced today. Similar laws have been struck down by six
courts in five years, including the Eighth Circuit which governs
Minnesota, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees.

“The bill’s tortured effort to end run the First Amendment by punishing
kids directly fails under the Constitution because children have rights
under the First Amendment, like all other citizens. The State is
attempting to impose liability on children because they know that courts
have consistently held that they cannot penalize retailers. We believe
that the courts will agree that fining children violates the First
Amendment as well,” said Doug Lowenstein, president of the ESA, the
trade group representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. “If
this law is implemented, it will not only limit First Amendment rights
for Minnesota’s residents, it will create a huge amount of confusion for
retailers, parents, and children. I’m confident the court will affirm
our position given the rulings on similar statutes in other jurisdictions.”

The bill 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 have 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 ESA argues that this bill is an unenforceable effort to substitute
the government’s judgment for parental supervision. Lowenstein said 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 comes in the home.

“Legislators in the state of Minnesota have enacted a video game
restriction law that they apparently do not want enforced and understand
cannot constitutionally be enforced,” noted Bo Andersen, President of
the Entertainment Merchants Association. “Unfortunately, as a result of
the legislature threatening to impose penalties on the children of
Minnesota, it will be the taxpayers of the state who pay the penalty
when this law is overturned, as it must be.”

“In 2005, the average game buyer was 40 and the average game player was
33,” said Lowenstein. “When you take that and the fact that this bill is
virtually unenforceable into consideration, there is no question in my
mind that this bill will be thrown out. How is it possible for retailers
to collect $25 from children? The fact is that it would be far more
productive for all parties — industry, retailers, government, parent
groups, health groups — to work together to educate parents about the
ESRB ratings and content descriptors and the parental controls available
in all next generation consoles.”

The ESA noted that both parents and retailers are already doing a good
job in monitoring what games kids purchase. According to the ESA,
parents are involved in the purchase or rental of games 89% of the time,
and 87% of the time children receive their parents’ permission before
purchasing or renting a video game. Moreover, with the strong support of
ESA, leading retailers have already implemented systems to prevent the
sale of Mature-rated games to persons under 17. In fact, the National
Institute on Media and the Family found, prior to full implementation of
these new enforcement systems, that retailers prevented the sale of
Mature-rated video games to minors 66% of the time. All games are
clearly rated with both age and content information through the
Entertainment Software Rating Board system (www.ESRB.org
).

The ESA is the U.S. association dedicated to serving the business and
public affairs needs of the companies publishing interactive games for
video game consoles, handheld devices, personal computers, and the
Internet. ESA members collectively account for more than 90 percent of
the $7 billion in entertainment software sales in the U.S. in 2005, and
billions more in export sales of entertainment software. For more
information about the ESA, please visit www.theESA.com
.