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Maryland Enacts Video Game Law, Industry Won't Fight It

After waging a string of successful First Amendment battles against video game legislation in St. Louis, Indianapolis, Washington state, Illinois and Michigan did you ever expect to see the video game industry decide to not fight a piece of game legislation?

Well, it just happened in Maryland, where HB707 was signed into law by Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich (seen at left) on May 2nd. The bill, co-sponsored by Delegates Wade Kach (R) and Justin Ross (D), had previously passed both the Maryland House and Senate by unanimous votes.

So why isn't the video game industry dragging Maryland into court?

As passed, the bill prohibits the display or exhibition of an obscene video game to a minor. Its definition of obscenity deals with depictions related to sexual activity. It's much the same as blocking a minor from buying a DVD containing an X-rated movie. There is no mention of violent game content in the bill, and no attempt to define violence as obscenity in the manner that pending legislation in Louisiana and Delaware seeks to do.

Since the video game industry - aside from the rogue Hot Coffee incident - does not market obscene material, nor is such material extended the same First Amendment protections as violent games, it opted not to oppose the Maryland law.

Nor is this the first time the industry has decided not to fight. In 2005, for example, Georgia enacted a law requiring retailers to display signs explaining video game ratings. Similar laws are in effect in California and Washington state.

Maryland's new law takes effect on October 1st. Its full text may be seen here.

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Tags: democrats, first amendment, justin ross, legislation, maryland, obscenity, republicans, robert erlich, wade kach
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