A federal judge has granted a request by video-game industry groups for a temporary restraining order preventing the state of Louisiana from enforcing a new law that would ban sales of violent games to minors, according to court records obtained Tuesday.
The ruling, issued by U.S District Court Judge James Brady Friday, is the latest salvo in a heated battle over content turned out by the $13 billion U.S. video-game industry.
Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco last week signed legislation banning the sale or rental of violent video games to children under the age of 18. Under the law, which was to take effect immediately, violators would face fines of up to $2,000, or one year in prison, or both.
A hearing of the request by the Entertainment Software Association and the Entertainment Merchants Association for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for June 27 before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana in Baton Rouge.
The industry groups sued to overturn Louisiana's new law, saying similar laws have been struck down by six courts in five years.
"We are confident this bill will be found unconstitutional, as have similar statutes in other states," ESA President Doug Lowenstein said.
Federal judges in California, Illinois and Michigan have found that laws passed by those states violated free-speech guarantees.
Stephen Smith, an attorney who represents a variety of video game companies, predicted that the industry would eventually prevail in the Louisiana case.
"Violent content is not a basis under the First Amendment to ban something," said Smith, a partner at Greenberg Glusker in Los Angeles.