In case you haven’t already heard, that internet-destroying Stop Online Piracy Act has been kicked in the nuts. Basically, the internet and general public caused enough of a ruckus for the US government to realise that actually, SOPA was a bad thing. As a result, the proposed legislation and its ugly step-sister PIPA (Protect IP Act), have both been shelved – the former indefinitely.
One of the early champions of SOPA was the ESA, or the Entertainment Software Association. For those who don’t know, the ESA is the trade association for the videogame industry. It is funded by many of the major publishers and is a who’s who of big names like Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Ubisoft, THQ… you get the idea. Oh, the ESA is also responsible for E3 every year, so yeah they’re a big deal.
Naturally they pissed off a lot of indie-types, gamers and industry press organisations when they professed their undying love and support for SOPA. Their thinking was that if the act lowered piracy rates then that’d be a good thing – they just kind of ignored the whole “killing the Internet” side of it. Now that SOPA has officially died, the ESA has backtracked and agreed that it was a crummy bill to begin with. Way to take a stance, ESA!
Here is the ESA’s initial response to SOPA when it was first presented:
“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.”
And now that sane people the world over have pointed out just how stupid SOPA was, here’s ESA’s new response:
“From the beginning, ESA has been committed to the passage of balanced legislation to address the illegal theft of intellectual property found on foreign rogue sites. Although the need to address this pervasive threat to our industry’s creative investment remains, concerns have been expressed about unintended consequences stemming from the current legislative proposals.
Accordingly, we call upon Congress, the Obama Administration, and stakeholders to refocus their energies on producing a solution that effectively balances both creative and technology interests. As an industry of innovators and creators, we understand the importance of both technological innovation and content protection and are committed to working with all parties to encourage a balanced solution.”
So from the outset, the ESA supported the bill even though they claimed to be “mindful” of the negative aspects. In their defence they did imply that they wanted to work with the relevant people to “find the right balance”, but whether or not they would have granted the freedom to do so is not clear. Now that SOPA is dead they’re still drawing attention to their desire to develop “balanced legislation”, even though the first legislation that they signed their name to was anything but. Oh ESA… such capriciousness.