The Entertainment Software Association, amidst pressure from the game development industry and players at large, has dropped support of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
The controversial legislation has been a matter of debate and protest since its announcement in the U.S. Congress. The ESA vocally supported and backed the bill, claiming it was representing its membership in doing so. Members threatened boycott of the organization and its upcoming E3 convention while some created a new, counter-agency to the ESA, the League for Gamers.
ESA, for its part, removed its support of SOPA without apologizing or denouncing the legislation itself, calling for “more balanced” copyright enforcement.
“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,” the group said in a statement. “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.”
Obviously, from this statement, it can be seen that the ESA was not worried so much about the draconian legislation as it is about the fact that its support of that legislation was a public relations disaster. Their measured statement makes it clear they are still ready to back any expansion of copyright enforcement regardless of how it affects privacy or free speech.
The legislation itself, in both the U.S. House and Senate, has been shelved due to overwhelming backlash from voters, mostly through online protests. Threats from some of the Internet’s largest websites, including Google and Wikipedia, to close down operations for a day on January 18 in protest of SOPA along with tens of thousands of letters and emails from constituents convinced lawmakers to stop action promoting the bill.
Blackouts of many websites around the Web on the 18th came shortly after the bills were shelved, though many believe that the holding of the bills is only temporary and that they may return once elections are over.