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IEMA Steps Up California Game Bill Response, Urges Veto

Following the recent comments from the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA), a ...
Following the recent comments from the Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association (IEMA), a body representing video game retailers, regarding California legislature approval for Leland Yee's AB1179 measure, aimed at preventing the sale of violent video games to children, the IEMA has released the text of a letter it has sent to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urging him to veto the bill. The bill requires warning labels to be placed on violent games. Customers purchasing games with the label would be required to show ID; retailers who either did not check for ID or did not show the labels will be liable for a $1,000 fine per infraction. In response to this, particularly salient part of the IEMA's letter talks about "the lack of decipherable standards" for the bill, commenting: "The bill defines "violent video games" as those that meet a three-part analysis based on the legal test for obscenity... or that meet federal death penalty standards for killings that are "heinous, cruel, or depraved". The obscenity-based inquiry would force manufacturers and retailers to independently apply to each game sold a constantly changing, legally and factually complicated "community standard" that courts and juries have struggled to identify and apply for years." The letter continues: "In a similar vein, the federal death penalty standard is one decided by juries on a case-by-case basis, and is ill-suited to providing meaningful guidance on whether the sale of a game will engender liability. Further, the bill sets an impossible threshold by forcing a pre-judgment on whether a particular player will "relish" a virtual action, or whether that player will intend to commit certain actions in the game, prior to the sale." Going on to point out that "labeling requirements will create significant shipping and distribution difficulties (and liabilities) for retailers by mandating separate systems and stock for California and the other 49 states", the IEMA's missive, signed by IEMA President Hal Halpin, concludes with a simple request: "This legislation will have a serious and harmful effect on California retailers and the thousands of individuals that they employ. We respectfully request that you veto A.B. 1179." Governor Schwarzenegger has until October 9th to sign or veto the California-specific AB1179 bill, and if signed, it would go into effect on January 1st, 2006.

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