The video game-related trade bodies the Entertainment Software Association and the Video Software Dealers Association have officially filed a lawsuit against California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger over the recent signing of the AB1179 bill, which requires warning labels to be placed on violent video games, according to an statement from the organization.
AB1179 will go into effect on January 1, 2006, and the VSDA and ESA are seeking to have the law ruled unconstituional before it comes into effect. Other organizations such as the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA) have also protested the passage of the bill, but this is the first formal legal challenge it has faced.
The official name of the suit filed in San Jose is Video Software Dealers Association vs. Schwarzenegger. Under the terms of AB1179, which the ESA and VSDA are challenging, customers purchasing games with the label would be required to show ID; retailers who either did not check for ID or did not show the labels will be liable for a $1,000 fine per infraction.
VSDA president Bo Andersen commented of the suit: “Courts have consistently held that restrictions on videogames because of depictions of violence within the games violate the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. The California law is also unconstitutional because it is so imprecisely drafted that it is impossible to decipher which videogames are covered by its provisions. The law also ignores the existing video game rating system and retailers’ programs to enforce those ratings in their stores.”
ESA president Douglas Lowenstein added: “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.”