RPS Asks ESA Members To Denounce SOPA

Protect the internet, folks.

You’ve probably heard of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, by now. It’s the bill that is currently being considered in the US, that on the surface appears to be an attempt to control piracy, but with only the tiniest scrapes reveals a genuinely terrifying, draconian attempt to introduce government censorship of the internet at the behest of unelected corporations. While it initially had the support of a number of big internet players, that has rapidly ceased to be the case, with massive online corps pulling support or having refused it in the first place. From Facebook to Google, AOL to Yahoo, and so many other big players, the bill is being condemned as a threat to free speech, online business, any “safe harbor” protections that the DMCA had left behind, and being so poorly worded that it pretty much outlaws using the internet at all. So why is it the Entertainment Software Association is in support?

Clearly they’re not alone. The list of supporters is as long as it is frightening, and unsurprisingly features all the usual players like the MPAA, RIAA, and so on.

This is an American bill, but it obviously wouldn’t only affect America. Which is no small part of the massive issues surrounding it – it’s a bill that will affect the whole world, most of which didn’t get a vote for the responsible bodies. That’s because its goal is to “prevent US support of foreign infringing sites”. It would allow the US Department of Justice, and indeed any business with enough money, to seek a court order to have a website they claim is infringing copyright blocked from US access. This would mean service providers would have to,

(i) IN GENERAL- A service provider shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent access by its subscribers located within the United States to the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) that is subject to the order, including measures designed to prevent the domain name of the foreign infringing site (or portion thereof) from resolving to that domain name’s Internet Protocol address. Such actions shall be taken as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within 5 days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order.

And search engines would be required to,

(B) INTERNET SEARCH ENGINES- A provider of an Internet search engine shall take technically feasible and reasonable measures, as expeditiously as possible, but in any case within 5 days after being served with a copy of the order, or within such time as the court may order, designed to prevent the foreign infringing site that is subject to the order, or a portion of such site specified in the order, from being served as a direct hypertext link.

Then payment sites and advertisers must too sever all links within five days of the court order. Which is to say, if a corporation claims that a site is infringing their copyright, then without that site’s involvement at any level, it will be required by US law to be blocked from access, invisible on search engines, and be completely unknowable in the US. It makes China look like a haven of free and open speech.

Let’s be absolutely clear. The SOPA is wrong. No matter anyone’s position on piracy, it is not a relevant factor in this debate. The SOPA is so poorly worded that it makes something as simple as a proxy server illegal – an essential tool used by the Arab Spring uprising, for instance. The wording throughout the bill is melodramatic nonsense, screaming about “theft of US property” and other such terms that have no meaningful use in this matter. Its consequences could be so far reaching, and will inevitably see other world governments enacting the same, which will target US sites and businesses, making it far less likely that they will be able to trade overseas. It will see major US companies moving their servers, and possibly their entire businesses, out of the US such that they can continue to trade freely, without fear of the dangerously sloppy act.

The most immediately obvious issues come with any site that allows user content. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and so on, could all face being blocked if their users violate the act. Each company would be liable for offending links, and the Electrionic Frontier Foundation has argued that many major sites will simply have to shut down should it be enforced. And blocking IPs, as the act will do, will mean any number of irrelevant and innocent sites will be lost too.

And yet the ESA has just made clear that it is in support of the bill. Which means, in turn, so is every major games publisher it represents. Which is all of them but Activision.


Techdirt posts the ESA statement, in which they make it clear that they have no problems with a bill that circumvents all the safe harbours offered by the already catastrophic Digital Millennium Copyright Act, that had previously ensured ISPs, search engines, etc, didn’t have to actively police users.

“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. 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 willful wrongdoers that do not impede lawful product and business model innovation.”

Never mind that there’s not a scrap of evidence to support their claims about such sites costing jobs, because that’s not the discussion here. The issue is, as they say, the industry believes it needs “effective remedies”, and SOPA is no such thing. No matter what caveats are attached, unlike so many other major players they are willing to attach their name to the bill as it is. Which is made all the more bitter by the seeming hypocrisy pointed out by Destructoid’s Jim Sterling. Last year, he observes, the ESA came begging to gamers to rescue it from the threat of receiving sales restrictions on games branded “violent”. This attempt at censorship directly threatened their members’ profits, and was eventually recognised as being in violation of the US’s First Amendment. However, this time out their interests in “free speech” seem to be somewhat different, as their perceived threat to profits is reversed. It’s pretty grotesque.

Other members of the gaming industry had previously been suggested to be in favour of the bill. On the 20th November, Joystiq were reporting that Apple and Microsoft were joining Nintendo, Sony and EA, to support it. This wasn’t quite the case – Sony, Nintendo and EA had all said they’d support something like the bill, before it actually existed. However, after they’d read it, by 30th December and they stated they were against it. They were joined by the Business Software Alliance, who despite having issued a statement supporting the bill in October, had eventually noticed that it supports internet censorship which they were supposed to be against. Which also removes Apple’s support.

But here’s the problem. Nintendo, Sony, EA, Microsoft and so on are all represented by the ESA. So while they’ve all said they aren’t supporting the bill, the reality is by their membership of the ESA, they are. Which means something has to be done.

Joystiq spotted Serious Sam DD developer, Mommy’s Best Games, asking ESA members to speak out against the bill. And we’d like to join him.

We believe the internet is incredibly precious, and we’re in terrible danger of taking it for granted. Allowing something like SOPA to go through is intolerable, and even though we’re the other side of the world, it’s something we believe we should fight against.

The ESA represents 34 publishers, and we’d like to see them all state publicly that they’re against the SOPA, and thus make the ESA support meaningless. We will be contacting as many of them as we can to hear their position.

We’ve also contacted the UK industry bodies, TIGA and UKIE, to ask what position they’re taking on the matter, and will update when we hear back from them.


Epic have come out against SOPA, as reported by Joystiq. And 38 Studios have posted in a comment on their Facebook that they don’t support it in its current form.


  1. johnpeat says:

    Could be worse – you could live in Belarus…

    link to bbc.co.uk


    • Kollega says:

      Ah yes, Belarus. The last dicatorship of Europe. This line –

      Fines for breaking the law range as high as 1 million Belarus rubles (£77; $120).

      – should tell you everything about it.

    • boywithumbrella says:

      The hysteria about the belarusian law restricting certain internet usage is dramatically misinformed (originally through an “interpretation” by the US Library of Congress). I have no idea as to why exactly that happened (either a severe mistranslation or a deliberate misinformation), but the fact is that the law – although really bad for businesses, belarusian economy in general and with impact on normal consumers – does not prohibit access to foreign websites. I have translated the actual text of the law:
      link to reddit.com

      please take the time to read it (it’s just 5 paragraphs) before expressing any kind of “opinions” about the matter.

    • johnpeat says:

      Whether the ‘hysteria’ relates to poor (deliberately so, perhaps?) translation or not – the law, even in your translation, is BAT SHIT BONKERS and makes SOPA look positively level-headed…

      All this “if you do business in Belarus you must do it from the Belarus domain name” suggests those who drew-up the law have no idea how the system works (so it has that in common with every other bit of legislation which attempts to control the Internet then!!)

      The fact it requires all internet access to be logged is the biggest gotcha of them all tho – the more you monitor people, the better they hide what they do and I’m afraid “the Internet” is smarter, faster and just plan better-equipped to deal with any attempt to restrict it’s use than any Government appears to believe it is…

      Even is SOPA were enacted, I don’t think it would really cause more than an annoying speedbump for Internet users (an expensive and pointless one) – Belarus is just demonstrating on a global scale that it’s bereft of ideas and it’s isolationism is going to be it’s undoing…

    • boywithumbrella says:


      don’t get me wrong, I do think that the whole law is bat shit bonkers (in quite those terms as well), but you have to admit that the whole story is being hyped precisely by the fact that it allegedly prohibits access to non-belarusian websites – and this leading fact is a fabrication. So please talk about it! but without telling lies.

      On a semi-related note: if you compare the impact on the internet as a whole, SOPA is by far worse than law 317-3.
      Again, I am not trying to downplay 317-3, but it makes me really sad and angry to see the facts so twisted – and hyped for that. If TorrentFreak wrote an article on how SOPA is supposed to literally shut down all of internet you’d say “exaggerated humbug” and move on (or maybe try to correct them), instead of linking it everywhere – I just hope to expect the same treatment for non-US news.

    • Droopy The Dog says:

      A bit late so no-one probably going to notice. Actually, the BBC article linked isn’t factually incorrect as I understand it, it wouldn’t be overly cynical to think the way it’s so carefully worded is a deliberate attempt to lead you to the wrong conclusion.

      Specifically it says “…will face fines if their customers visit foreign websites and such visits are not properly recorded and reported”. They would, on the grounds of trying to cirumvent the monitoring (not properly recorded), but they would face fines whether the website was foreign or not.

      Of course simply stating foreign when it’s irrelevent to the case has a clear intent to lead readers to a distorted conclusion, but it’s not technically wrong. Although I’d prefer it if they were, at least then I could pretend it was an accident rather than deliberate.

  2. AmateurScience says:

    Down with this sort of thing!

    • RaveTurned says:

      Careful now…

    • Sheng-ji says:

      If it goes through – and lets pray that it doesn’t – we should all chip in a few pounds and apply to have the supporters of this blocked – hoisted by their own petards!

  3. Milky1985 says:

    I feel it is important to mention that there is a SECOND act they are trying to push through, which is basically just as bad as SOPA, but there is a risk that they will push the second act through “as its not as bad as SOPA but still helps”.

    The second act is called “PROTECT IP” and its goals are “stated goal of giving the US government and copyright holders additional tools to curb access to “rogue websites dedicated to infringing or counterfeit goods”, especially those registered outside the U.S.”

    Its just as bad as SOPA, but its under the radar since they are both being painted together with the same brush

    • zind says:

      Thankfully PIPA is the Senate bill, and actually has less of a chance of passing due to some of the absurdity inherent in our system, coupled with the fact that even some of the senators I hate most are threatening to filibuster the shit out of this thing.

      But yeah, they’re both bad news. I have been sending a couple emails a week and making a couple phone calls a month, even though one of my state’s senators seems to be irrevocably in support, and is one of the most grotesquely bought-and-paid-for politicians I know of. (The other I also deeply dislike, but is one of the ones threatening filibuster, so I guess it’s a wash.)

    • SiHy_ says:

      Hmmm. I’m not sure about the US political system but I know that putting out a proposal that is completely abhorant before putting out the proper proposal, which is still abhorant but slightly less so that the previous one, is a common strategy for getting a proposal accepted.
      People then say “Well it’s bad but at least it’s better than the previous one” and as opinions aren’t formed so much as spread like a virus everyone starts parroting this and before you know it you’ve got a terrible policy.
      Or maybe I’m just too cynical. :)

    • Milky1985 says:


      Yep, i’m excatly as cynical as a few other people, who have mentioned that this is a possiblity of what could happen (I think TotalBiscuit said it in his SOPA vid, and its been mentioned a few times before).

      Tis why i thougth a front page comment about it might help, cause it does get overlooked a bit, yes its not AS bad, but if you look at the way things work it seems to happen a lot.

      Look at ubisoft and there drm (very different example i know, but a similar idea), since it now allows you to play if your net get disconnected the fact that you have to be online isn’t AS bad as being online all the time.. but people were upset at first about being online at all to launch!

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      It’s a bit like the Door-in-Face-Technique:

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      We’ve had it over here on our side of the pond too.

      In the UK a couple of years back the Labour Gov wanted to issue us all with mandatory ID cards, linked to the National Identity Register, which were originally to be carried at all times. They also mooted the inclusion of RFID chips:

      link to theregister.co.uk

      Oh, and they were also going to issue police with hand-held units too. There was a bit of backtracking:

      link to theregister.co.uk

      And then there was more backtracking: eventually the cards would be voluntary, but if you renewed your passport it was mandatory to have one and have your biometric details on the register. In other words if you wanted to avoid having an ID card and being on the register, you would have a bit of difficulty going on holiday.

      Suffice to say it wasn’t just the Tinfoil hat guys who objected to this palava. Even Stella Rimington, ex head of MI5, wasn’t happy with the ID cards plan:

      link to guardian.co.uk

      After much ballyhoo, and sneaking the vote through on the same day as the vote on the smoking ban (you can imagine which motion the tabloids were most concerned with), a much watered-down version of the bill came out, in which there was no RFID tracking, and the card could be left at home.

      Not many people realised the National Identity Register database, the devil in the detail, was still in the works. With that, every time the database was accessed by anybody, e.g. your bank or any other organisation, details of that check would be kept on the register, thus building up an unprecedented audit of the everyday lives of UK citizens.

      It took a bungled IT job, soaring costs and a change of Government to get rid of it in its current form, but like a dose of political herpes the concept keeps coming back, again and again…

    • TWeaK says:

      IIRC SOPA was the second bill, and PIPA came along first. Correct me if I’m wrong.

      Either way, both are complete bollucks, not to mention the fact that they do nothing for the stereotype of Americans loving acronyms.

    • emertonom says:

      In fact, PROTECT IP was the second one, but SOPA is the third–before those, there was COICA, the “combatting online infringement of copyright act.”

      EDIT: Removed my excessively tall steed.

  4. Tuggy Tug says:

    Inability to adapt to modern culture/technology manifests itself in things such as this.

    SOPA is a ridiculous attempt to maintain profitability for the music, film and video game companies who are still using old models…

    Square peg, round hole…

    • NathanH says:

      I don’t agree with this sentiment, but it is rather beside the point here. Regardless of which side you want to win the war, this particular weapon is not a weapon that should be used.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      I do, however. these industries need to adapt to the modern age. Record companies as we know them are dead, but they just won’t accept that and try to stop change instead of changing themselves. I know plenty of people who used to pirate music, but when faced with a service like Spotify (Or Netflix/LoveFilm etc.) really don[t mind paying the ten euro or what have you a month to have access to whatever music/films they want easily. In my opinion these types of services or ones similiar to them (ease of access, primarily digital, wide selection of goods) are the only viable ways for companies like these to go. If I pirate 100 albums a year, that doesn’t mean record companies have lost 2000 euro, not by a long shot. I’m a poor student living during an economic recession. I’d buy 3-4 albums a year if I had to buy retail. It’s all I could afford really. However, a subscription service costing me 15 euro a month for instance (180 a year) would mean that the record companies would make more, or at least the same amount, and I would get access to as much music as I want as long pay for my subscription. It’s a happy medium.

    • NathanH says:

      Oh well, I suppose I’ll get involved in this argument even though it’s off-topic.

      I don’t like the idea that someone should be considered in the wrong for trying to protect their own interests against illegal acts, just because the prevailing culture is to commit those illegal acts. That sort of thing makes me uncomfortable. It doesn’t seem right. It suggests that if the authorities have let things slip, which they certainly have when it comes to piracy, then there’s no way back for them. I don’t like that idea.

    • Xercies says:


      I’m not going to say that the bill is good. Its terrible. But do we know that the industry does get that much money from Spotify and the like. i would be interested to know what cut the various companies(and there must be loads, since it does contain a lot of music) get from the spotify subscirption/spotify.

    • vecordae says:

      @NathanH: I agree that folks should be given some way of protecting their products from illegal use, but this isn’t it. This is rather like forbidding everyone from talking ever again because it’s gotten a bit too noisy after ten PM.

      I honestly think that new business models are a much more important part of the solution. Providing the services people want at prices they are willing to pay works better than a few hundred lawsuits aimed at teenagers and college kids. Also, sensical laws written by people who actually understand how the internet functions need to be put into place that clearly define what is criminal behavior, rather than letting software companies and their lawyers go about threatening to sue unless someone coughs up a month’s worth of rent money.

    • Azradesh says:


      If all people thought like you then there would still be apartheid in South Africa, slavery, women still wouldn’t be able to vote and vinyl would be banned because it hurts the concert pianist. (not to mention radio and the printing press).

    • Brun says:

      Agreed with this sentiment. The biggest complaint of content makers is that piracy is “restricting demand” for their content. First of all, piracy cannot restrict demand that would not otherwise exist. Once again the content makers believe (falsely) that all pirates would become paying, legitimate customers if piracy were made impossible.

      Second, the outdated business models used by the content makers is at least as important – if not more so – as piracy in restricting demand. You can see this if you recognize the following:

      1) People have an appetite (demand) for content.
      2) In most cases, that appetite cannot be met for various reasons – the biggest being price. People either cannot afford to pay for the amount of content they want, or they don’t believe the content they want is worth the price the content makers are charging. Another factor is convenience – ease of access and such. Cumbersome, outdated DRM or sales strategies mean that content cannot reach consumers at the rate necessary to satisfy demand.
      3) To feed their hunger for content, people will turn to piracy.

      Content makers could forge a working business model from an understanding of the three items above. It’s all about turning pirates into paying customers, but content makers are approaching the problem from the wrong direction. They’re trying to FORCE pirates to do things their way with legislation, which in addition to being completely ineffective will also embitter a large portion of their audience (legal and illegal). What they should be doing is trying to understand why people pirate content and exploit that knowledge to generate profit.

    • Sic says:


      You’re not seeing the big picture.

      Things being illegal is arbitrary. A law is basically just relatively soft social friction, and it’s reactionary. The internet (and technology in general) is a continuous unconditional game changer. Businesses like the film and music industry has grown and survived solely by controlling resources. Making laws like this is simply postponing the inevitable. They have a decreasing degree of control, and they will never have more control again; simply because that’s not the direction the world is going in. The only thing they can do is carve out a smaller area to survive in, and that means that they have to truly embrace things like streaming.

      I’m not a fan of illegal downloading having such a large presence, and being an actual alternative to the legal selling of digital goods, but it is, and the illegal distribution model essentially hasn’t changed since the popularisation of the internet. The industries fighting illegal downloading have completely and utterly failed to utilise technology to their advantage, so that illegal model is still far superior. That’s the real problem here. They literally have had decades to improve their distribution model, and they never did.

      Laws have been incrementally implemented to illegalise downloading full products, but that simply isn’t how the internet works. If anything, the internet was something that came into fruition a bit too soon. We’re still living in a ultra capitalistic world where the economic status quo is being forcibly maintained. Just look at what SOPA actually is, it’s the attempt of another bail-out. Artificially holding dying businesses afloat. That’s not going to work, however, we can’t stop the internet now. Like I said, it is an utter game changer. It doesn’t just change how information flows, it changes the way we have to think about digitised information as a whole, and maybe even how our monetary system is structured.

    • DeathHamsterDude says:

      @NathanH – I’m not sure you got what I meant. I agree with you. As an aspiring writer the idea that someone could steal my original content and pass it on to others worries me. However, SOPA/PIPA are definitely not the way to go. Beyond that, these companies need to look at WHY this is happening and adapt to survive. If they don’t, or can’t, then they’re gone. That’s it. I feel sympathy for the blacksmiths going out of business, but not so much that I would stymy the progress of industrialization.

      @Xercies – That information is out there. It’s not much. But the idea is only going through it’s teething phase. It still needs to be finetuned. However, the most likely result (and one that can be seen to be happening over the past five or so years anyway) is that giant conglomerate record companies will be a thing of the past. There are numerous TRULY indie (independently produced) bands that have hit the mainstream lately, something that could never have happened before. So, smaller record companies and a lot of independent artists is the future, and the thing about that is, 0.15 cents per track listened to is nothing to Sony, but if all that money went to one person, or to a small group of people, then it is absolutely going to make sense for them to do that. Also, most bands make TINY TINY amounts from album sales. It can still add up, but they get a far higher cut on live performances/merchandise (although that is not always the case with merchandise), so I look on this as something that’s going to be BRILLIANT for the industry. It rewards the smaller guy, and makes it easier for them to record/distribute. It’s the way forward.

      @Vecordae – exactly as I was saying. The business model needs to change. They can’t hold progress back.

      @Azradesh – I see where you’re coming from, but that comment is a potential Gibson’s Law right there man.

    • NathanH says:

      vercodae: I agree, this weapon is not a weapon that is worth using, no matter which side you agree with.

      Azradesh: Don’t be an idiot. or if you’re going to be an idiot, write down your reasoning more clearly, because it’s hard to rebut something that’s so idiotic I can’t follow the logic. To make things easier for you, my argument is that just because the majority think something illegal is fine and do it, a minority who is harmed by it is not automatically wrong for fighting back.

      Sic: “The world is going to Hell, so we’d better work out a good way to go to Hell” is a reasonable position to take, but it’s not the only one to stop it. The initial post in this thread was of the form “The world has gone to Hell, so anyone who wants to try to un-Hell it is wrong”, which is a philosophy that strikes me as dangerous and wrong. Now, the copyright holders probably aren’t going to win this war, so fighting it is foolish, but that doesn’t make it wrong.

      DeathHamster: I agree this is the wrong way to fight the war. I don’t agree with the sentiment “Adapt or Die are the only acceptable ways to deal with rampant lawbreaking”. Fighting back is an acceptable and legitimate option. Whether victory is plausible is a different matter and one for the strategists. Similarly, how the war is fought is another question. It’s the statement that fighting the war is Obviously Wrong from, apparently, a moral point of view that bothers me.

    • Azradesh says:


      In this case they are wrong, just as in every single other case of the established entertainment industry whining and fighting against progress. They always says it’s going to be the end of all things, the always try and change the law to stop it, they alway lose and then they get dragged kicking and screaming into the present or they die.

      See home taping, mix tapes, radio, vinyl, the printing press, floppy discs and now this.

      And to be clear they are only being harmed because they are too stuborn, lazy or stupid to change. To worry that innovations and progress is going to hurt some people would have as stuck in the stone age.

      “Fighting back is an acceptable and legitimate option. Whether victory is plausible is a different matter and one for the strategists. Similarly, how the war is fought is another question. It’s the statement that fighting the war is Obviously Wrong from, apparently, a moral point of view that bothers me.”

      Fighting against your customer’s wishes is *NEVER* the right way to conduct a business. I don’t think anyone is saying that the very act of them fighting back is morally wrong, it’s just stupid. The *way* they are choosing to go about it is morally wrong however.

    • Ritashi says:

      This is some of the most moronic pro-piracy shit I have seen. If I don’t install a security system in my home and someone breaks in and steals my things, does that in any way absolve the person stealing my things? I, acting in my own best interest, should probably install a security system. But there is NOTHING wrong with not doing so – and if I don’t and someone steals my things, I and nearly every other rational human being will still blame the guy breaking in, not me. A more extreme example: if a girl dresses in a way specifically designed to get the attention of guys, and is quite flirty at a bar that may not have the best reputation, and then some guy rapes her on the way home – who do you blame? She should have been more careful, she shouldn’t have been walking around alone at night, all that is true – but her rapist is still clearly the one who is to blame. For her own sake she ought to be more careful, but if she is not that does make what she does wrong. Big corporations do not make people pirate any more than that girl made a guy rape her. Bad business models do not make people pirate. Listening to a song or playing a game, those are not rights that we have. Man is higher than animals because we are rational, because while we feel desires for various things we are able to decide not to pursue those desires. You want games and music – but you do not need them. Just because you want to have a huge amount of music and games does not mean that a company has to sell them to you at a price you can afford. And if they don’t it doesn’t make it ok to pirate them. The nature of society is such that we all give up (or have them taken away, idc which you prefer) certain freedoms with the understanding that others also give up those same freedoms. We give up being able to do and take whatever we want and are able to take, because if everyone does that then there is no justice, only the rule of the powerful. If everyone pirated games there would be no more games, or rather far fewer, and generally of lower quality. The laws of society exist to ensure that no one is able to take advantage of others merely through power or ruthlessness. Pirating is supported purely by people who actually pay for the game or music in question – without them and their moral scruples, you would have nothing to pirate.

      Also, all this whole “businesses need to adapt” thing sounds like nothing but “businesses need to give me everything I want for cheap, I’m only giving them any money if they give me stuff cheap otherwise I’m taking it because I want it even though I can’t afford what it costs.”

      If you pirate things, you’re an idiot or self-centered, and you are taking a part in undermining the structure which allows creative products to exist. If you know that and don’t care, fine – I’ll respect an informed choice, whether I like it or no.

  5. utharda says:

    Off hand, looking at the SOPA legislation it looks like their are two awesome safe harbours implemented. First, ISP’s and payment processors are safe if the immediately disconnect sites, and payment means upon receipt of a copyright complaint. Second, one is safe even if one mistakenly files a copyright complaint, and there is no good faith requirement. If this passes, I’ll be running a shell script to fire off continuous copyright complaints for every US politician, Pac, and 501(c)(*) organization I can find. They need to learn about unintended consequences.

    • Gramarye says:

      IANAL, but my understanding is that just like under the DMCA now, ISPs can and will ignore requests if they don’t believe an actual legal conflict will be generated because of this. Basically, they know the little fish can’t bite. Unless you’ve got a lot of money for legal battles, this (sadly) won’t work.

    • Epsz says:

      Gramarye, under DMCA (which is awful, but less bad than this) you are not legallyt allowed to send takedown notices if you don’t believe in good faith that the site is infringing. Under SOPA, nothing, stops me for sending a takedown against any page, and the ISP is then forced to take it down ASAP. It’s patently absurd on the face of it.
      (notice that both Warner and Universal have sent notices under DMCA that were automated and hardly in good faith, and at least Universal is apparently getting sued for this)
      IANAL and such.

    • Gramarye says:

      @Epsz: I understand that, but what I meant is that if they don’t think you can actually bring legal cannons to bear, the ISP will just ignore you. Even if the language technically allows for takedown notices from any private corporation, it’s optimistic to believe they’ll let anyone but the big kids play.

      On the other hand, maybe your notice could get a string of sympathetic employees in the ISP. That would make my day. :)

    • Unaco says:

      They abandoned PC Gaming, and churn out those “Chest High Walls of War” games these days, don’t they? Pffft… Like what they say means anything to us.

    • sneetch says:

      Beside the point Unaco (hopefully it was intended ironically) but hey it wouldn’t be RPS (or indeed the internet) if people didn’t try to shoe-horn their agenda in wherever they can.

      This is not about PC gaming. It’s not about gaming. Although it will impact on both.

    • frenz0rz says:

      I sometimes agree with what you say Unaco, and then you go ahead and ruin it by spouting drivel like that. Bulletstorm was a good fun game on PC, as was UT3, and their Unreal engine has powered some of the best games series of the last 5 years – namely Mass Effect and Arkham – as well as Borderlands. And lets not forget the upcoming Unreal engine games like Tribes Universe, Colonial Marines and Bioshock Infinite. Whichever way you look at it, Epic are still making a sizeable contribution to PC gaming.

    • Unaco says:

      If you heard a “Woosh” a little earlier, that was my joke passing by above you frenzor.

      I know what Epic have done (and have actually defended them, in these very comment threads, when people have said we should ignore them and their games, or curse them for GoW etc.). I was making light of the tendency of commenters here (and on the Internet in general) to, as Sneetch says, shoe-horn their opinions into comment threads, even though the opinion has no relevance on the topic being discussed.

    • frenz0rz says:

      Ah, my mistake, sorry about that. Perhaps you should have used a more sarcastic font?

  6. westyfield says:

    Forgive me for being dense, but why are these publishers in the ESA? How do they benefit from it?

    • Stuart Walton says:

      Lobbying the government is cheaper, focussed, and more effective if you do it through a single proxy than if all 33 publishers lobbied individually. That’s one reason.

    • X_kot says:

      ESA = E3 = big marketing

    • westyfield says:

      Oh ok, cheers. I’d never heard of these guys before so when I saw that the ESA was supporting SOPA I thought “not the European Space Agency! Nooooo!”.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      From what I can work out it’s a bit like a Union, but for corporations rather than individuals.

  7. Kollega says:

    At this point, i begin to think that we should just react to ANYTHING corporations or governments say with everyone ceasing to work and just standing out in the streets doing absolutely nothing as they lose billions of dollars, since that’s the only form of communication they understand. Well, that and violent uprisings, but violent uprisings are too costly to the people to be the only form of communication we use.

    • NathanH says:

      Unfortunately we will run out of food faster than they will.

    • dogsolitude_uk says:

      Problem is, we’ve got a sort of pyramid situation going on here where one bunch of guys will kick the ones ‘under them’ if they don’t tow the line.

      For example, if I didn’t turn up for work on Monday without a good reason, I’d get a b0ll0cking from my boss. If none of my dept turned up, my boss would get a b0ll0cking from the Head Of Dept, and so on, with the Head Of … being answerable to the Director, the Director answerable to the CEO, and the CEO answerable to the Grand Wizard of the local Illuminati chapter, or God or whoever. Probably shareholders actually, if profits drop.

      This layered, pyramid structure is pretty stable for that very reason. You’d need coordinated discontent throughout the various strata of society to make it work, and unfortunately the average Head of Whatever at well over £70-odd k per year, won’t have many grievances in common with those of a young person in data admin on £15k several levels below.

      Once everyone’s p1ssed off though, all bets are off… :)

  8. RaveTurned says:

    Great to see RPS taking this up. :)

    Is there anything us mere mortals can do? Presumably US readers can write to their congressmen. What about those in the UK and beyond?

    • Kollega says:

      Here is the site of the activists fighting against it. It says that if we aren’t in the US, we can petition the State Department. We should also spread the word, so that our American acquaitances (or American acquaitances of our acquaitances, or…) write to their congressmen.

    • zind says:

      You could always write to our congressmen as well, but as the vast majority don’t really care what their own constituents think on most matters, they would probably just scoff a bit.

      Really the best thing is exposure; if you’ve got a blog or a website or a youtube channel then put up some linkage to articles like this, or write your own stuff about it. There’s also always cash; if you’re loaded or have a charity budget, the EFF is a good target for that. Unfortunately (for us on this side of the pond, anyway), the best time for charitable giving was last month so that we could claim it on taxes.

    • Shooop says:

      Unless you can bribe (oh right they call it “lobbying”) some congressmen there’s nothing anyone can do. The only hope is that Facebook and Google have enough clout between each other to fight it.

    • Nalano says:

      If your congressman isn’t already against it, writing him or her will only return to you a form letter stating his or her stance on the issue. You seem to think that representatives are representative, and they are, but not to citizens.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I would encourage people to call or write a letter to their congressmen. Most could care less, but it shows a greater amount of effort and so the ones that do care are more likely to take it seriously.

      @Nalano It’s better that you write and try to participate than complain that you can’t make a difference.

    • Nalano says:

      I didn’t say there’s nothing one can do.

      I just said that writing your congressman is a pointless act.

      Look: All corporations and politicians are very, very defensive when it comes to their public image. You know what got GoDaddy to relinquish its support? Reddit’s Hate Machine. You know what hurt Santorum’s political prospects for well over a year? Dan Savage’s Google Bombing.

    • Arona Daal says:

      Simply vote the Pirate Party next time.

      Uh…. i forgot …. you Americans only have two Parties in your Democracy.

  9. cjlr says:

    I’d like to hear what Dave Tosser has to say about it.

  10. McDan says:

    This is ridiculous, I mean I know they’re American and most probably don’t see how this could affect the world outside their own country but they can’t all be short-sighted enough to see that it would still have negative effects for them as well. Argh this just makes me so annoyed at the world. It’s the goddamn internet, you can’t really do these things to it without there being terrible repercussions.

    • Vanderdecken says:

      Don’t forget, this is written by US Senate and House of Representatives politicians. Half of them have never used the internet and the rest think it’s a blue E. They have no concept of how it works culturally or the technology behind it. The ones who know what a website actually is think that YouTube legitimately *is* just videos of cats and nothing else.

    • McDan says:

      Yeah I really should have put that in my original post, my bad. It’s not the average americans fault by far, just the people who think doing this will give them more money to put on the piles of money they already have. It’s probably writen and supported by people that actually do use the internet in some form or another and just don’t know how it will affect them. Very much frustrated with this.

    • Nalano says:

      The ESA is just doing what the RIAA and MPAA attempted six years ago: Attempting to render an entire medium illegal so that they don’t have to change their business model.

      The irony in this case, however, is that none of the member companies of the ESA are hurting – they’re all posting record profits.

  11. saregos says:

    While I’ll grant that the list of those in favor of SOPA is scary…
    The list of those in opposition is orders of magnitude more impressive.
    A partial list can be found here

  12. NathanH says:

    So in principle, blocking access to websites is a reasonable manifestation of the “you play by our rules or nobody gets to see you” approach that authorities have to most media. In practice it seems that the chosen rules are very stupid and restrictive, though.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    The most terrifying thing about this is the complete absence of coverage from the mainstream media. It’s the sort of thing which everyone I know would oppose if only they knew about it.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Noone cares, it’s just the Internet. That place where terrorists meet and people call eachother horrible names over nerdy videogames. Would be better if noone spent their time there. Healthier for all businesses.

    • westyfield says:

      I don’t know if John edited that comment or if you really said that…

  14. Maldomel says:

    This is bad. I really hope this bill doesn’t pass. Once again, it seems like America (or rather some dudes with the same knowledge of the internet as my grandma) is trying to force the rest of the world into something it doesn’t want. I cannot do anything more than support this call to cease supporting SOPA.

    • Gramarye says:

      Without knowing your grandma, I’d say they know less, and are proud of it. Some of them have actually implied their complete ignorance on the matter makes them more qualified to speak on it and vote it in. It’s sickening.

    • PoulWrist says:

      Well having the modern version of luddites run the internet is just what the world needs. Not knowing tech is something to be proud of, and it’s a trend that’s all over the place, not just in high-ups. Technocracy is seen as inherently bad and you wouldn’t want it here.
      Even though the US had up till 1995 a IT-taskforce kind of group that would counsel on various things relating to this, it was shut down in 1995 just as the internet was taking off, because who would want a group of know-it-alls to advice on how this new technology should be taken forward.

    • Brun says:

      Yes, for some reason my fellow Americans seem insistent upon electing people they consider “average”, “relatable”, or “just like me,” rather than those most qualified for the job. And why shouldn’t they? From an early age we are fed confusing messages – telling us both that we should excel, and that it is wrong to do so. The media always champions the “average Joe”, and would have us believe that being highly successful means being greedy and underhanded. Small wonder, then, that so many morons (on both sides of the aisle) get elected.

      Not to mention the fact that politics in this country has become a kind of national sport. The media treats it like a sporting event. That’s why I find it so tiresome…

  15. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    So. Can one single takedown notice take down, say, Facebook, if this passes?

    Ouch. Contacting US relatives.

  16. Zanchito says:

    Here in Spain we got a similar law passed just this week. This law was promoted in a visit by Mr. Joe Biden a couple of years ago and has de backing of both main parties (you can’t tell ’em apart these days, really), and the EU parliament has expressed interest in implementing it on a EU-wide level.

    • rocketman71 says:

      SOPA is way WAY worse than the pitiful Ley Sinde. Yeah, it was dictated by Alan Solomon, US ambassador to Spain. Yeah, Solomon threatened both Zapatero (who amazingly didn’t approve it in the end) and Rajoy. Yes, is a useless law that already can be circunvented very easily.

      SOPA is MUCH worse. Just read it. Suspicion is enough to close websites and seize domains. Not that it’s really something we wouldn’t expect from a US president that campaigned on freedoms and rights, and just last week signed a new law approving the indefinite detention of any person (American or otherwise) suspected (again, suspicion is enough) of terrorism.

      I know Godwin is raised very easily these days, but the shit that’s constantly coming from the States since 9/11 would really make Hitler proud.

    • NathanH says:

      Indefinite detention with only suspicion? Wow, that’s pretty bad. Worringly I’m not particularly surprised. They tried to get 90 days detention in the UK a couple of years ago, and nobody seemed to care much. The only reason it failed was because the House of Lords is not so terrible after all.

    • Zanchito says:

      Rocketman: fairly spoken, although all of these laws go with the “past times” example too easily. :(

  17. Somerled says:

    What can we the readers do to help?

    Thank you John. Thank you RPS.

  18. FFabian says:

    Could someone explain why this SOPA stuff should bother us Europeans? Why not let them dig their own grave? This law is so ridiculous (even for US standards) that they’ll soon realize what they’ve done and reverse it. In the meantime the rest of the world will speed up the process of removing control of key internet infrastructure out of US hands and a few large corporations are going to move their business to Europe or Asia where they’re not affected. Bad for them – good for us.

    • Vanderdecken says:

      Wikipedia will be shut down. It’s hosted in the US and has no hope of monitoring all content to prevent falling foul of SOPA. Likewise Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr.

    • Jezebeau says:

      Unlikely that they’d be shut down. Major providers would simply move their hosting outside the US, cutting Americans off from their services and encouraging a repeal.

    • IAmUnaware says:

      This law is so ridiculous (even for US standards) that they’ll soon realize what they’ve done and reverse it.

      This is a wonderful thought, but unfortunately it’s not the way things work here. No law that our corporate masters think is in their best interest will ever be taken off the books under any circumstance.

    • Gramarye says:

      It may encourage movement of infrastructure out of the US, but that might include making every country have their own, walled-off Internet. After all, the US started it, and they’re setting the example!

      In addition, just imagine the economic impact of losing the Internet. I think it’s taken for granted just how much we depend on it now. It’s eviscerating an already struggling economy in favor of a set of actually rather small media entertainment companies.

    • FFabian says:

      Perhaps I’m a bit naive but why can’t those businesses just move their hosting (and corporate headquarters) to Europe?

    • Bhazor says:


      If it gets blocked it will just be rereleased with a new name six monthes later. I say let it pass and wait for it to bite them in the ass so hard they remove it.

    • NathanH says:

      I assume the plan will be something along the following lines:

      – they won’t shut down or block anything major like Wikipedia or Facebook, since that would be madness and counterproductive
      – thus, any stuff that moves away won’t be very major and won’t bring significant income to whatever country it moves to
      – most other countries can then be fairly cheaply and easily browbeaten or bribed into bringing in a similar sort of law

      That’s all a bit speculative, but it might work.

    • Gramarye says:

      Even if they can and do move, they’ve lost an entire continent’s market, for all intents and purposes, unless they want to keep two copies of their sites with different data and procedures on each. Which brings us back to the walled Internets….

    • Megadyptes says:

      People crying about how Facebook and Wikipedia will be taken down are having a laugh. I’m not for this bill myself, and agree that it sets a dangerous precedent but a lot of people are being overly paranoid about what this will affect.

  19. Jezebeau says:

    I don’t know how the US thinks their software and multimedia industries will survive the rest of the world rebuilding the internet in exclusion of them.

    • Archonsod says:

      Yup. As a non-US IT Engineer I’m looking forward to making a mint from the inevitable silicon valley migration if this goes through.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Eh, most companies are registered in Ireland and then some Carribean nation anyways. I doubt they would move to a First World country what with the governments wanting them to pay taxes.

  20. Suits says:

    They’re going to keep postponing until we stop paying attention it seems..

    • PoulWrist says:

      Or keep trying. That way the first time it gets rescinded. The second time probably too, because people get wind of it. The third time you think it’s gone the way of the Dodo, but no, here it comes, and noone pays attention and since noone pays attention it just gets passed. All kinds of other countries are doing it too and apparently the EU wants something similar. Here in Denmark we’ve had thepiratebay and a couple other things filtered out with DNS blocks after the here-sitting-version of the RIAA sued ISPs.
      There’s also a dutch logistics industry blocked here on the back-bone of our internet connection where the Police Intelligence Service has their blacklist because … of an error. And because up untill recently when that list was leaked to wikileaks, noone even knew it existed. The purpose of it is to stop use of child pornography sites, but turns out random sites seem to have been put on there by mistake or whatever… great stuff.

    • Archonsod says:

      There’s plenty of free DNS servers scattered around the internet which would get around any DNS level blocking. Mind you, here in the UK you’re usually better off using one of the plentiful free DNS servers scattered around the internet anyway, the service provided by our ISPs is atrocious.

  21. Calabi says:

    It will probably get passed, as basically the whole US government is corporations, they are one and the same.

  22. Shooop says:

    As if I needed any more reason to want all of congress to die in a fire. They’re still taking this seriously? Enough to start voting on it?

    Right now looks like we can kiss the internet good-bye because it’s got much more financial backing than opposition.

  23. Tei says:

    One thing some game companies may target, is “Lets play videos”. Since some people making these make money. And maybe sites like RPS, if can’t defend itself. RPS lives in a .com, so the root DNS server is under USA law.

  24. TheApologist says:

    I’m really glad RPS is taking this up and I hope developers listen and speak out too.

    I wasn’t aware how big a deal this was until now. Thanks for informing me!

  25. olemars says:

    The members of NetCoalition is considering going dark for 24 hours in protest of SOPA . The members of NetCoalition is pretty much all the internet: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, eBay and so on. It would be like an online general strike.

    link to technorati.com

    I hope they do it. It would show both the implications of SOPA and how addicted/dependent we’ve become on online services.

    • Brun says:

      Fingers crossed. I imagine there will be a lot of angry calls to Congressmen when the masses can’t watch their cat videos.

    • vecordae says:

      That would be brilliant. Nothing would catch the public’s interest quite as much as all of their favorite sites going down at the same time with big signs pointing towards this SOPA business. While the American populace is concerned primarily with their personal day-to-day affairs and pays little attention to politicking, they will surely cry out in unified outrage if they can’t twitter their facebook about internet cats.

  26. povu says:

    Ah, the Psychonauts Censors. I doubt it’ll be possible to psycho-punch SOPA in the face though….

  27. rocketman71 says:

    Of course ESA supports SOPA. They’re not any less of a MAFIAA just because they changed their name (the European Space Agency was really happy) or because some of our favourite developers are members (some of the worst publishers are members too).

    MAFIAAs are always wrong and detrimental. The ESA is just one more, as idiotic as the MPAA and the RIAA. I heard they’re getting close to the XIX century. When they start comprehending concepts from the XXI century, in 100 years or so, perhaps they’ll stop supporting fascist things like SOPA. But I doubt any of us will live to see it.

  28. Novack says:

    More than ever…

    GO bloddy Get’em Tigers!

  29. Shooop says:

    Nintendo, Electronic Arts and Sony Electronics dropped off the list of supporters. Probably just means “Oh no our customers will be angry if we support it publicly, we’d better do it quietly.”

    More promising however is Hollywood (they and the RIAA are the cunts who started this entire charade) unions aren’t buying it. Hard to make a movie if you don’t have any camera operators or stage grips.

    link to webpronews.com

  30. Walter Heisenberg says:

    I’m really sick of seeing this line thrown around:
    “don’t support it in its current form”
    SOPA in any form is awful as long as it involves censoring the net and it’s entire goal is censoring the net to achieve the goals of RIAA and MPAA so it’s completely fucked.
    I hate to say it but anyone that says “”don’t support it in its current form” should be treated just like GoDaddy was treated, we must give no quarter in this battle or we’ll be dealing with SOPA JR, SOPA 4, SOPA HD Remix for years to come.

  31. kud13 says:

    One of the major issues with SOPA that legitimately has a chance of stopping it (or, should it pass, immidiately getting it challenged for its constitutionality) is the fact that it literally reverses the presumption of innocence. essentially, content hosts will have a duty to examine all content being uploaded for infringements.

    in effect, SOPA proponents are saying :everyone that uploads on the internet is a filthy pirate. Untill we check what they uploaded and then we have proof that they are not”

    for this reason alone (and never mind the global implications of Internet censorship), no reasonable person would ever vote for SOPA.

    Canadian Music industry tried somehting similar in 2004–they tried to make ISPs pay them royalties for providing people access to the Internet and free music that can be downloaded from it.
    Canadian Supreme Court flat out said that we can’t assume that everyone who uploads is a pirate. content hosts are not responsible for what they host, unless there are clear indications that the content infringes copyright.

    my guess is, Canada’s gonna get a lot of US’ Internet business if this passes.

    • Brun says:

      Well that, and the fact that it seems to suspend the right of due process by allowing shutdowns before going to court.

  32. FunkyBadger3 says:

    In terms of journalism, inviting people to denounce things ranks just alongside “have you stopped beating your wife”.


    • Cockles says:

      That sounds like something you believe journalism to be that doesn’t match up with reality and also assumes that people are unable to make their own judgements based on freely available information.

      If the individuals behind RPS believe that SOPA is wrong and they feel passionately enough about it then they are certainly entitled to post their opinion, after all it is their website. For you to come and denounce them for it, especially without actually tackling the subject matter at hand, seems a bit cowardly. The alternative is that people see something “wrong” happening and say nothing, which is far, far worse than trying to bring attention to the subject. Where would you personally draw the line? If RPS found out the government was passing a law that prevented racial minorities from voting and condemned them for it, would you denounce them for doing so? An extreme example, I know, but it highlights the fact that you’re not really saying anything useful.

      If you believe that RPS’ handling of it is wrong then please explain why. It would be good to hear someone put together an argument as to why the common conception is wrong and actually this is a good thing to help reduce piracy and not infringe on peoples’ ability to speak freely (this is obviously not the reality although I’ve tried reading the act a few times but it’s late and I’ve had a few drinks and should be in bed).

    • Shooop says:

      Yes denouncing something which will effect them thanks to the internet being a global network ranks right alongside loaded questions.

      You’re a fucking idiot.

  33. Nameless1 says:

    Seeing RPS talk about that aberration just makes this site more awesome than It is already.
    Keep us informed, It means a lot to spread information about such things.

  34. Grape Flavor says:

    I hate to say this, but this article might have a bit more gravitas had it been written by someone else. In your opinion pieces John I have gotten the unsettling impression that you not only view piracy as generally harmless to the games industry, but furthermore find little objectionable about it even in principle. So the call to arms lacks the weight it would have carried had it been issued by someone who has conceded even in the abstract that piracy is wrong. Only Nixon could go to China and all that.

    For what it’s worth I oppose the SOPA, but I can feel the frustration on the part of those who make creative works. When PC games are pirated at a 20:1 ratio clearly something is profoundly wrong. Of course not every pirated copy is a “lost sale”, but at these incredible rates, if even a fifth of pirates would otherwise have bought the game it would quadruple game sales.

    There is a deep cultural problem, within PC gaming in particular, where if you even bring this issue up, people fall all over themselves with angry, half-baked rationalizations and justifications for not supporting game development. The general attitude of the “PC gaming community” towards those who make their pastime possible is, on the whole, terrible and if I were a developer I would be very tempted to dispense with the audience entirely.

    It is this very exasperation that has pushed content producers to support extreme legislation like SOPA. Since pirates are unwilling to change their behavior and DRM is ineffective they seek to use draconian legal methods. It may be extreme, but it’s hardly surprising.

  35. Bob says:

    Mmm, it’s kinda like carpet-bombing the backyard to get rid of a couple of weeds.

    Sic said: “It doesn’t just change how information flows, it changes the way we have to think about digitised information as a whole, and maybe even how our monetary system is structured.”
    That’s something I agree with. Technology goes ahead, seemingly at the speed of light, society is left in it’s wake trying to sort out the moral, economic, and financial implications.

    I don’t think SOPA is the correct way to go about it though.

  36. Grape Flavor says:

    What are these “new business models” content providers need to use? To deal with all this “change” and “progress” they have been so stubbornly resisting? To survive this “new future”?

    No seriously, tell me. Tell me the business model where content providers spend tens of millions of dollars creating ever-more elaborate and advanced entertainment for us, and everyone gets it for free.

    Tell me how this works. Oh, wait, you can’t. It doesn’t work. It’s a shitty cop-out crafted to excuse piracy by the intellectually lazy. Damn!

    Either someone will pay for the content, or there will only be content that can be created for free. And while some may say that’s fine, indie freeware is better, what have you, I think others will realize the ramifications of this.

    Right now the system works because enough people are honest and realize content providers need to make back their investment. Enough people are shouldering the load.

    But in this “utopia” where there is no copyright law and everyone downloads everything for free, the system is going to fall apart. And everyone will have to deal with the consequences.

    • SipNico says:

      Spotify, Netflix, iTunes… seriously, there are many examples of businesses succesfully adapting to the digital era. And ditching copyright laws has nothing to do with that.

  37. Was Neurotic says:

    Can’t we just invade America, crush it all to rubble, and annexe it to Croydon?

  38. Thermal Ions says:

    Somewhat disappointing that there’s still so few ESA members responded to RPS and/or willing to take a position given their defacto support through the ESA.