The Entertainment Software Association announced that it no longer supports the Stop Online Piracy Act or the Protect IP Act. In a statement released today the trade group representing the video game industry said that it had always intended to support a bill that was balanced and fair.
Of course a simple read-through of either law would indicate that SOPA and PIPA did not take a balanced approach to the internet’s nature of free expression and sharing. In fact it took a draconian approach to enforcement that used the power of the federal government to take down websites without due process. The ESA's statement:
"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."
The ESA was widely criticized by the gaming community for being hypocritical on the issue of free speech – particularly in light of the groundswell of support from gamers in their Supreme Court fight against the state of California (Brown v. EMA). Some publications even called for a boycott of the group’s annual game industry event E3.
We’ll leave the pontifications on motivation and sincerity to our readers. We do want to take this time to applaud the ESA for finally and quite publicly dropping its support for these horrific bills.