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Federal judge backs limits on kids' access to violent video games

By The Associated Press
04.25.02

ST. LOUIS — A federal judge has ruled that local governments should be able to limit children's access to violent or sexually explicit video games, saying the games are not constitutionally protected forms of speech.

Senior U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh, in a ruling issued April 19, rejected a request by a video game industry group to throw out a St. Louis County ordinance regulating access to arcade and home video games.

County Counselor Patricia Redington said April 22 that the county must now decide whether to ask Limbaugh to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Interactive Digital Software Association.

The ordinance, passed in 2000, would require children under 17 to have parental consent before they can buy violent or sexually explicit video games or play similar arcade games. The council has suspended implementation of the ordinance until July 1.

The video game group called the ruling wrong on the facts and the law.

"The decision is clearly in conflict with virtually every other federal court decision on this and related issues," group President Doug Lowenstein said in a statement. "We're confident that our position will be sustained on appeal."

Limbaugh said he reviewed four different video games and found "no conveyance of ideas, expression, or anything else that could possibly amount to speech. The court finds that video games have more in common with board games and sports than they do with motion pictures."

Limbaugh said the county has a compelling interest in protecting the physical and emotional health of its children and assisting parents as guardians of their children's well-being.

St. Louis County modeled its ordinance after one in Indianapolis. That ordinance has been invalidated by a federal appeals court in Chicago.


Update
8th Circuit strikes down limits on kids' access to violent video games
St. Louis County ordinance required children under 17 to have parental consent before they could buy violent or sexually explicit video games or play similar arcade games. 06.04.03

Related

Federal appeals panel: Indianapolis video-game law can't be enforced

Judges overturn lower court ruling, grant arcade industry’s request for preliminary injunction. 03.26.01

Columbine lawsuit against makers of video games, movies thrown out
Federal judge finds 'it is manifest that there is social utility in expressive and imaginative forms of entertainment, even if they contain violence.' 03.05.02

Minnesota lawmakers say 'game over' to kids' violent games
Senate passes measure that would make it illegal for children under 17 to rent or buy adult-rated video games. 05.10.03

Washington state bars sale of cop-killer video games to kids
State becomes first to enact such legislation; industry officials promise to challenge measure, calling it 'unnecessary and unconstitutional.' 05.21.03

Pong revisited: Free speech and video games
By Ken Paulson Hitting a ball with a paddle didn’t involve plot, character, ideas — as today's games do. 10.21.01

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