November 10, 2005

In a victory for Jenner & Block’s video game industry clients, a federal court on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of a Michigan law designed to prohibit the sale or distribution of video games deemed too violent for minors.  The law was to go into effect on December 1.

The court found that the state was unlikely to succeed in the merits phase of the case with its argument that there is a “compelling state interest” for the law to override the First Amendment protections guaranteed the video game manufacturers.

“…the State has been unable to demonstrate the perceived harm it seeks to protect against…there is an obvious risk of harm with enforcement of the Act, including the prosecution of individuals for selling offending video games.  In addition, there is the obvious harm that results from stifling free speech,” the court ruled in issuing the injunction.

Jenner & Block had filed for the preliminary injunction on behalf of the Entertainment Software Association, Video Software Dealers Association and Michigan Retailers Association soon after the provisions were signed into law.

The Firm’s legal team on this matter includes Partners Paul M. Smith and Katherine A. Fallow and Associates Amy L. Tenney, Kathleen R. Hartnett and Duane Pozza.

Jenner & Block is representing the video game industry in challenges to similar state laws in California and Illinois.  The Firm has successfully represented the video game industry to defeat similar legislative attempts to censor video games in Washington and Missouri.

Please click here to view the preliminary injunction order.