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Software Groups Vow to Oppose Washington Law

21 May, 2003 By: Kurt Indvik

Legislation in Washington State making it illegal to sell or rent video games that depict violence against law enforcement officials to children under age 17 has been signed into law.

Almost immediately after Gov. Gary Locke signed the HB 1009, the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA) announced plans to seek an injunction to prevent its implementation.

The Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) also announced its continued opposition to the new law and its support of, and participation in, the IDSA's efforts.

“ It is unfortunate that the Legislature and the governor of Washington have chosen to ignore the glaring constitutional defects of this bill,” said Sean Bersell, VP of public affairs for the VSDA. “HB 1009 is a textbook example of a violation of the First Amendment, and the VSDA and our industry partners are preparing a lawsuit to protect retailers in Washington state from this ill-disguised form of censorship.”

According to the IDSA, its complaint will allege that depictions of violent expression are protected under the First Amendment and, among other weaknesses, the law is “unconstitutionally vague because it is not clear which games are covered, meaning that stores and clerks would be subjected to liability if they ‘guess wrong.’

The VSDA has long held that the Washington bill and other such legislation that has been springing up around the country, takes away parental rights to oversee what their children may or may not consume in the way of entertainment, and places an undue burden on retailers.

“We continue to believe that parents, with the assistance of the voluntary ratings education and enforcement programs of video retailers, are the best judges of what is appropriate for their children,” Bersell said.

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