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Bill Would Let Parents Sue Retailers

3 Jun, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner

California Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) has introduced a bill that, if passed, would allow parents to sue media providers, including retailers, in federal court if they provide minors with material that parents or guardians consider obscene.

The Parent's Empowerment Act of 2004, introduced as H.R. 4239 in the House of Representatives, would apply to “any person who knowingly sells or distributes a product that contains material deemed harmful to minors.”

The bill would set a new test for what is obscene for a minor and outlines punitive damages. Under the bill, a district court that rules in favor of the parents could award a minimum of $10,000 for each instance of damaging material. It has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary for consideration.

“The Video Software Dealers Association is opposed to this bill. It is a poorly crafted and unconstitutional measure, and it does not really address the problem that the sponsor says he is attacking,” said Sean Bersell, VP of public affairs. “There is a whole host of materials available on P2P networks and spam that this bill will do nothing to stop.”

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