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ESA voices support for SOPA legislation
ESA voices support for SOPA legislation
January 3, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

The Entertainment Software Association today announced its support for the proposed "Stop Online Piracy Act," a highly contentious bill that would allow the U.S. government and copyright holders to seek court orders against any website that hosts copyright-infringing material.

While companies like Nintendo, Sony, and EA reportedly revoked their initial support for SOPA, these companies are still part of the ESA trade association, meaning that as long as the ESA supports the legislation, its members technically support it by association.

The ESA's list of members includes many of the biggest industry players, including Nintendo, Sony, Electronic Arts, Konami, Capcom, and much more.

Outspoken indie developer Nathan Fouts, whose work includes Serious Sam Double D and Weapon of Choice, criticized the ESA, noting that "as long as the ESA is still listed [as a supporter], the game industry as a whole is supporting SOPA."

In its own statement, the ESA said, "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."

In June 2011, the ESA won a landmark case for the game industry, during which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that video games are protected by the First Amendment, and are thus not to be subjected to government sales regulation.

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Terry Matthes
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Alex Leighton
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They don't seem to be seeing the "SOPA will piss off everyone because they can't use Youtube anymore and said everyone will hold whoever supports the bill responsible and stop buying those responsible parties' products" angle.

K Gadd
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If you care you should email them:

Andrew Walker
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If anyone wants a complete analysis of why SOPA and Protect-IP acts are terrible for this country, you should read this letter from legal academics from all over the US.

Also, tell the ESA where to get off (thanks Kevin Gadd) at the email above, and call your Representative. anti-piracy legislation should not be allowed to harm the constitution or give the Government censorship powers that mimic those used by other countries.

Atilla Hulsebos
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This is terrible news (ESA support for SOPA). Also, the rumour that Sony Electronics, Nintendo, and Electronic Arts have stopped their direct support of SOPA is most likely wrong. They were never on that particular list in the first place, the "news" just traveled over tons of gaming sites without being fact-checked. See

Frank Cifaldi
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We actually did reach out to EA a couple months ago when SOPA first emerged asking for its stance, they just referred us to the ESA. They've not taken their own stance as far as we're aware. We're going to go ahead and poke them again, along with Sony and Nintendo. Maybe they'll be more willing to talk about it now.

E Zachary Knight
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Frank, you are correct on that one. EA has punted on the issue and probably won't make a public statement either way.

Lars Doucet
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Has the IGDA come out for or against SOPA?

E Zachary Knight
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I have reached out to them and have not got a response. I sent an email the same day as I did the ESA and the EMA and the IGDA is the only group not to respond.

Lars Doucet
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Good job. Let's get on the IGDA's butts and make them say something!

Maurício Gomes
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Probably IGDA will say something like:

"We cannot comment on that because our direction X supports SOPA"

or something like:

"Sorry but we are infighting, we will reply later."

Nathaniel Marlow
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Maybe they'll end up like GoDaddy, with their figurative kneecaps busted in the internet's figurative basement.

Bart Stewart
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I'm a little troubled by the one-sidedness of this news story. If this is a "highly contentious" bill, where are the comments supportive of the ESA's stance that balance the cited negative comments? (The ESA's own comments about its position don't qualify since that's what the story is about.) The critical tone of this piece makes me wonder if I'm getting the whole story and being trusted to make up my own mind on the subject.

I've read the relevant parts of the proposed legislation. As a (very minor) creator of digital property I agree with the idea that it is important to strongly protect property rights. And I understand the proposed law's approach to enforcing that protection by cutting off payment to and advertising for sites that torrent movies and music and games. (This understanding that protecting property rights is the fundamental requirement for a productive society is what is conspicuously missing from this news story.)

But even I am concerned by the practical consequences were this particular bill to become law. Beyond being skeptical on general principles about piling on yet more federal law, there are specific likely impacts that deserve close scrutiny. Forcing the likes of PayPal and Google's AdSense to set up people and processes for accepting and acting on federal notifications that some site is distributing lots of copyrighted property imposes additional federal regulatory costs on them and smaller businesses like them -- not a desirable thing at the best of economic times, which these aren't. This isn't trivial; imposing costs on businesses means there's less money available for putting people to work.

Maybe even more problematic is the creation of still more federal bureaucracy: people to monitor web sites for copyright violations, more people to assess value claims to determine if a site is in violation, even more people at State and Commerce to try to manage non-U.S. torrent sites. Is the cost of these further additions to an already bloated federal leviathan really outweighed by the the potential benefits of reducing property theft?

I think a reasonable case could be made either way. I hope future stories on this subject will offer that balanced presentation of the facts and positions, at least to the extent possible given reasonable efforts to "reach out" to knowledgeable people on both sides of the question.

Iain Howe
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Balanced is where the news is reported objectively, not where equal time is given to both sides.

Most of the Senators 'debating' the SOPA bill just want to get the tubes of the Intarwebs back under the control of the lobbyists that paid them a huge amount of money. Watching the C-SPAN coverage of the debate was like watching an old folks home caucus debating legislation to reduce the number of buttons on TV remotes.

Bart Stewart
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Something like "mass murder is bad" probably doesn't need a position quote from Messrs. Hitler or Stalin, but many -- possibly most -- stories on proposed legislation in a democratic republic aren't so ethically clear.

In the case of SOPA, there are obviously some people who think the pros outweigh the cons, or politicians wouldn't be pushing it. So where are the links to their perspectives so that reasonable people can decide for themselves whose points make the most sense in this case? We weren't given that opportunity here.

Objectivity in journalism does not only mean that what you state should be verifiable fact -- it also means not excluding relevant information. News is far more often slanted by choosing not to report certain facts than by distorting reality or outright fabrication. Balanced journalism trusts news consumers enough to provide them with all the facts that matter regardless of personal beliefs, which are properly presented in opinion pieces (as Gamasutra has also done on this subject).

I'm not banging on about this because I like to argue or need to "win." I'm making one clarification of my comments because I generally trust Gamasutra to be straight with me in their straight news stories and not choose sides, and because I think that didn't happen here and that erodes my trust slightly. You're free to disagree, of course.

Jonathan Murphy
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We have a President who says things like, "I'm closing Guantanamo, no more wire taps, vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act." Then does the total opposite. A lot of people are aware that if President Obama has the choice to veto SOPA; he will instead sign it in.

Unfortunately a typical business response isn't to fight, it's to side with whomever they think will win. I don't know the outcome, but I do know how big business acts.