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What Can We Do About SOPA/PIPA?

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by: Stephen Crane (Photo: Las Vegas Radio 107.5)

Back in September of last year 350 companies signed an open letter(PDF) to the United States Congress urging them to enact legislation "which targets those who abuse the Internet ecosystem and reap illegal profits by stealing the intellectual property (IP) of America's innovative and creative industries." The letter mentions "rogue sites" and a study that "examined approximately 100 rogue sites and found that these sites attracted more than 53 billion visits per year, which average out to approximately nine visits for every man, woman, and child on Earth." Apparently the sale of counterfeit goods online reached $135 billion last year.

Despite the fact that the $135 billion number has been debunked, there is another concern from that list: the number of games developers and publishers who signed it. Not all games companies support SOPA and PIPA, not even those who are members of the ESA. The problem is, however, that the ESA itself still is very vocal in supporting SOPA. This is sad because the ESA used to be for us. Many in the business world unfortunately assume that the ESA speaks for the industry. The ESA stated

“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.”

What does the support of the ESA and other game companies mean if SOPA or PIPA pass? Unfortunately it means the active sharing portion of gaming culture may end up extinct. Are you looking for video walkthroughs or live streams of people playing? You won't find any of those videos without the express permission of the game creators. And why should they let players broadcast property they worked on? It doesn't earn game developers any money when players are gaining attention and fame from video reviews or live streams.

Everything we love about Justin.tv may be destroyed because of SOPA and PIPA. What about the sharing of screenshots with silly captions? SOPA pretty much destroys the idea of "fair use" by giving IP holders the rights to remove the content then ask questions later. It poses a serious threat to legitimate content creation. Even if you aren't a US citizen, this could affect you as it may set a precedent for other countries facing similar issues. DNS blocking would restrict access to the "rogue sites" even if you are trying to access from outside the US.

 

What can you do as a US citizen? Raise awareness. Tell your friends about the seriousness of this issue. Read a bit more to educate yourself about exactly what SOPA is and why it's broken. Make a call to your representatives and senators, or sign the petition against SOPA and PIPA. Outsite the US? Look up ACTA, fight that, and email the US State department about PIPA and SOPA.

What can you do as gamers? Get behind companies that have come out against SOPA and PIPA. Urge those companies and your favorite games developers, journalists, and media personalities to come out against SOPA and PIPA. Urge them to protest the ESA's support of these dangerous bills by instituting a blackout of this year's E3.

 

I would like to state right now: I will not be attending or covering E3 (even if I don't go) unless the ESA pulls its support for SOPA and PIPA. I urge every one of us gamers to do the same. This isn't just about these bills, either. It's about the ESA actively supporting policies that are bad for the community and the industry as a whole. The ESA needs to realize that their support actively hurts all of us, and thus we cannot support them.

I ask you, as readers and consumers to not read or watch E3 coverage, either unless the ESA backs down. It's their money-making event of the year and it is completely dependent on developers, journalists, and consumers being complicit in their support for E3 and SOPA. We need to not be complicit, and we need to take a stand against a company that has turned its back on its greater community.

More Reading

The SOPA/PIPA Timeline

What is in SOPA/PIPA?

What is wrong with SOPA/PIPA?

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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