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Violent games law shot down in Louisiana

Louisiana could become the latest US state to stage a climb-down over video game laws. The state passed the law just last week but a court has already granted a temporary restraining order preventing its coming into force.21 Jun 2006

Several US states have had video game restriction laws quashed in the courts in recent months. Illinois, California, Michigan and Wisconsin have all signed orders into state law only to have them challenged and overturned in federal courts.

Louisiana's law banned the sale or rental of any violent video game to someone under 18 years old. Anyone selling such material would be fined up to $2,000 or sent to prison for a year or both.

The Entertainment Software Association and the Entertainment Merchants Association took a case for a preliminary injunction against the law which will by heard on 27th June at the US District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Laws such as this have been a major battleground for an industry reputed to be worth $13 billion a year in revenues. The ESA has taken a number of the cases, and is currently spearheading a similar charge in Minnesota.

There, the state passed a law that would fine children, not retailers, if unsuitably rated games were sold or rented to them. The ESA will argue that the bill violates the First Amendment constitutional rights of any children fined the $25. The ESA represents the games publishing industry.

A recent law in Maryland, however, received the backing of the ESA. It only sought the banning of the sale of sexually explicit material to minors and omitted any reference to violence outside of a sexual context.

"The ESA has always been supportive of the inclusion of video games to 'harmful to minor' statues that meet the Supreme Courts obscenity standards," said an ESA statement in April. "We believe that video games should be treated in the same way that books and movies are treated under the law."