ESA sues Minnesota

Industry trade group wants recently adopted fine for minors caught buying adult games declared unconstitutional, EMA in agreement.

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Last week, Republican Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty signed into law a measure that will impose a $25 fine on minors who purchase games rated M for Mature or AO for Adults Only and require retailers to post signs notifying customers of the fine. The Entertainment Software Association promptly announced its intent to sue the state, and the trade group said it filed the suit this afternoon.

"The bill's tortured effort to end run the First Amendment by punishing kids directly fails under the Constitution because children have rights under the First Amendment, like all other citizens," ESA president Doug Lowenstein said in a statement. "The State is attempting to impose liability on children because they know that courts have consistently held that they cannot penalize retailers. We believe that the courts will agree that fining children violates the First Amendment as well."

Lowenstein questions how the state expects to enforce the law and collect the $25 fine from minors. In a recent interview with GameSpot, the bill's author, Minnesota State Senator Sandra Pappas of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, said the state didn't actually plan on prosecuting children under this law, that the retailers' warning signs could be enough of a deterrent for minors, and that "the whole goal is just to educate parents."

The ESA isn't the only trade organization speaking out against the law. Bo Andersen, president of the newly formed Entertainment Merchants Association, is siding with the ESA.

"Legislators in the state of Minnesota have enacted a video game restriction law that they apparently do not want enforced and understand cannot constitutionally be enforced," Andersen said in a statement. "Unfortunately, as a result of the legislature threatening to impose penalties on the children of Minnesota, it will be the taxpayers of the state who pay the penalty when this law is overturned, as it must be."

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