Louisiana Video-Game Ban Draws Legal Flak From Industry

Louisiana is the newest front in the ongoing political and legal battle over violent content in video games, which in the United States drive a $13 billion industry that rivals Hollywood box office sales.

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco on Thursday signed legislation that bans the sale or rental of violent video games to children under the age of 18. Under the law, violators would face fines of up to $2,000, one year in prison, or both.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) and the Entertainment Merchants Association on Friday filed suit in the Federal District Court of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to overturn the new law, saying similar laws have been struck down by six courts in five years.

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"We are confident this bill will be found unconstitutional, as have similar statutes in other states," ESA President Doug Lowenstein said.

A representative for Blanco sent calls to the Louisiana attorney general's office, where a spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Similar laws passed in California, Illinois and Michigan were found by federal judges to have violated free speech guarantees.

Stephen Smith, an attorney who represents a variety of video game companies, predicted that the industry would eventually prevail in the Louisiana case.

"Violent content is not a basis under the First Amendment to ban something," said Smith, a partner at Greenberg Glusker in Los Angeles.