ESA bucks industry trend with SOPA support

US trade body urged to rethink stance on controversial piracy bill

US trade body the Entertainment Software Association has publicly given support for the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, a move which has angered some industry figures and seems contradictory to many members' stances.

SOPA is a US bill of law which would, if passed, give the government and copyright holders the right to shut down websites which are hosting copyright infringing material. It is designed to prevent torrent and piracy download sites proliferating protected material, but has been the subject of heated debate thanks to the widespread powers which it would grant.

"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," read the supporting statement from the ESA, issued yesterday.

"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 wilful wrongdoers that do not impede lawful product and business model innovation."

But many industry companies and individuals fail to share the body's enthusiasm for SOPA, with several constituent members, including Sony and Nintendo, have removed their initial support for the bill, whilst EA has publicly stated that it never supported the version of the bill which was proposed in congress, but could stand behind something with similar aims.

Now, indie dev Nathan Fouts, who created Weapon of Choice and Serious Sam: Double D, has written an open letter to the ESA asking it to re-consider its position. In that letter, published on his blog, Fouts claims that, by supporting the bill, the ESA is adding the vicarious support of its members.

"The ESA represents the video game industry, including companies such as Sony Entertainment and Nintendo which have dropped support for SOPA. This bill is bad for the internet and bad for the video game industry. Please show the world that the game industry does not support SOPA, and please have the ESA withdraw support."

Destructoid's Jim Sterling has also made his voice heard on the matter, publishing another open letter which describes the bill as "hypocrisy on a most despicable level," after the ESA's work to ensure that video games were entitled to the same constitutional protection as other forms of artistic expression, exempting them from certain law.

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Latest comments (13)

Wesley Williams Quality Assurance 6 years ago
Terrible choice by the ESA
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Dave Mitchell Founder, Two Tails6 years ago
Seems bad form that the ESA is supporting the bill when it isn't speaking for all it's members.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 6 years ago
Maybe i've been reading the coverage of the bill incorrectly but i was under the impression that SOPA grants the ability to shut down websites that are alleged to be hosting copyrighted content. No proof is needed to perform the initial shutdown...
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Show all comments (13)
Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 6 years ago
The site is not shut down, merely the domain name does not get resolved. All you need to do is type the IP address in manually. Or go to the network settings tab and put in a secondary DNS server which is not operated by an U.S. ISP.

If IP blocking is used, then IPV6 affords some interesting opportunities to utterly corrupt these attempts with a foreign DNS server.

If connection to foreign DNS servers are to be stopped, it requires deep level package inspection on part of the ISP, which will be the end of privacy as you know it.
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David Spender Lead Programmer 6 years ago
Typing in the IP address for sites that use virtual hosts will not work. Services that circumvent the block - a secondary DNS server, Tor, or any of the plugins being developed would be, according to the bill, illegal.

From CNET:

"A broad interpretation of SOPA's anti-circumvention language would sweep even more broadly than Tor. Software such as VPNs, used by security-conscious businesses, can also "bypass" a SOPA-established blockade. So could DNS software. And even the humble "etc hosts" file, part of every major operating system including OS X, Linux, and Windows, can be pressed into service as a SOPA-bypasser as well."
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Matthew Harrington Programmer/ game designer 6 years ago
not the way to sort the problem, the bill opens up way too much power.

It would be abused the same way the terrorist act has been abused.
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Taylan Kay Designer / Lead Programmer at Black Gate Studios, Nerd Corps Entertainment6 years ago
SOPA is just another kind of extreme corporate protectionism that takes the easy route by shutting out alternatives to industries that need to innovate their value offer. In the end it would only rot the industry from inside, not unlike the way US automakers went bust (or any other sector of their decimated manufacturing base really). Refusing to see piracy as a customer service problem, ignoring the shortcomings of their own business models, taking the audience for granted and actively conspiring to keep them captive through lobbying. Terribly short-sighted. It is shameful that ESA supports this.

If SOPA is legislated I'm officially going to start my own Buy European program.
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Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer 6 years ago
This is like trying to kill off a strain of viruses with a nuclear bomb. SOPA is going to cause so many more problems than what it's claiming to fix. America, do your part and resist!
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Mathias Johansson Co-founder, SkyGoblin6 years ago
The hypothetical increase of profits my company could gain through SOPA is insignificant compared to the huge damage SOPA will most definitely cause the internet community as a whole. I find the ESA hotshots to be quite ignorant to the importance of free flow of information for the global games industry.
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Andrew Walker VP, Business Development, Suddenly Social6 years ago
Over a hundred legal academics sent a letter to Congress warning them about the dangers of SOPA and its Senate counterpart, Protect-IP. You can find the letter here -

[link url=

If you read the analysis, it gives you an understanding that SOPA undermines protection of censorship of the First Amendment, and could seriously inhibit internet commerce. For the ESA to support a bill that invites censorship is bizarre at best, and at worst hypocritical after fighting so hard to protect video games from other forms of extreme legislation.
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Stefano Ronchi Indie Game Developer 6 years ago
"We look forward to working with the House and Senate, and all interested parties, to find the right balance..." most likely being dumb here, but it seems to me that they are doing the sensible thing: supporting SOPA so that they can work together to find a correct balance.

Like, to make sure that the SOPA isn't a tyrants whip, rather the tool the Videogame Industry needs: it seems to me they are sensibly looking forward, understanding that in some cases it is better to join the current so that it can be modified rather than waste energy, and are doing exactly that -instead of people removing their back-up and not being willing to make the policy better.

Let's face it: the internet needs something harsh like this, before the overbloating of communication and information causes a major crash, so I say good luck to ESA in trying to steer SOPA down the right path.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 6 years ago
I find it hard to believe that the ESA carries any real weight with regards to being able to materially affect the composition of the bill. Better, instead, to join forces with the building opposition to it instead of being an ineffectual patsy.

Also, Stefano:
"Let's face it: the internet needs something harsh like this, before the overbloating of communication and information causes a major crash"

I can't even comprehend this statement. I mean, literally. I do not understand it or the premise(s) or assumptions behind it.
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Henrique Olifiers Gamer-In-Chief, Co-Founder, Bossa Studios6 years ago
ESA's support to SOPA is nothing short of disgusting, proof of a body totally out of touch with reality on so many levels.

It's a tremendous shame that such a cutting-edge industry finds itself aligned and somewhat represented by ESA.
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