Trade Groups To Challenge Constitutionality Of New Louisiana Video Game Law

Video Game Law Blog

June 19, 2006

On June 16, 2006, HB1381 was signed into law in Louisiana. The law, which carries a penalty of up to $2,000 as well as imprisonment for up to a year, provides that an interactive video or computer game shall not be sold, leased or rented to a minor if a trier of fact determines that

(a)the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the video or computer game, taken as a whole, appeals to the minor's morbid interest in violence;(b) the game depicts violence in a manner patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community with respect to what is suitable for minors; and(c) the game, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

Soon after the announcement that HB1381 had gone into affect, the Entertainment Software Association and the Entertainment Merchants Association announced that they were filing suit against the bill. Doug Lowenstein, president of the ESA, proclaimed his confidence that the bill would be found unconstitutional, citing a March, 2006 decision of the US District Court in Michigan which found that video games were 'expressive free speech, inseparable from their interactive functional elements, and are therefore protected by the First Amendment."