I’d abandon ship too if I had my name on something that could start a riot in the streets. The Entertainment Software Association, who represent the games industry and are the ones behind the E3 expo, has dropped their support of the controversial SOPA bill.
In case you’ve not been reading the news the past few weeks, SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act which allows for sites outside the US to be firewalled to prevent access to the site. Of course, the abuse potential of it sent the internet into an uproar, and a blackout of Reddit and Wikipedia caused people who weren’t in on it to show huge amounts of (ignorantly-fueled) anger towards Congress. (contains strong language)
The ESA released a statement that said they are committed to addressing the issue of piracy, and it has been that way since its inception. They support the theory behind SOPA and the spirit of the law, but not its word, and we all know that the second someone grabs the gavel, the spirit of the law is ignored.
Even though they realize it’s a problem that needs to be solved, the capabilities of the bill has rubbed them the wrong way, and they call upon the government to actually make a bill that fulfills the spirit of the law without allowing it to be abused. The White House has a similar opinion on this, saying that any law like this should safeguard against potential abuse.
I would rather simply have the internet be bound by international law instead of local law, problem solved. The only people who would likely be mad in an ideal sense are bigwigs running dictatorships and oppressive countries, but they don’t count. The ESA was criticized by gamers for their stance on SOPA, and many tied to the gaming industry were calling for action against ESA, which would include a boycott of E3. Something like that would have caused a bigger stir than anything they could reveal if done in a large enough number.
The ESA did not come out of this unscathed however, as they had spent a massive $200,000 lobbying the Protest IP Act, which has also been dropped. Many companies are dropping their support for SOPA in wake of protests and the anger of gamers who have simply had it to the back teeth with piracy prevention measures.
Congressman Lamar Smith has announced that he will postpone any attempt to make further action on the bill, even though he is the creator of the bill. He, like many supporters and ex-supporters of SOPA, believes in the spirit of the law, but not how it’s written.
Though I hate pirates, I believe there needs to be an international legal body for the internet that can prosecute online pharmacists, counterfitters, spammers, producers of illegal pornography, fake casinos, phishers, scammers, producers of malware, and the countless other criminal scumbags across the world. Compared to the harm they cause, piracy is a drop in the bucket.