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ESA collects $65,000 in legal fees from Minnesota

Gallagher notes a better use of public funds would be to support ratings system, not pursue unconstitutional legislation

The Entertainment Software Association has announced that the state of Minnesota paid USD 65,000 in attorney fees and expenses incurred as a result of the association's successful challenge to Minnesota's unconstitutional videogame law.

The ESA, which prevailed over similar unconstitutional laws in nine other jurisdictions, now has been awarded close to USD 2 million in fees and expenses spent in defending gamers, developers and publishers' First Amendment rights.

"Minnesota's citizens should be outraged at paying the bill for this flawed plan," said ESA CEO Michael Gallagher.

"Minnesota's public officials ignored legal precedent and instead pursued a political agenda that ultimately cost taxpayers money. Courts across the United States have ruled consistently that videogames are entitled to the same First Amendment protections as other forms of art, such as music and literature."

On July 31, 2006, Judge James M. Rosenbaum of the US District Court, Minnesota, issued a permanent injunction to halt implementation of a Minnesota law which sought to penalize minors for the purchase or rental of M- or AO-rated games.

In his decision, Judge Rosenbaum stated that "…there is no showing whatsoever that videogames, in the absence of other violent media, cause even the slightest injury to children."

The Court also raised questions about the Minnesota Legislature's motives in passing such an obviously unconstitutional law, noting that several other states have tried to regulate minors' access to videogames but every effort has been stricken for violating the First Amendment.

"The Court will not speculate as the motives of those who launched Minnesota's nearly doomed effort to 'protect' our children. Who, after all, opposes protecting children? But, the legislators drafting this law cannot have been blind to its constitutional flaws," the decision read.

Gallagher said that the key to protecting our children from inappropriate media content is not haphazard legislation, but rather parental education.

"Videogames have a first class ratings system supported by retailers, opinion leaders and parents. It would be a far better use of public funds to help support this system, rather than continue to pursue unconstitutional legislation that works against it."

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