Friday, July 22, 2005

Two organizations oppose SB-258 on constitutional grounds

The Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA) and The Media Coalition, Inc. have each issued a memorandum opposing SB-258. Both organizations state that the bill barring public libraries from lending or renting R-rated movies to minors without the consent of a parent or guardian would likely be found unconstitutional. The Media Coalition says, "Courts in nine different states have ruled it unconstitutional either to enforce the MPAA's rating system or to financially punish a movie that carries specific rating designations." MPAA elaborates that attempts to incorporate voluntary ratings into state and local law have been consistently found unconstitutional because "they unlawfully delegate legislative power to a private association."

MPAA also states that keeping the ratings voluntary is part of their usefulness and that government involvement would lead to film makers opting to leave their films unrated.

An informal survey of WLA members found that about 73 percent of respondents place some restrictions on minors relating to movie circulation. For instance, about 31 percent of all respondents allow parents to place a restriction on their child’s record, but without that request, all materials are available to any minor patron. On the other hand, nearly 21 percent bar minors from checking out R-rated movies altogether. Whichever approach the library took, most respondents felt this was an issue that did not require legislation because the library was meeting the community’s expectations.

For more information go to the Legislative & Budget Status Report, and see SB-258.

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