UK Games Industry Body TIGA Against SOPA

By John Walker on January 19th, 2012 at 8:58 am.

ROAR!

After a lot of pestering since the SOPA/PIPA news began to boil over, TIGA – the UK’s trade association that represents the UK games industry – has come out against SOPA (and presumably in turn, PIPA). This is good news, as the developer-representing body is one of the UK equivalents to the US Entertainment Software Association, who Kotaku revealed yesterday are not only supporters of the bill, but had heavily invested in it to the tune of $190,000. And that’s just in the second and third quarters of last year. They’re refusing to say what they’ve spent more recently. But TIGA, who are clearly a far smaller body with an awful lot less money, are not going along with this. In fact, they describe the bills as “inhibiting innovation” and “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

Dr. Richard Wilson, TIGA’s CEO, gave a statement saying,

“The worry is that this legislation would expose online games businesses to damaging legal action, while inhibiting innovation and leading to over-caution online. Videogame companies could have to spend time and money analysing the behaviour of their users.

“TIGA understands the need to clamp down on rogue websites – those which blatantly make money from piracy and therefore restrict the profit margins of developers and digital publishers – but it believes SOPA would be a sledgehammer cracking a nut.”

The body also included words from Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard, who explained that the bills would create a “national censorship firewall for American internet users”, explaining that this could “crush the community element of online gaming and could result in a huge lack of freedom of speech, creativity and opinion sharing”.

These are pretty clear statements, and it’s great to see the body defending gamers and developers.

But what about UKIE, the direct equivalent to the ESA? Well, they’ve fudged. Despite a headline that claims “UKIE comments on SOPA and announces industry debate to explore ways of positively building on the power of our products and services for game makers and players alike”, the statement goes on to not comment on SOPA at all. Instead it says it plans to host industry debates,

“to explore ways of positively building on the power of our products and services for game makers and players alike. This will happen in the coming weeks and will extend beyond our membership to all those involved in our innovative industry.”

One could infer from this that they’re not supporters of SOPA/PIPA, as they certainly avoid saying they are, and seem to be suggesting alternative solutions. However, they also don’t say that they’re against it, and we’re going to continue pressing them for a clear response. Unfortunately, they’ve flat-out ignored our enquiries so far.

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41 Comments »

  1. cliffski says:

    I keep seeing lists of companies that have spent money lobbying for SOPA, which I think is good to know, but I’m pretty sure two of the biggest IT companies in the world, facebook and google, have lobbied against it. I’m also guessing they spent quite a bit of cash doing so. I wouldnt be surprised if the anti-SOPA lobby had more money.
    I’d be wary of shouting too loud about the pro-SOPA evil lobbying expenses, just in case it turns out this is the case :D.

    • MiniMatt says:

      That is a good point, got to be careful not to fall into the trap of “they’re the baddies, anything they do is bad, we’re the goodies, if we do the same that’s good”.

      Incidentally, TIGA were represented by Brevia (not to be confused with breville toasties) last year so I guess they have a bit of cash to throw around. And they met Ed Vaizey (culture, media, etc) in 2010.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Lobbying to pass a law, which the overwhelming majority of experts agree is terrible, purely because of your commercial interests is not the same thing as lobbying against a bad law, even if it is to protect your commercial interests. The key factor is that the law is terrible.

    • mondomau says:

      Cliffski: I’m not sure I see your point – It is an unfortunate fact that the US lobbying system, rightly or wrongly (wrongly), pretty much requires money to be spent to support your cause.

      Whether or not organisations who are openly anti-SOPA spend more on lobbying than their opponents is kind of irrelevant – what’s more pertinent to us, as end users with a high stake and little say, is the fact that companies and organisations that rely on our loyalty and good opinion are throwing money into backing a bill that serves no one’s interests but their own, and is actively damaging the industry for the sake of short term gain.

      This goes double for the instances where the bodies in question have denied, or refused to comment on, their support for SOPA/PIPA.

    • CMaster says:

      I’m not sure that the point is that “they spent money lobbying, therefore they are evil” so much as “ESA have actually made material support towards the law, not just some PR statements”.

    • cliffski says:

      My point is just that saying “look evil lobbying money behind sopa!” might backfire if it turns out the anti-sopa lobby spent more, which given it’s big name backers, would not surprise me.

      If you are against corporate lobbying of politicians, then you should be against it on principle, not pick and choose, otherwise you are on dodgy ethical ground.
      The same google & facebook lawyers trying to scrap SOPA are the same ones ensuring you are outgunned when both companies treat your privacy as a chew toy. Lets not over-romanticise the actions of those companies.

      Or to put it another way, your enemies enemy is not always your friend. It’s that line of thought that led the CIA to give surface to air missiles to the taliban :D

    • mondomau says:

      Cliffski: “If you are against corporate lobbying of politicians, then you should be against it on principle, not pick and choose, otherwise you are on dodgy ethical ground.”

      I can’t find the bit in Walker’s article where he even implies that? I know some groups take the stance you’re referring to and there your point is valid, I just don’t see that’s it’s relevant here – there is no opinion one way or the other on the morality of lobbying, simply a statement of who is doing it. The focus is on the fact that these groups are serving (what they misguidedly believe to be) their own best interests, not that they are evil because they spend money on lobbying.

    • MiniMatt says:

      @mondomau – I do get (or at least I think I get) what Cliffski’s saying here.

      Now I’m quite sure he’s big enough and ugly enough to speak for himself but I don’t read his comments as suggesting that JW is stating or even implying that lobbying is one sided but I do think that the article *could* be (mis)interpreted in that way (to no fault of the author, and little the author could do about it).

      Rather I see Cliffski’s comments as a useful additional note to be aware of in the context of the wider debate, one which I – and I suspect Cliffski – fully believe that JW & RPS are already more than aware of.

      Presenting an effective argument is essential to any debate, an effective argument has to stand up to impartial scrutiny even if the arguer is firmly entrenched in a given camp. This is something which I believe RPS has done on this and many other occasions, the warning Clffski gives is a valid one but one which is likely aimed at the wider debate and not necessarily at a given article.

      I’ve put far too many words in Cliffski’s mouth here and actually he’s made his point far more effectively than I anyway, so I’ll shut up :o)

    • cliffski says:

      well if you mention the big money lobbying on one side of an argument, I really think you should list the big money on the other side too. Surely thats just being balanced?

    • newprince says:

      That’s what a lot of non-Americans (and actually Americans too who aren’t up on their own political system) usually imagine: all lobbying is for bad things, and ‘good’ causes (obviously nebulous) don’t have any money, and are the little guy. Films like Thank You For Smoking etc. always tend to play on this picture.

      That is really not the case, however. Although I abhor lobbying in a general sort of way (because the cycle of money and re-election really delays any real change and silences the vox populi), I have to admit simply protesting to get things done is only one avenue for reform, and lobbying is one of those unavoidable things you must do if you want to affect legislation. But, I don’t go so far as some do in political theory, and excuse money in politics, claiming “people were going to vote that way anyway.” Much too apologist in my view.

    • Azradesh says:

      I believe the numbers are $94 or $98 mill spent for SOPA and $11 or $14 against. The lobby system in US politics corrupts it, how can you fight against something within that system unless you lobby as well?

  2. Ragabhava says:

    Methinks that the Sopa/Pipa guys are very well aware of the fact that its a sledgehammer to crack a nut: once the public outrage has set in (as of now) they can ‘amend’ the texts to something which looks much less drastic in comparison but which could be draconian nonetheless.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I think everyone is prepared for that. Wasn’t that the thinking behind PIPA?

    • sonofsanta says:

      Does that mean we can blame all this kerfuffle on Ubisoft’s DRM which followed a similar path and therefore could have inspired SOPA? I think it’s important that we celebrate the return of RPS with a traditional DRM-based “Ubisoft are arseholes” thread.

    • bigtoeohno says:

      The opinion of the average person seems to mean less and less. It’s incredibly disturbing, Sure we’re given a voice and can like this and hate that but are we achieving anything for the people? Are we smack bang in the middle of an age of oppression i really do wonder sometimes.

    • enobayram says:

      Is it healthy that seeing the characters ‘U’, ‘b’, ‘i’, ‘s’, ‘o’, ‘f’, ‘t’ consecutively nauseates me? Or should I see my doctor?

  3. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    Shut down the hospitals and soup kitchens, not the internet, that’s the only way to stop those filthy pirates.

  4. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    but had heavily invested in it to the tune of $190,000.

    Wait, you can buy a law now? Those cheeky Americans.

    • Azhrarn says:

      In US politics, that’s the norm these days.
      Laws are more frequently written by the lobbyists themselves than the politicians who claim to bring it forward. SOPA is a good example of that.
      If a group wants something put into law, they usually just throw a bunch of money at a group of representatives and it gets done.
      Bribery is, simply put, legal in the US system.

    • Avenger says:

      I am ashamed to see I have been oblivious to how these things work up until now.

      A sum of $190.000 could be used for a lot of great things. It can nurture indie companies. It can repair whatever damage a company may have received due to piracy. It can organize schools, conventions or a lot of different events to benefit the industry and help games advance and get accepted as an art form.

      It blows my mind to think this amount is being spent only to make someone say something to someone else…

      Where does the money go then? Literally? I am dead serious, has anyone considered the income in dollar per syllable terms?

      Is that how that really works? WTF is wrong with mankind?

    • mondomau says:

      @ Frightlever: Actually, that’s pretty much how it works in the UK as well. Pick up a copy of Private Eye sometime. It used to be slightly more subtle – MPs and advisors sitting on quangos and boards to advise on a law / contract award turn up as executive directors for the the beneficiary a few months / year later. Now days it’s more ‘here’s a bag of cash and some expensive trips, make sure it goes our way eh?’.

    • D3xter says:

      Of course lobbyism is widespread only in the US *winkwink*…
      It isn’t as if in the majority of the EU there’s extra jobs for lobby people in politics (they call them experts) to “inform” on certain issues and even “help” (and with that I mean write all by their own) write some laws. And it’s not as if both political figures and judges sometimes find themselves in the board of directors of certain companies, whether it be while they still have some power or shortly afterwards.
      In Germany there’s even a few organizations and sites dedicated to this issue alone like:
      http://www.lobbycontrol.de/ and their “Lobbypedia”.

    • Colthor says:

      For a concrete UK example, the Digital Economy Act was written by the British Phonographic Industry.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Forgive my ignorance of politics, but it seems that this is something that would be completely at odds with what Overlord Obama stands for?

    • mondomau says:

      @ Frightlever: Oh I heartily agree – PE can get a bit too much some times, if only because it gets depressing. Some of the satirical pieces at the back are a bit borderline Viz in their humour. Still, it’s worth picking up from time to time to remind yourself that absolutely no one in mainstream media or government is to be trusted one little bit.

      As for podcasts – if you are not already a fan, go and subscribe to the Bugle with Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver (from Today Show for the US readers) . It used to be called ‘The Times Online Bugle’ but they recently got booted for insulting News Int. once too often. They’re still on the air, with a (currently) anonymous new sponsor. Well worth a listen.

  5. bigtoeohno says:

    I can’t help to find the comical side of the PIPA/SOPA ridiculousness. I mean turning the entire digital world on it’s head so that Alvin and The Chipmunks can rake in a couple of extra percentiles profit. It leaves me feeling really uneasy that this is a genuine tactic from the powers that be. SURELY there are better answers.

  6. jon_hill987 says:

    When they say “heavily invested in it to the tune of $190,000″ they mean bribes lobbying don’t they?

  7. Cryo says:

    And apparently buying politicians is quite cheap too!

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      Don’t forget that most politicians are idiots too and have a poor understanding of the things that are put before them to vote on. That is, when they’ve even bothered to educate themselves about what it is they are voting on. While money certainly talks, ignorance and stupidity are far greater enemies in politics in the modern world.

  8. widowfactory says:

    Richard Wilson? I don’t believe it!

    In seriousness though this is awful news. Is there a petition or at least something the little man can do?

  9. Lewie Procter says:

    I don’t recall them saying anything about the Digital Economy bill, can anyone remember if TIGA had a stance on that?

  10. rustybroomhandle says:

    Remember to continue the protest by not giving E3 any coverage. Just pretend there is no E3.

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