May 31, 2007 - In yet another bid to restrict the purchase of M-rated games by minors, New York assemblyman, Joseph Lentol, has gotten a new piece of legislation past the New York Assembly, reported http://biz.gamedaily.com/industry/feature/?id=16324 today. The newly-passed bill will make it a felony to sell M-rated videogames to minors. Transgression of this law could result in 1-4 years of jail-time.
Lentol's A08696 bill would create an Advisory Council on Interactive Media and Youth Violence, which would be responsible for evaluating the ESRB's ratings policies. The bill is purposely vague, and would punish the sale of games depicting "depraved violence and indecent images" as class E felonies. The bill defines "depraved violence" as any representation of "rape, dismemberment, physical torture, mutilation, or evisceration of a human being." The bill also contains a provision which obliges new game consoles to come with built-in parental controls. Of course, this is redundant, as the Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3 all have parental controls in place already.
The Entertainment Merchants Association stood up in defiance of the legislation, and its proposed harsh penalties. "This bill is ill-conceived and unconstitutional," stated EMA President Bo Andersen. "The proposal to jail retailers and clerks for up to four years for selling certain video games to persons under age 17 is apparently based on misunderstandings about what retailers are doing currently. The requirement that video game consoles include parental controls ignores the fact that the new generation of consoles include them already. Finally, nine similar proposals that have been enacted around the nation in recent years have all been blocked by federal courts on First Amendment grounds. For such an ill-conceived and unconstitutional law, ignorance is no excuse."
"This bill is impermissibly vague," Andersen continued. "A8696 seeks to apply real-world standards of violence to the fictional and fanciful world of video games, an environment in which they have no meaning. As a result, retailers and clerks will not and cannot know with certainty which video games could send them to jail under A8696. It was depressing to hear members of the Assembly note the constitutional problems with the bill and then state that they were voting for it."
As stated by Anderson, there have been numerous similar bills passed across the U.S. in recent years, all of which have been shot down in federal appeals courts on constitutional grounds. This newest piece of legislation may find a comparable fate.
Thanks to http://psp.ign.com/articles/793/793134p1.html for sharing the news with us!