Lamar Smith, the Texas Representative behind the much-debated "Stop Online Piracy Act," has agreed to remove a controversial provision of the bill that would force internet service providers block access to foreign websites accused of hosting copyrighted materials.
This recent change eliminates one of the most contentious elements of the legislation, which could have blocked access to online game content or communities accused of violating copyright law. In its current state, the bill still allows copyright holders to seek court orders to cut off revenue sources from infringing sites.
In a statement on his website
, Smith wrote that he has chosen to remove the DNS blocking provision of the bill "so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision. We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers."
This change comes soon after companies and organizations from throughout the online community spoke out against SOPA, decrying it for unfairly restricting ordinary citizens, placing too much power in the hands of large corporations, and more.
Over the past few days, game developers including Epic Games
, Riot Games
, Mojang, Red 5
, and many more voiced their opposition to the bill, with some promising to shut down their games and websites in protest.
Detailing SOPA's implications for the games industry, Riot Games CEO Brandon Beck argued that the legislation could threaten online games by restricting user generated content, community features such as forums and in-game chat, and more.
In its own statement against the bill, PC game vendor GOG.com said the bill would hinder the game community, but have minimal effect on the pirates it targets. "Pirates who torrent via P2P methods will not be inconvenienced in the least by SOPA and PIPA [the Senate's 'Protect IP Act']; people who post 'let’s play' walkthroughs of video games on YouTube, though, may be," the site's organizers said.
Last week, the Electronic Software Association announced its support
for the bill, though some developers, such as Weapon of Choice
creator Nathan Fouts, spoke out against the organization
for its decision.
The U.S. Congress' SOPA hearings are due to take place January 18 -- and Gamasutra will continue to provide ongoing coverage of the bill and its effects on the game industry.