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ESA instigates legal action against California violent games bill

The Entertainment Software Association and retail body the Video Software Dealers Association have officially filed a lawsuit against the California state governor, opposing the recently signed bill, AB1179.

The ESA has joined forces with the Video Software Dealers Association to file a lawsuit protesting against California's AB1179 bill, designed to restrict the sale of games with violent content to minors.

State governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed the bill despite serious opposition from the games and retail industries. It is due to take effect from January 1, 2006.

The ESA/VSDA lawsuit claims that the bill violates First Amendment rights by restricting access to games "Based solely on their expressive content." Furthermore, the ESA argues, it unconstitutionally compels speech by manufacturers, distributors, importers, and retailers by requiring them to label games deemed as 'violent' with a new "18" sticker.

The prosecution will argue that there have been numerous precedents set where the laws of free speech apply to videogames, stating that "Plaintiffs and their members, as well as many citizens of California, will suffer immediate, serious, and irreparable injury if the Act takes effect."

The ESA and VSDA have worked together to overturn a number of similar bills in various states across the US, and have successfully done so on several occasions. ESA president Doug Lowenstein stated: "We believe this bill will meet the same fate as virtually identical statutes that federal courts have routinely struck down in recent years."

"It is not up to any industry or the government to set standards for what kids can see or do; that is the role of parents," he concluded.

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