In the aftermath of the death of the Stop Online Piracy Act, many are still fuming over the sudden 180 that the Entertainment Software Association demonstrated, just a few hours after the House of Representatives decided to throw in the towel.
Aside from the joy of victory, that First Amendment rights were in slightly less danger for the time being, there was also a sense of validation, especially among gamers. (Primarily those who had contacted game publishers that supported of the bill, in hopes of convincing them otherwise.) While the response among individual companies varied, it's unquestionable the voices of their customers were heard. But the one entity whose support for SOPA never wavered was the ESA.
On numerous occasions, the entity that had been established to protect the interests of the game industry, including legislation, was asked to give up their support of SOPA. And each time, the ESA clarified their commitment towards the bill. So when the following statement was issued, just a few hours after lawmakers chose to postpone any further actions, many were beside themselves:
"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."
While it is nice for them to finally acknowledge the "unintended consequences" that SOPA embodied, their sudden change in attitude being analogous to abandoning a ship that has already sunk is one of the kinder things said about the organization from the countless blog entries, message board posts, and tweets that have come as a result (especially among those who are involved in the game industry).
Furthermore, "current legislative proposals" are perhaps the words that everyone should truly pay attention to; if and when a successor to SOPA makes itself known, it's a safe bet that the ESA may be behind that as well, given its track record.
It's also still worth asking what prompted an about face to being with, especially after the fact. Destructoid wonders if those talks of boycotting E3, the ESA's biggest cash cow, from earlier in the week played a part. While many believed it an unpractical plan, there was a surprising amount of of talk among many who were seriously entertaining the idea.
- Members of the gaming press are calling for a boycott of E3
- Wikipedia traffic surged during SOPA blackout
- Congress withdraws SOPA, PIPA anti-piracy measures
Matthew Hawkins is a NYC based game journalist who has also written for EGM, GameSetWatch, Gamasutra, Giant Robot, and numerous others. He also self-publishes his own game culture zine, is part of Attract Mode, and co-hosts of The Fangamer Podcast. You can keep tabs on him via Twitter, or his personal home-base, FORT90.com.