Minnesota Will Pay $65K to Game Biz Over Failed Law

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents the interests of video game publishers in the United States, has issued a press release announcing that the state of Minnesota will reimburse the industry to the tune of $65,000.

The figure represents legal fees incurred by the video game industry in its court challenge to Minnesota’s unusual 2006 "fine-the-buyer" law.

As passed by the Minnesota legislature and signed into law by Governor (and potential Republican VP candidate) Tim Pawlenty (left) in 2006, the law would have turned traditional video game legislation on its head by fining underage buyers of M-rated games $25. Virtually all other video game content bills have sought penalties against retailers.

There were some other noteworthy aspects to the Minnesota situation:

U.S. District Court Judge James Rosenbaum, who ruled the law unconstitutional, borrowed his law clerk’s Xbox to check out some violent games while considering his ruling.

Former Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch (D), who defended against the industry’s constitutional challenge in its early days, described violent video games in a court filing as "worthless, disgusting speech" and "speech of very low societal value."

Minnesota appealed Judge Rosenbaum’s decision’s to the 8th Circuit Court, but lost. A request for a review by the entire 8th Circuit was also turned down.

The state’s only remaining recourse was the U.S. Supreme Court. Judging from the settlement with the game biz, Minnesota A.G. Lori Swanson has apparently decided not to pursue a Supreme Court decision, but we’ve got a call into Swanson’s office to confirm that.

The ESA originally sought $73,332 in fees in a motion filed in August, 2006. The $65,000 figure indicates that a little bit of negotiating went on.

ESA CEO Michael Gallagher weighed in on the $65,000 payment:

Minnesota’s citizens should be outraged at paying the bill for this flawed plan. Minnesota’s public officials ignored legal precedent and instead pursued a political agenda that ultimately cost taxpayers money. Courts across the United States have ruled consistently that video games are entitled to the same First Amendment protections as other forms of art, such as music and literature…


Politicians need to realize that the key to protecting our children from inappropriate media content is not haphazard legislation, but rather parental education. Video games have a first class ratings system supported by retailers, opinion leaders and parents.  It would be a far better use of public funds to help support this system, rather than continue to pursue unconstitutional legislation that works against it.    

GP: In a way, it would have been fascinating to see the Supreme Court make a ruling on this issue.

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  1. 0
    Will says:

    As far as I know Thompson was not involved in the legislative process on this one.  The big proponent was Sen Sandy Pappas & then AG Mike Hatch as part of his lead up to running for governor, if I remember correctly. 

    It is interesting that the office of the MN AG responded to my email as a constituent stating that "Under Minnesota law, this Office is obligated to defend the constitutionality of State legislation."  In many ways it seems that the AG office under Swanson was following through on obligations created by then AG Mike Hatch. 




  2. 0
    Timmay! says:

    Two things to note here.

    1) As long as politicians can milk these "feel good" laws to make voting constituants happy, they’ll keep making and trying to pass them.  All kinds of bills like this are passed yearly, and most of them get shot down soon after.  Videogames are the big thing right now, so expect to see more of these, no matter how many have been deemed unconstitutional before them.  And it’s not just morally bankrupt politicians, it’s misguided politicians who have a very loud, crass, big mouthed someone whispering in their ear (high Jack!), it’s morally zealous politicians who think that they’re morals are "right", and everyone else is "wrong", it’s completely oblivious politicians who want in on the bandwagon, and pretty much every other politician sooner or later.


    2) To the people of Minnesota, and every other state that’s had to shell out big $$ because of some moronic dolt of a politician who couldn’t give up the ghost, write to your local newspapers, bloggers, TV news station, and pretty much every media outlet in your state, and let them know how your politicians wasted money on trivial, useless, and baseless legislation that has been deemed unconstitutional time and time and time again in other states.  Let them know how much their "moral zeal" has cost your state, when it could have put that money towards alternatives to legislation that would have helped with educate parents about violent videogames and their ratings, and how to buy the right games for the right age levels.  Let them know how the money could have been put towards doing other things for the kids of your community and state, like after school programs, parks, youth centers, and such.  I can garauntee you that more than a few people will be not be happy, and let the legislature know during the next election.

  3. 0
    Allitur says:

    GP: In a way, it would have been fascinating to see the Supreme Court make a ruling on this issue.

    Be careful what you say GP. I rather things stay the way they are with a united front by the circuit of appeals. Though it supports our chances with winning in the SC, I’ve read plenty of cases where the SC went the otherway regardless of a united front. I say lets keep things the way we are with us on the winning side and not take unnecessary chances.

  4. 0

    Yeah, the risk of them deciding against us is frightening indeed. But if they decide for our side, we are done with all the legislation, the tax burns, etc. Forever. But yes, if we were to lose, it would SUCK! You know Jack would be claiming victory all over the site.



    -If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we’d all be livin’ large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

  5. 0

    -And as always, the taxpayers are the ones who suffer.


    If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we’d all be livin’ large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

  6. 0

    Meh, too bad it wasn’t a lot more just to make those idiots who can’t be bothered to worry about the constitutionality of what they’re trying to enact and leave it to lawyers look even worse. Politicians who try to pass “feel good” laws deserve to lose their position.

  7. 0
    CyberSkull says:

     The politicians who pass unconstitutional laws need to have their pay docked or some other public humiliation inflicted on them.

  8. 0
    Jim Strathmeyer ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yeah, and then we’d never have to hear about it again, just like creationism.

    As long as the public keeps voting for morally bankrupt politicans, we will never see the end of it.

  9. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    GP: In a way, it would have been fascinating to see the Supreme Court make a ruling on this issue.

    You may get that chance with California.

    Glad to see another unconstitutional bill bite the dust and the politicians who signed and voted for it getting what they deserve.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  10. 0
    Jack Thompson, Attorney ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This just in:  Prosecutor considers bringing criminal charges against Take-Two for copycat criminal acts.

  11. 0
    Jack Wessels says:

    This just in:  Take-Two will never be charged for the actions of individuals dumb enough to copycat their game. Not now, not ever.

    Also, please try to keep your posts relevant to the topic of the article.

  12. 0
    F**ked up says:

    This just in…. A Class action lawsuit it being created against Jack Thompson for slander, libel, harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation of character, vilification, Abuse of the process, Malicious prosecution, tortious interference, public nuisance, malpractice, and terroristic threatening.

    I hope you have a good lawyer.

  13. 0
    Shoehorn O'Plenty ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This just in: Said prosecutor is under a court order preventing him from interfering with Take-Two.

    Breaking news: Said prosecutor will have to do this through another attorney as his own career is practically over.

    From our Florida correspondent: Said prosecutor has tried the same thing many times in the past.

    Update: Said prosecutor has failed each and every time.

    Here’s Tom with the weather, Tom?

    Tom: Well, it’s looking like someone’s career is in the middle of a storm at the moment, with gale force disciplinary action coming in from the south, and severe failstone showers every time he tries anything. Conversely, everything looks pretty sunny for the video games industry!

  14. 0
    gs2005 ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This just in: loudmouth, rabble rousing, massacre chaser, attention whore lawyer Johnny Bruce Thompson faces disbarrment of 10 years after launching numerous fraudlent lawsuits with a 100% failure rate.

  15. 0
    Kincyr says:

    This just in: Prosecutor considers bringing criminal charges against PBS for two kids getting injured copycatting Benjamin Franklin. (no, this isn’t real. A cookie goes to whomever knows what I’m referring to)

    岩「…Ace beats Jack」

  16. 0

    Don’t you have a sickly wife who needs your care?

     -If shit and bricks were candy and tits, we’d all be livin’ large. For information on games and psychology, look up: Jonathan Freedman(2002)Block & Crain(2007)Grand Theft Childhood, by Harvard Medical School researchers Larry Kutner and Cheryl Olson

  17. 0
    squigs says:

    That’s not really news though is it.

    Now, if the prosecutor did bring criminal charges, it might be worth a mention. Still a little dog bites man though.

  18. 0
    DavCube ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    This just in: Never-has-been attorney tries to derail a topic AGAIN, with crap that probably isn’t even true. AGAIN.

  19. 0
    Deadman Reaper says:

    This Just in: There is NO law that can stick that can cause Censorship in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA you can’t tell people they can’t make art/media/video games….That being said RETAILERS have every right not to carry said art/media/Video Games if they choose too….SO JACK PLEASE DO ALL THE WORLD A FAVOR GAG YOURSELF!!!!!!!

  20. 0
    VegasSpartan ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    "GP: In a way, it would have been fascinating to see the Supreme Court make a ruling on this issue"

    Seeing as how they’ve been ruling against our other rights (Habeus Corpus, etc.) I really don’t want to see video games go all the way to the Supreme Court, not with these justices at least.

  21. 0
    F**ked up says:

    So is New York next?

    I wish there a law that the law makers who created this bill would pay 20% out of their own pockets while those who voted on it pay 10%. M]be that might keep them from making unconstutional laws.

    but then again they would just give themselves a pay raise.

  22. 0
    Jack Wessels says:

    Charging gamers? I think that’s actually better than the retailers or the industry itself for being charged. Maybe not as good as the employee, not the company, being fined, but at least this bill attempted to put the blame in the person who was knowingly buying a game to mature for themselves.

    Still, it’s a good thing that they shot it down. These video game bills are simply getting annoying at this point.

  23. 0
    HL_1942 says:

    This is how my state spends my tax dollars? At least we didn’t lose too much money.


  24. 0
    Deadman Reaper says:

    "Uh…what? They just reenforced habeus corpus to the Bush regime for the third time. They also protected the second amendment."


    The "Bush Regime" you are talking about put some of those judges in play that protected the second amendment. The Job of the Judicary branch (aka supreme court) is to decide if the rule of law is constitinal it is called checks and balances.  

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