A new article over at TechDirt penned by the Entertainment Consumer Association's Vice President and General Counsel, Jennifer Mercurio, explains why the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP are bad for everyone – especially gamers. Mercurio lays out what this means to everyday internet users when it comes to video performance and fair use in the first paragraph:
"If a pair of bills on Capitol Hill, called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP, pass, you could be fined and thrown in jail for streaming (i.e., 'performing') your video game speed runs or game play. Just as people post cute pictures and videos of themselves, their pets and their kids singing and dancing to copyrighted works, gamers of all ages routinely post pics and stream video of themselves during game play. All of these things have, for the most part, been considered 'fair use' under the law. Tens of thousands of videos currently available online featuring game play from popular games like Call of Duty, Halo, Starcraft and others could be made illegal under these laws."
We recommend you go to TechDirt and read the whole thing but Mercurio lays out all the arguments as to why these poorly worded bills are dangerous to free speech, fair use, and how it takes away due process for those accused of running web sites pegged as trafficking in illegal software or counterfeit products. In other words, these bills give law enforcement the ability to punish those they deem as wrongdoers before they have a chance to fairly defend themselves. This is the basic foundation of our rights – I.E. when we are accused of a crime we are not guilty until proven innocent.
The article concludes with a reminder that the ECA opposes these bills and offers free online tools to help the public let their elected representatives know how they feel about it. Find out more at theeca.com/video_gamers_rights.
Thanks to Uncharted NES for his urgent tip!
[Full Disclosure: GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]