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ESA supports Maryland videogames legislation

The Entertainment Software Association has offered its approval of a videogames bill which has been signed by Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr, following a revision to the proposal which removed a government-created ratings system.

The Entertainment Software Association has offered its approval of a videogames bill which has been signed by Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr, following a revision to the proposal which removed a government-created ratings system.

The Maryland bill was initially put forward in January, sponsored by politicians Wade Kach and Justin Ross, and has since undergone considerable revision before being signed by the state governor.

Kach's section of the bill, which has not been subject to revision, calls for penalties ranging from a USD 5000 fine to a twelve month prison sentence for retailers found to be selling or renting Adult Only rated videogames to minors.

However, Justin Ross' contribution called for a government-created ratings system which would supersede the industry standard ESRB ratings and impose fines of up to USD 1000 for retailers selling inappropriate games to minors. This section of the bill has been removed completely, which is key to the ESA's approval.

ESA president Doug Lowenstein commented: "The ESA has always been supportive of the inclusion of video games to 'harmful to minor' statues that meet the Supreme Courts obscenity standards. We believe that video games should be treated in the same way that books and movies are treated under the law."

"Where we draw the line is when the law is a violation of the First Amendment, attempting to add violent video games to the 'harmful to minors' statue, a direct violation of citizens' constitutional rights," Lowenstein concluded.

The ESA has been instrumental in obtaining injunctions preventing the implementation into law of videogame legislation which infringes on First Amendment rights, securing legal victories and establishing a solid legal precedent in recent cases against various US states. Governmental intervention into the sale of videogames remains a contentious issue, and there are new legislative proposals being put forward continually but most have been successfully challenged by the ESA.

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