The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill is currently being deliberated in Congress. The goal of the bill is supposedly to stop copyright infringement, but the language is so incredibly broad and vague that it could do a whole lot more, most of it being very bad news. What would likely result if SOPA is enacted is a giant government firewall or a crippled DNS system that would block websites. Additionally, it would give the US jurisdiction over foreign sites, which are accused of infringing on a US copyright. None of this is positive, but it seems that many game publishers are on board with SOPA.
Image via AmericanCensorship.org
Recently a document (PDF) was uncovered by a Reddit user, which was hosted by the Global Intellectual IP Center. The letter was written in September of 2011, before the introduction of SOPA, but it urged the government to enact a bill very similar to what is being discussed in Congress right now.
The letter is signed by dozens of corporations, which coincidentally enough include major game publishers. One of the most notable on the list is Nintendo, who has been very vocal about their feelings about piracy in the past and has gone so far as to file lawsuits against people and businesses selling illegal copies of their games. Nintendo has also won lawsuits in France against devices that allow unsigned code to be run on the Nintendo DS.
Sony’s separate divisions actually signed the letter separately, with representation from Sony Electronics, Sony Music, and Sony Pictures. EA jumped in and signed the letter as well. There are some notable companies that didn’t jump in on this letter urging Congress to do something about piracy. Microsoft and Activision are notably missing, although TheNextWeb makes the case that Microsoft is guilty of supporting this monstrosity through their membership in the Business Software Alliance.
Seeing Nintendo and Sony directly supporting this bill isn’t particularly surprising. Nintendo definitely has a history of fighting against piracy and Sony has recently taken steps to limit the number of consoles PSN purchases can be accessed from to prevent game sharing. Sony has also aggressively fought against hacking & modding of their PS3 console to try to prevent unsigned code from running on the device. That is a fight they seem to be losing considering the recently announced True Blue PS3 hack.
The SOPA bill is so vaguely written that it should alarm all US citizens. If you can spare the time, it’s worthwhile to contact your Congressional representatives to let them know how you feel about the bill. A friend of mine who has volunteered for representatives in the past tells me that the most impactful way to contact a Congressman is through postal mail or over the phone. Apparently emails aren’t given much attention by the Congressmen.
How do you feel about this SOPA bill? Did you contact your representative to make sure your opinion is heard? Let us know what you think in the comments.