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U.S. Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction in Louisiana Game Law

| 25 Aug 2006 19:52

A federal judge has filed an injunction against a Louisiana law criminalizing the sale of violent video games to minors.

Yesterday U.S. District Judge James J. Brady issued a preliminary injunction against a Louisiana state law that prevents the sale of "patently offensive" violent video games to minors. The statute, signed into law in June of this year, provides penalties of up to a year in jail and a fine of between $100 and $1,000. The Entertainment Software Association and the Entertainment Merchants Association sued in federal court to overturn the statute almost immediately after it became effective.

The law, drafted with the assistance of attorney and gaming regulation activist Jack Thompson, was purportedly written to be immune from constitutional challenges. Judge Brady clearly disagreed, noting in his ruling, "The plaintiffs have a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the Statute is unconstitutional." The judge further noted that the State's argument "overlooks a line of cases holding that video games are protected free speech." In the Court's words, the ruling was further warranted because absent an injunction, the law "would have a substantial chilling effect on both video game developers and retailers."

Due to a legal issue limiting the scope of the plaintiffs' initial filings, the injunction only applies to a single Louisiana parish. Bo Andersen, President of the Entertainment Merchants Association, commented, "We are optimistic that District Attorneys throughout the state will follow the constitutional guidance in Judge Brady's decision and abstain from attempting to enforce this law pending further action in this case."

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