The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has issued a statement backing the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is currently meandering its way through the US Congress and awaiting a vote later this year. SOPA is (like all these things) a complex bill, but would essentially place substantial power to shut down internet sites in the hands of major copyright holders such as Universal, Fox, Disney and Paramount.
Both the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America support the bill, while tech companies like Google, Yahoo and Twitter oppose it; as do various civil liberties groups. For a more detailed run-down of the bill, have a read of this. For a more succinct (and funnier) summary, see what Stephen Colbert had to say about it.
Over the last few weeks companies including Microsoft, Nintendo, EA and Sony Electronics have come out against SOPA, but the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the US trade association for the videogames industry, had remained silent.
Today, the organisation has issued a statement backing the bill:
“As an industry of innovators and creators, we understand the importance of both technological innovation and content protection, and do not believe the two are mutually exclusive. Rogue websites – those singularly devoted to profiting from their blatant illegal piracy – restrict demand for legitimate video game products and services, thereby costing jobs. Our industry needs effective remedies to address this specific problem, and we support the House and Senate proposals to achieve this objective. We are mindful of concerns raised about a negative impact on innovation. We look forward to working with the House and Senate, and all interested parties, to find the right balance and define useful remedies to combat willful wrongdoers that do not impede lawful product and business model innovation.”
Critics of the bill claim that it will do little or nothing to solve piracy, while concentrating alarming power in the hands of copyright enforcers. It may also (or may not, depending which legal professional you ask) violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Nathan Fouts, of indie developer Mommy’s Best Games, has urged fellow game developers (and players) to contact the ESA and encourage them to withdraw support for SOPA. You can read his argument for doing so, here.