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ESA Suing Michigan Law

The Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry trade body, has filed suit against the new Michigan law that makes it illegal to sell or rent violent games to those under 17.

The action is meant to overturn the bill, slated to go into effect December 1st, and it's believed that at least one of the names cited on the law suit will be Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. Granholm is one of the chief instigators of what she calls a "new common-sense law", and which will provide fines and even, under special circumstances, jail time for those breaking it.

"If this law is implemented, it will not only limit First Amendment rights for Michigan's residents, but, by virtue of its vagueness, it will also create a huge amount of confusion for Michigan's retailers, parents, and video game developers," said ESA president Doug Lowenstein. "I'm confident the court will affirm our position given the rulings on similar statutes in other jurisdictions; indeed, the facts, the science, the law, and the U.S. Constitution have not changed since those decisions were handed down."

The fine for anyone caught selling a "violent title" (defined by the bill as "real or simulated graphic depictions of physical injuries or physical violence against parties who realistically appear to be human beings") to minors will initially be $5,000, and can go as high as $40,000, and jail time of up to 93 days and hefty fines can be given to those allowing minors to play the game in a business or pretending to be the minor's legal guardian.

Lowenstein also objected to the bill on the basis of unfairly singling out the games industry. "It's illogical that video games would be treated more harshly than R-rated movies or music CDs with parental warning labels, both of which can be legally viewed and sold to minors. How can you treat a video game based on James Bond any different than a book or movie based on the same subject matter?"

Posted by Directory of Games on September 15.

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