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Utah passes amended obscenity bill

Utah republican representative David Hogue's controversial amendment to the state obscenity law, which now includes videogames in the same felony category as pornography, has been passed by a vote of 7-2.

A controversial amendment to Utah's obscenity law has been passed by a vote of 7-2, meaning that videogames are now included in the same felony category as pornography in the state.

The proposed amendment, which was put forward by Republican representative David Hogue, effectively tags videogames onto the back of an existing law relating to the sale or exhibition of pornography. The bill failed its initial vote in January, but Hogue vowed to continue his efforts.

The legislation, which would make it illegal for retailers to knowingly sell or exhibit games with violent content to minors, offers another vague definition of what constitutes a violent videogame - much like bills in other US States which have largely been discounted on grounds of constitutionality.

Hogue's bill defines violent games as those which contain "inappropriate violence", or lack "serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors." Games based on or featuring historic wars will be exempt from the definitions of inappropriate violence.

Speaking to Utah newspaper The Daily Herald, Hogue stated: "This is more than a message bill. This is a bill that identifies the effects that different media has on our children."

Industry trade organisation the Entertainment Software Association and is likely to instigate legal proceedings to halt the bill's implementation, as it has successfully managed in other states.

"This bill is not needed. More importantly, the bill will be challenged as unconstitutional. To plug violence into an obscenity statute won't work," said the ESA's Scott Sabey.

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