A piece of legislation under consideration today by the Arizona State Senate has video game industry representatives concerned.
HB 2660, which was passed by a 36-23 vote in the Arizona House of Representatives last month, would make content producers, publishers and distributors liable for monetary damages if any written, audio, visual or digital material from which they profited was judged to have been “dangerous” or obscene and motivated someone to commit a felony or an act of terrorism.
The Arizona Daily Star reports that Keith Perkins, an attorney who runs the victims advocacy group Never Again Foundation, said that those who profit from such material should be held responsible. Perkins wrote the measure, which is sponsored by Republican Warde Nichols (left).
Representatives for content creators, however, say the measure goes too far:
A representative for the Motion Picture Association of America, Wendy Briggs, said House Bill 2660 is overly broad. She said the legislation… could result in lawsuits against people involved in mainstream movies. Briggs, who also represents video game producers, said they, too, could be liable for items she would consider harmless.
Briggs used a flight simulator game as an example:
Should I now be reasonably sure that that’s going to incite somebody to commit an act of terror? What about a movie, or a book, that teaches you how to shoot a gun straight?
The Video Game Voters Network, operated by the Entertainment Software Association, which represents U.S. video game publishers, has issued an alert to members, urging them to contact their elected officials about the bill.
GP: The industry is legitimately concerned about this bill, which would have a chilling effect, certainly on game developers. Who gets to decide, for example, whether content is “dangerous”? What does that mean, exactly? Does violent content make media dangerous? Is Manhunt 2 dangerous? Call of Duty 4? Saving Private Ryan? Beowulf? The Bible?