Gamasutra: The Art & Business of Making Gamesspacer
View All     RSS
September 22, 2014
arrowPress Releases
September 22, 2014
PR Newswire
View All





If you enjoy reading this site, you might also want to check out these UBM Tech sites:


Gamasutra takes anti-SOPA stance
Gamasutra takes anti-SOPA stance Exclusive
January 17, 2012 | By Kris Graft




Gamasutra staff will not be updating the website between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. PST on Wednesday, January 18, in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which despite some recent changes, still remains a very real threat to freedom on the internet.

We realize that we do provide a service that many people count on daily. But we strongly believe that ultimately, our readership, which includes many professionals in the video game industry, would be greatly damaged by SOPA.

With that in mind, it's important that as the leading industry-facing game news website, Gamasutra takes a clear stance on this issue. So we've made the tough decision to symbolically cease normal news operations, and an ad-free version of this article will take the place of the front page.

We will resume normal updates on Thursday morning. Comments on this article will remain active, and we encourage our visitors to discuss this measure.

The act is a clumsy attempt to eliminate copyright and trademark infringement stemming from foreign "rogue sites" that are deemed by the U.S. government or private corporations as havens for piracy. It would give the U.S. government and copyright holders the ability to seek court orders to block U.S. internet users from accessing sites accused of being "primarily dedicated" to copyright and trademark infringement.

Recently, the bill's author, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, made an attempt to clear up some vagaries of the bill's original language. For example, instead of targeting sites that supposedly "engage in, enable or facilitate" copyright and trademark infringement, the act now more specifically targets foreign sites that are "primarily dedicated" to copyright and trademark infringement. Last week, Rep. Smith also decided to drop the controversial Domain Name System (DNS) provision.

But those revisions are still not anywhere close to adequate. Even with those revisions, under SOPA, content rights-holders and the U.S. Attorney General have the ability to gain a court order to put supposed infringers on an internet blacklist, bypass due process, and target legitimate businesses with the threat of civil and criminal penalties. And even though "foreign sites" are now the direct target of SOPA, U.S. companies will bear a financial burden as a result of compliance and legal costs pertaining to this measure.

The bill is still all about internet censorship that's akin to the kind used in countries like Iran and China. For our non-U.S. readers who think this won't affect you, think of how much of the internet's power lies in the U.S., and the kind of precedent this could set for other governments.

SOPA is a particular threat to video game companies and their fans who partake in user-generated content, such as mods, videos and screenshots. In general, SOPA would place a chilling effect upon many ways that game companies interact with and foster their communities, and judging how the games industry has been taking its products online and worldwide for years, and positioning games as services, that's a bad thing.

So when your customers and fans are negatively affected, that also affects the business of game developers, killing fun, creativity and innovation, while hampering the industry's economic growth all at the same time. The measure is still overly broad and wouldn't actually stop piracy. It won't protect U.S. jobs, but rather put legitimate game industry businesses in the crosshairs.

Due to the vagueness of the act, experts have said that even in its current amended form, U.S. sites could become direct SOPA targets. Gamasutra currently has comments sections and blogs where users can upload content, and we're planning to expand community features. Depending on the kinds of material posted by our readers in these sections, will we be deemed a site that's "primarily dedicated" to trademark and copyright infringement? Shall we hastily delete anything that might bring down the mighty hammer of the U.S. government or some media conglomerate?

While the SOPA hearings originally slated for Wednesday have been delayed in light of Rep. Smith's revision to the act's DNS provision, Gamasutra and its staff are standing in solidarity with those in the game industry and other websites that oppose this measure.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that video games are protected speech under the First Amendment. Gamasutra supports no measure -- neither SOPA nor the similarly dangerous PIPA -- that will undoubtedly counteract any progress this industry has made towards the freedom to create and innovate within the art and business of video games.

Kris Graft
Editor-in-Chief
Gamasutra.com

[Use the Electronic Frontier Foundation's website to easily send a letter to your congressman. Click here [PDF] for the bill itself.]


Related Jobs

Infinity Ward / Activision
Infinity Ward / Activision — Woodland Hills, California, United States
[09.20.14]

Senior AI Engineer
Infinity Ward / Activision
Infinity Ward / Activision — Woodland Hills, California, United States
[09.20.14]

Lead Tools Engineer - Infinity Ward
Insomniac Games
Insomniac Games — Burbank , California, United States
[09.19.14]

Senior Engine Programmer
Fun Bits Interactive
Fun Bits Interactive — SEATTLE, Washington, United States
[09.19.14]

Senior Engine Programmer










Comments


E Zachary Knight
profile image
Thank You Gamasutra. This is one of the reasons why come back to this site every day.

Rey Samonte
profile image
ACK! Already feeling the Gamasutra withdrawal pains! LOL! :)

Adam Bishop
profile image
You say that you will not be updating the site, but that comments on this article will remain open. Will there be some kind of banner at the top of the page indicating Gamasutra's opposition to the bill, or something similar? I fear that just having a standard news story like this at the top of the page may not draw enough attention to the issue.

Chris Hendricks
profile image
I approve of your decision, but I question its effectiveness. I imagine most visitors to this site already know about SOPA and its ramifications. I doubt that you're going to get very many more people aware of it.



That being said, it's being done in solidarity with other major websites, and together, it will paint a pretty bleak picture of what the Internet could be like after SOPA kicks in, so it's probably worth it to some extent.

Frank Cifaldi
profile image
Chris, I can't speak for Kris and the rest of Team Gama but that's my personal feeling on it too. If we educate some people, that's amazing, but I think there's more power in adding to the numbers.



I'm damned proud to be associated with an organization that would take a stand like this.

Joe Lagomarsino
profile image
The movement is one of the top stories on NYTimes right now. Even if every single person that visits Gamasutra knows already it's going to generate press, visitors will mention it to other people. Not to mention, I'm sure there are SOPA supporters that visit this site considering the industry. I think Gamasutra is probably going to make one of the bigger impacts on the issue as a whole.

Chris Hendricks
profile image
Very good point, Joe. Our industry is one where there may still be many SOPA supporters. With so many anti-SOPA articles (and no pro-SOPA ones that I've noticed), I'd forgotten that.

Matthew Cooper
profile image
As long as you don't take an anti-soap stance – that could get disgusting.

Vicente Spencer
profile image
I see what you did there ;)

Vicente Spencer
profile image
Well done, I wouldn't expect it any other way.

Ali Afshari
profile image
Nice...this is another reason why I'm proud to be a member of Gamasutra!

Ian Bogost
profile image
I like that this article is an "exclusive."

Frank Cifaldi
profile image
Gamasutra is your exclusive home for announcements about Gamasutra's content schedule.

Neils Clark
profile image
<3

Axel Cholewa
profile image
Thanks, Gamasutra! Hopefully other player oriented gaming sites hop on board. 1up? Or even IGN? Would be great.

Darcy Nelson
profile image
IGN? Don't make me laugh.

Ali Afshari
profile image
1up is owned by IGN, which is owned by News Corporation...if SOPA and PIPA pan out like Rep. Smith intends, then it would be likely that we'd only get exclusives and such from News Corp.

Bruno Patatas
profile image
IGN views: http://uk.games.ign.com/articles/121/1216739p1.html



Haters gonna hate!

Bruno Patatas
profile image
@Jeferson The reply was not directed to you, but to Axel and Darcy. Gamasutra needs a better comments system.

But btw, that statement is from all the IGN offices. This is the original link http://games.ign.com/articles/121/1216739p1.html

Christopher Thigpen
profile image
You are doing the right thing, and I appreciate you taking a hard stance against this ridiculous farce. The internet is just a reflection of humanity. These people wish to stymie and distort reality to fit their own agendas and corporate greed. Someone is getting paid somewhere.



thanks again!

Ariel Gross
profile image
Gamasutra rules.

Alex Leighton
profile image
Good stuff, thanks for doing this.

Ethan Tonelli
profile image
Bravo, Gamasutra, bravo!

John Zucarelli
profile image
But wait ... did you not just publish an article claiming that President B-Rock 'killed' SOPA?

Matt Ponton
profile image
That's only if it reaches the President, and only if he's still in office (a nice hostage situation eh? Vote for him if you don't want SOPA?). Additionally, after his presidency you can bet that those pushing SOPA/PIPA will continue to do so, even if it's some new HR or Senate bill.



So just because Barack plans on vetoing SOPA, doesn't mean SOPA's dead...

Ali Afshari
profile image
I agree with Matt...we'll see SOPA again in some twisted form. Lawmakers love riders, and I'm sure they're just itching to add a seemingly innocent rider to some other future legislation hoping that it passes with the SOPA provisions intact.

Mike Ferguson
profile image
Thank you.



SOPA and PIPA are both poorly worded bills and horribly hamfisted attempts at censorship that do almost nothing to stem the tide of piracy but are aimed squarely are protecting large corporate content creators (and campaign donors) and either version will virtually ensure that the glory of a free internet is fundamentally lost.

Jakub Majewski
profile image
Before all this admiration goes to anyone's head, I'd like to point out three things...



1. Boycotts are effective when someone notices them. Gamasutra is an industry site. No one outside of the industry visits. Therefore, really - nobody out there cares. You could run a month-long boycott, and it would still make no difference. No one will even notice - except us, your daily visitors, who are already all against SOPA anyway.



2. I don't get all these "aww, I'm proud of you guys" voices. It costs Gamasutra nothing to do this (ok, ok, one day of ad revenue lost...). If the point of the boycott was so that the Gamasutra staff had the spare time to travel to Washington D.C. and protest - that would be entirely different. That would be awesome and praise-worthy. But this is just silly and pointless.



3. In the meantime, as near as I can figure out, SOPA is already dead in the water...

Jakub Majewski
profile image
I felt that "boycott" is more appropriate than "strike" here, because this is an organisational decision. The company as a whole has decided to suspend its services, which feels to me more like a boycott than a strike. The fact that they are refusing to sell rather than refusing to buy doesn't seem too relevant.



Whatever we call it, though, it's still completely pointless and unproductive in this case :).

A W
profile image
I don't think that its accurate to claim that "people outside of the industry" of game development don't visit this site. This site is not hidden behind special login privileges.

Christopher Aschenbrand
profile image
It seems that Gamasutra is now just taking an active stance more than a boycott/ strike. From what I can gather, they are simply voicing their own opinion which they had not formally done yet. (I could be wrong) As far as no one else visiting, I would bet the ESA has taken a quick look at the site which is incredibly relevant.

Jakub Majewski
profile image
A W - how often do you visit industry websites dealing with an industry that you aren't involved with? None of them are hidden behind special login priviledges, and yet...



Oh, well. All will be back to normal tomorrow.

warren blyth
profile image
Respectfully disagree, Jakub.



People who are outside of the movie industry may still be interested in how the movie business works. They may read the hollywood reporter or variety out of curiosity.



There is a good chance that many people who are interested in the games industry will come by Gamasutra today to see what's happening with the SOPA blackouts around the industry.



It will be a powerful message to find Gamasutra itself shut down in defiance.

Mike Ferguson
profile image
Well Jakub, it's always good to stand up against misguided policy that will end up harming people, which SOPA and PIPA are clearly capable of. Saying nothing changes nothing.



As our industry is full of big proponents of these bills, blacking out this site (and many others all across the internet) definitely has the potential to get some of those people's attention, especially if it gets Joe Constituent agitated enough to actually do something about it and call their reps in DC or protest in other ways that bring attention to this issue. Check out rock paper shotguns excellent coverage (once it comes back tomorrow) and you'll realize just how many companies in our industry either outright support this legislation or have given a sadly standard 'no comment' of mute compliance.



And SOPA/PIPA are definitely not dead, but their supporters are hoping more people start believing that. The supporters and legislators behind these bills are merely pulling back and making a few minor changes that they hope they can pass off later as 'improvements' once the people move on to some other distraction. They are still maintaining that the core essence of the legislation is sound policy, which is being able to pull down websites whenever an IP lawyer feels like some random clip or pic on a website is 'piracy'.



So yeah, an industry leader and representative like Gamasutra standing up and saying "NO!" is going to get my respect.

Paul Shirley
profile image
You miss the point. Influential parts of our industry support SOPA & PIPA, even though they're not shouting that too loudly right now. This mess got so far by not attracting public scrutiny till very recently, they hoped to sneak it through unopposed.



There are members of our industry that need to be shown they don't have the agreement or support of their peers and collaborators. That can only happen on industry sites.

William Barnes
profile image
@Jakub



Dead in the water for now, perhaps. Burt don't worry, when they feel nobody is paying attention, the BSA, RIAA, MPAA, and those of the ESA will be paying their usual lobbyist payments to get it back in there. Perhaps worded just slightly different, and more than likely attached to some other more immediately important bill so there's a "Gotcha" attached if you vote down the bill because of the piggy-backed SOPA/PIPA garbage legislation.

Tora Teig
profile image
Don't forget about PIPA though.



This is a fairly good summary if anyone is interested

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/01/how-pipa-and-sopa-violate-white-house-principles-su pporting-free-speech



Go go Gamasutra!

jin choung
profile image
surprising and awesome.



good for you gamasutra! i'm proud to be subscribed!



oh yeah, and tora above says - don't forget PIPA which is every bit as much (if not more) a threat to a free and open internet.



dangit, the internet needs a guardian every bit as powerful and rabid as the NRA is for their precious firearms...



we need a National Web Association. NWA.

Kim Simmons
profile image
IWA would be even better. INTERnational Web Association. -world- wide web. Remember? Not -america- wide web ;)



There's similar acts getting through in Europe, which is just as bad! Belgium has already censored several sites.

jin choung
profile image
yeah but NWA makes us sound tuff and badass! nobody fucks with NWA!

El Winchestro
profile image
i like

Bart Stewart
profile image
I disagree with this decision. As with the other "protests" its only real effect will be to annoy prospective customers.



It's your site, though, and I support your having the power to determine what to do with it.

Matthew Mouras
profile image
It can't raise awareness? Surely there are some visitors to this site that are not entirely familiar with the bill.

A W
profile image
It's usually the customers that annoy the business owners by not supporting their products. Now that companies are global, protest has to change.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
Will people be annoyed? Sure. But that is the point. To annoy people into action, whatever that action may be.

jin choung
profile image
disagree... the media, which has been avoiding the topics of sopa and pipa like the plague, finally caught on - in part because of the phenomenon created by this "protest" (inexplicable quotes preserved) movement.



also...



arab spring.

William Barnes
profile image
@ jin choung



The Media, as we can see everyday will keep hush what it wants to, especially if, like in the case of the owner of News Corp, the agenda is to make it nearly impossible to be indie unless you pass through their toll booths with a nice chunk of change first.



The only reason why they have mentioned it now is because the protests and opposition is too loud already to ignore. Notice that Murdoch controls anything News Corp does and says, as I'm sure boards and other owners of other media cartels (conglomerates doesn't sum up their true controlling powers) do just as much. (It's very hard to find something that fits the "objective" category of reporting instead of "subjective.") As long as money talks and people value their jobs over their convictions (a very tough dilemma in this economy)



The media gains too much not to keep hush, or when they no longer can, try to spin the protests off as piracy lovers.

Eric Geer
profile image
You guys should have censored out all of the screenshots--could make more of an impact when first entering the page.

William Barnes
profile image
I guess it's too late, but yes. I agree that could have added to the emphasis.

Taure Anthony
profile image
Lets do this.

Harry Fields
profile image
I can't wait for this thing to fail so everyone can take off their tin-foil hats and move on to the next "protest-du-jour".

Adam Bishop
profile image
You're right, the government would never seize a web site, deny its owner any sort of due process for over a year, and then give the web site back admitting that it shouldn't have been seized at all. And it definitely wouldn't do this primarily at the direction of a major entertainment industry lobbying group. Only tinfoil hat types would believe in something that crazy.



http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111208/08225217010/breaking-ne
ws-feds-falsely-censor-popular-blog-over-year-deny-all-due-proces
s-hide-all-details.shtml

Ali Afshari
profile image
I still find relevance in this quote from Catch 22: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.

Harry Fields
profile image
So how would you fight piracy? Do you even think it's a problem?

E Zachary Knight
profile image
Harry,



The best way to fight piracy is to fix the service problems that cause it. If people are downloading your game to get around DRM, then get rid of the DRM. If people are downloading your game because it is not localized or available in their region, localize it and release it in their region. If people are downloading your game because it costs to much, reduce the price. If people are downloading your game because it is not available digitally, release it digitally.



Above all, you should be human and treat your customers and fans with fairness and as friends. People respond positively to that kind of treatment.

Paul Shirley
profile image
"So how would you fight piracy? Do you even think it's a problem?"



Even if you believe this legislation is a perfect attack on piracy, the collateral damage is totally unacceptable. If you insist legislation is required it has to be tightly focussed and not an invitation to abuse. Because being human should have taught you, where abuse is possible it's also inevitable - applies equally to piracy and this ludicrous excuse for a law.



Meanwhile, I'll carry on running pirate builds of many of my purchased games *because they deliver a better product*.

Adam Bishop
profile image
@Harry



I'm not convinced that currently existing laws are inadequate to fight piracy. And if they do need to be improved, then they need to be improved in a way that respects the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair and open trial. And they also need to be constructed in a way that keeps lobbying groups out of the enforcement process.

jin choung
profile image
http://lib.byu.edu/departs/copyright/tutorial/module1/page3.htm



also, just look up "purpose of copyright" for additional voices on the topic.



RIAA bitches about piracy - production of music is NOT BECOMING LESS.



MPAA bitches about piracy - production of movies in NOT BECOMING LESS.



ESA and BSA bitch about piracy - production of software is NOT BECOMING LESS.



AND



there's VERY good reason to believe that all this copyright/patent crap is in fact stifling innovation IN AND OF ITSELF and you need look no further than all the celphone and tech companies holding arsenals of patents and paying legions of lawyers to continuously sue each other in an oroboros of litigation. does that really HELP INNOVATION?



jeez, imagine where technology and society would be if we were such damn patent whores from first principles... if THE WHEEL was patented... or FIRE was patented... or LANGUAGE was patented...



would we as a civilization be more ahead or less than where we are now if such an IP BOGARTING regime existed from day one?



--------------------------



people ARE making money creating content. NOW. in this day and age. it's possible. and if you need proof, any company or individual that moans about it should just STFU and GET OUT OF THE WAY... because standing right behind them is a LEGION of people waiting to get to bat who know they can make it work.



ultimately - THAT is the answer.



make money because you can. if you can't, STFU and GET OUT. you will not be missed. you and your innovations will be replaced INSTANTLY by a 19 year old who can do it better, faster, cheaper and STILL MAKE MONEY.

Kenneth Blaney
profile image
Since we are here.



http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/stand-together-the-gaming-co
mmunity-vs-sopa-and-pipa



I know there are lots of game journalists who are covering E3 because it is a hugely important part of game advertising. The request here is simply "Don't". Vote with your feet as it were.

Kenneth Blaney
profile image
Very interesting premise, Joe. I hope that those outlets than do end up covering E3 bring up SOPA. Of course, by then SOPA will have either passed or not considering E3 is still so far off.

KyungKun Ko
profile image
Cheers~

Christopher Totten
profile image
I'm definitely going to be in Gamasutra withdrawl but power to you!

Logan Foster
profile image
I am not an American but I have to give two thumbs up to Gamasutra and other sites that have done a "blackout" today to protest SOPA and PIPA as this sends a message not just to politicians in the US, but across the entire world, that we need to put in place sane and well thought out laws that make sense for the society of today and tomorrow.

Jason Ravencroft
profile image
Is it really a blackout? You and I both posted on a fully functional Gamasutra.

Jason Ravencroft
profile image
I don't really see this as a sacrifice of any measure.



A hard stance would be to deny advertisements of any sort from any organization supporting SOPA. Taking a day off from updating a site relatively few people on the Internet visit is a non-sacrifice on the part of Gamasutra.

Samuel Batista
profile image
Good... but I sadness...

Brandon Maynes
profile image
Why cant the gov just keep its hands out of ONE freaking thing. Next thing you know, they will be telling us what size our toilets will have to be, and what we can and cant consume in our own bodi.. . . ohh wait. . . . reality hits you hard bro.

Ramon Carroll
profile image
Here we go. -crosses his fingers-

Florian Garcia
profile image
In solidarity.

kevin Koos
profile image
Get back to work Hippies!

Heloisa Yoshioka
profile image
You should refuse to cover E3. Maybe ESA starts to think about what they are doing. http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/stand-together-the-gaming-co
mmunity-vs-sopa-and-pipa

thay thay
profile image
Occupy E3! ;-)

Bernardo Del Castillo
profile image
Sweet, I never liked showering anyway.

Matt Ponton
profile image
Everyone posting here with an uploaded avatar picture that wasn't taken, uploaded, or digitized by themselves could make Gamasutra be taken offline in a heartbeat if SOPA or PIPA were to pass.



;)

William Barnes
profile image
Ha!



If you just happen to be at the same place a photo was taken, in the exact, or near exact same conditions, camera angle, etc. someone is going to cry "stolen" and it will be hard to prove that you didn't, even if you never knew the existence of the other photo.

Matt Small
profile image
As a software developer, I have mixed feelings about SOPA, and I'm a little annoyed by all the knee-jerk opposition to it.



Granted, it's a poorly written bill. I don't want to see it passed in its current form. But it does try to address a real problem, and the thing that bugs me is that opposition to the bill -- such as Kris' article above -- never proposes any kind of alternative solution.



As with the whole ratings issue, ultimately the solution should come from the private sector. But the private sector has been achingly silent on the issue.



Here's an example of the kind of thing I'd like to see: Youtube self-regulates copyright infringement through content search and advertising revenue. It also provides copyright holders a means to flag infringing content for review. Yet if you do a simple Google search for one of my games, you get any number of hits on the first page or two that take you directly to pirate sites where users can (for Android apps) just click a link and download the game for free. I suspect many users who do so don't even know they're pirating the game. And yet Google provides no means for me to flag a link for review. I can, however, flag content as "inappropriate" -- why is that? Boobs bad but pirated software OK?



Maybe it isn't a perfect solution, but it's an example of the kind of thing I'd like to see companies like Google talking about, instead of just putting a stupid black bar over their logo.



So to all o' youse who are applauding the blackout today: Why not take advantage of the browsing downtime and spend a little brain power thinking up real solutions? If you want a vibrant independent game developer community, you need to be concerned not only about free speech, but also about the ability of said independent developers to turn a profit.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
If you think that the opposition does not propose an alternate solution, it is because you haven't looked.



If you would like a bit of a primer on the issue, you can start here:



http://www.techdirt.com/blog/casestudies/



These are stories of a number of businesses and artists that are succeeding despite piracy. They have looked piracy in the eyes and said "You have no power over me." And they have succeeded.



To be more specific:



http://blog.bandcamp.com/2012/01/03/cheaper-than-free/



Bandcamp has taken to using the search terms of those looking for free stuff and have turned those people into paying customers. They do so by being honest, open and human. They do so by treating customers as friends rather than enemies.



A little more close to home we have Valve that has turned the pirate haven of Russia into its highest grossing European country.



http://www.geekwire.com/2011/experiments-video-game-economics-val
ves-gabe-newell



The issue of piracy is almost always a service issue. When people who want your product can't get it when and how they want it, they will often resort to alternative means to get it. The goal is to use what you learn about people who pirate your games to better serve them and turn them into paying customers.



You cannot do this if you attack them. That is why DRM fails. That is why region restrictions fail. That is why laws like SOPA/PIPA fail. People don't like to be treated as criminals. They want to be treated as a friend.



As for why SOPA is bad for independent game developers, Yesterday Gamasutra had a good article about why SOPA would be bad for them. To be more specific, many independent game developers get their start by making clones of existing games or by parodying or satirizing them. Under SOPA, any website that hosts distributes or links to those games would be targeted. This means less exposure for those independent game developers. Additionally, more games today are allowing for user generated content. If that content ends up infringing on someone's copyright or trademark, the game and its servers could be targeted. There are also problems with patents and copyright in software. Patent and copyright violations would be targets of SOPA as well. All this adds a tremendous burden on developers that do not have the means to fight the accusations even if they are innocent let alone guilty.



Such a law would have even more damaging capabilities as well. Most indie games are discovered through the use of Social media. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Imgur, Flicker etc, all these sites will be hit with massive compliancy costs and further liability burdens. If SOPA had been in effect 5 years ago, none of these sites would be in existence today. If that were the case, there would be no Minecraft or Mojang Studios. We wouldn't have Bastion or The Binding of Isaac or Super Meat Boy. Why? Because all these games relied on those social media sites to spread the word. Why would we want to harm that ability for future game developers?



That is the problem with SOPA. Those are the solutions.

Kenneth Blaney
profile image
The current legal option you have available to you is to directly sue the infringing person. Then, there is a legal process by which you can reclaim damages. If it is too expensive to hire a lawyer and recover your damages, ask yourself if worrying about the damages is even worth your time.



That said, there is also the idea of knowing that your apps will be pirated and using that in part of your monetization plans by selling ads through a number of services (incidentally, those services are at risk with SOPA). Certainly one possible idea is to go the same route as flashgamelicence.com and sell a link to a website in the opening screen. Then, even if the app is pirated you still get the ad revenue from the advertiser and the advertiser still gets the placement.



Finally, bringing this back around to SOPA and your situation: You probably wouldn't have the legal resources to actually pursue action against websites once you actually found them. Even if you did, would it be worth your time and expense? It is the same reason why you aren't buying much advertisement for your applications, the conversion rate is too small for such an inexpensive item to hope to make its money back (maybe start up cost too). So, unfortunately, SOPA does nothing for small start up developers like you (and me).

Matt Small
profile image
@E Zachary Thanks for the suggestions. I have to differ with you a little regarding the question of access and piracy being a "service issue". To take my example again, our games are sold as apps, and everyone who has an iPhone has the App Store. And *almost* everyone who has a Android device has access to either the Android Market or the Amazon App Store. So in our particular case, I think the optimal purchasing experience is already available -- it's actually more work to jailbreak your phone and then go out looking for apps to download.



Then again I take your point that there are people who don't have credit cards, or for some reason are willing to pay for product but unwilling to do it through an official App Store. I like the Bandcamp model, and I've always been a fan of "pay what you want" campaigns like Radiohead did with In Rainbows. So maybe we'll try something like that and see how it goes.



For the record, I don't lose a lot of sleep over this issue. My feeling is that people who want to pay will pay, and people who don't won't. I don't believe every pirated game is a lost sale -- many of them, most of them probably would not have paid for the game anyway. And probably some of them convert to paying customers, after they've played and enjoyed the game for free.



As I said above, I am not in favor of the government stepping in and trying to control the issue, especially with something as poorly conceived as SOPA. What I am in favor of is mainstream, primary access point service providers like Google doing a little something more than nothing.

Terry Matthes
profile image
Thanks for caring Gamasutra :)

T S Warnke
profile image
Good Stuff, Gamasutra! Be strong!

William Holt
profile image
I'm not trying to cause a fight, appear ignorant or even to troll for a response, and I understand what giving the ability to pull or deny content access to people who don't understand what it is precisely they're pulling, or whose ignorance of due process could cause more harm than good, but how is it that self regulation (as is almost universally practised) is acceptable, but government regulation (where standards for restricted or inappropriate content would be public, publicised and standardized) is not okay?



How are the current deregulated actions taken independently by sites such as google, youtube, (insert well known forum here) or even our own gamasutra different and better than what SOPA and PIPA put forth?



Edit: To clarify, I suppose what I'm saying is I get a bad feeling about SOPA and PIPA, but I'm not sure why, I'm not sure whether to ignore it, and I'm not sure of the cause of the bad feeling; if it's a kneejerk reaction to the US government taking international trade into its own hands, I'm definitely willing to dismiss my hesitation, but if there's legitimately no effective difference between the current and proposed situations, why pay attention to the bad feeling at all? Am I making any sense? I just need a bit of clarification on the difference between the current and proposed situations.

[User Banned]
profile image
This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
"How are the current deregulated actions taken independently by sites such as google, youtube, (insert well known forum here) or even our own gamasutra different and better than what SOPA and PIPA put forth?"



There is a huge difference between the actions of a business (eg Google, Facebook, Gamasutra) and the actions of the government. Primarily, the Government is bound by the Constitution and its protections of the Free Speech rights of its citizens. When the government regulates speech in any way, that violates that right.



Under SOPA, the government would have the ability to block an entire website worth of speech over only a few infringing links. This is a huge violation.



Now if Google refused to show your website in its search results (which it has done numerous times in the past) it has not violated your rights because 1) your site is still available. 2) there are alternative ways for people to find your website.



Next we have the problem of how SOPA came into being. SOPA is an example of what those in political circles call "regulatory capture" or "crony capitalism". What these mean is that certain special interests lobby the government for laws that protect those businesses from competition. In this case, the legacy movie and music industries are trying to get laws passed that will protect their business models from having to adapt and compete in a fair and open internet. Under SOPA sites like Youtube, Flicker, Bandcamp, Soundcloud etc will be burdened with increased compliancy costs and liability issues. The restrictions placed on sites under SOPA are enough to kill most small sites and enough to embroil larger sites in enough burden that they become useless for what they should be for.



To get a better understanding of what life will be like under SOPA, we only need to look at recent history and abuse under current law.



For example we have a popular hip hop blog that had its domain seized by ICE and was denied due process for a full year before being quietly given its domain back:



http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111208/08225217010/breaking-ne
ws-feds-falsely-censor-popular-blog-over-year-deny-all-due-proces
s-hide-all-details.shtml



We also have a video site, much like YouTube that was sued for infringement, was found not guilty by the courts but still went out of business because legal costs were far too great:



http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111220/11021717143/veoh-still-
perfectly-legal-also-still-dead-due-to-bogus-copyright-lawsuit.sh
tml



The point is that the abuse possible under SOPA is bad that no law like it should exist. We have anti-trust laws to deal with businesses that abuse power, but when those powers are given to those businesses by the government, there is little recourse. SOPA itself was designed to protect the accuser at the expense of the accusee. That is bad. That is why SOPA should be stopped.

Christian Nutt
profile image
Also, there's already the DMCA, which has provisions for copyright holders to have copyrighted content removed from websites. The problem is that if the sites are in foreign jurisdictions or have huge numbers of infringing works -- both of which are likely -- this becomes problematic to enforce. I'm assuming that's how the "block an IP" solution came up. But it's not a great workaround for incredibly obvious reasons.

William Holt
profile image
Thank you, Zachary and Christian. My understanding of the situation is much more clear now, thanks to your kind replies.

William Barnes
profile image
The bad feelings I have about SOPA and PIPA have nothing to do with regulation by a government, which should still be monitored by those they govern and not hidden behind closed doors, as some would rather have it. It has more to do with control. These bills place too much, and too easily abused power and control in the hands of copyright holders.



From what I understand, they need offer no evidence of said piracy at the time they force a website down and force advertiser revenues shut off. This could easily be abused by a large company to permanently squeeze an independent developer out of business while they take their time truly investigating the claims. And insult to injury, to repercussions for crying wolf when there was no wolf, other than perhaps one less company that didn't want to play ball by the large company's stacked rules.



Don't let the honeyed words of the media fool you into believing it isn't about more than piracy and your failure to support their self-serving legislation is just you saying that you are for piracy at any cost.

Wylie Garvin
profile image
Bravo



http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/stand-together-the-gaming-co
mmunity-vs-sopa-and-pipa

Jonathan Escobedo
profile image
Thank you Gamasutra.

Alvaro Cavalcanti
profile image
Bravo!

Kenneth Blaney
profile image
Let us suppose, for a second, that SOPA passes. I wonder what the effect would be on small time indie studios. Small studios don't have the resources to effectively shut down a website as SOPA would allow. So, although they legally can, they financially cannot. Everyone knows this so it basically becomes open season on the little guy's IP with plenty of the big game hunters moving to smaller fare. This would be true not only for pirates, but for news outlets and entertainers also. Would we then see an uptick in sites talking about games from smaller companies by default? Or would the uptick in poaching on small studios cancel out all of the added benefits?

William Barnes
profile image
I think we'd see smaller studios die in its wake. either as victims of those who they cannot fight to stop any piracy against, or at the hands of more wealthy publishers with whom they didn't want to deal with squishing them with false claims of piracy or IP infringements.

Rob Wright
profile image
Excellent summary of the case against SOPA and the specific dangers in relation to the video game industry. While I've always though that piracy hurts the gaming industry more than music or film/TV (triple A games are expensive to develop and don't have the same kind of revenue streaams/after-market that film/TV does), this legislation is too broad, too vague and supported by too many lawmakers who wouldn't know how to download/install a game unless it was explained via coloring books.

Leo Gura
profile image
Thanks for having some balls, Gamasutra!

Scott Foulk
profile image
Excellent Gama! Thanks for being 'not' GoDaddy.com!

James LeGeros
profile image
http://support.godaddy.com/godaddy/go-daddy-many-other-internet-l
eaders-oppose-sopa-pipa/?ci=56582



Go Daddy has changed their stance. They are now openly against SOPA and PIPA.

Boto Gatas
profile image
We watch the watchmen.

Gil Salvado
profile image
Just wanted to link a colleague of mine the news of the White House against SOPA, but ... well, that does it as well.



Bravo!

dwayne hammond
profile image
... But given that SOPA is news... and probably the main "video game industry news" at the moment... isn't Gamesutra really still delivering the news in much the same they always do?

Isn't this just saying that, "SOPA is MORE important than the other stories we usually cover so we are going to make the site all about this today?"

Wouldn't a complete block on the website, with a stamp saying "Shut down by SOPA", where we couldn't read details about the story and carry on a conversation about it, be more in line with what is being attempted here?

Tom Baird
profile image
Well, the entire goal is to get people to know and understand SOPA. Having a complete block, with a stamp saying "Blocked by SOPA" may be more true to the Blackout concept, it's MUCH worse at accomplishing the overall goal of getting people informed and involved, which is why there is a blackout in the first place.



I'm happy it leans more towards the goal of informing people than the goal of not being operable. Plus Gamasutra is about many articles, blogs, jobs, etc... and not just one single article, so it is still blocking the content itself.

Sean Currie
profile image
Thank you! I think I shall renew my subscription to Game Developer.

Jacek Wesolowski
profile image
Since this is an online equivalent of going on a demonstration, let me just say I'm with you.



I don't even live anywhere near the U.S., and I still feel this legislation could affect me. It's not only harmful to the Internet and free speech in general, but also a usurpation of authority that does not belong to the U.S. government (or any specific government, for that matter). I'm glad to see Gamasutra is being active about this issue.

Matt Ponton
profile image
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/18/idUS309090140520120118



"Two more co-sponsors of anti-piracy legislation in Congress backed away from legislation on Wednesday, as protests ramped up both online and in the streets.



Senators Marco Rubio (R-. Fla), Jon Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Roy Blunt (R-Miss.) backed away from the Senate bill, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) on Wednesday. "

Mike Kasprzak
profile image
This page isn't long enough.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
I completely agree. You would think with this being the only article available there would be a lot more comments.

Steven Ulakovich
profile image
The media is to report on the news, not become the news.

Gregg Tavares
profile image
I find it extremely sad that the GAME INDUSTRY in the form of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) that literally represents nearly every major game publishers is pro-SOPA! Shame on them. We expect the RIAA and MPAA to not getting it. But the video game industry is a tech based industry.



Where's the boycott of all those game companies! Capcom, Epic, Eidos, Disney, Konami, Microsoft, Namco, NVidia, Sega, Sony, Square Enix, Take-Two, Tecmo, THQ, Ubisoft, Warner. They are all SOPA/PIPA supporters.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
Here is the best list of game companies and their stance on SOPA/PIPA:



http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/esa-members-and-sopa-where-they-s
tand/



So let's start there. Some that you listed as supporting do not actually support SOPA/PIPA.

E Zachary Knight
profile image
Joe,



I completely agree. I think that any person or business that supports an organization that doesn't have its best interests in mind is a bad thing. We could do well with a lot of businesses leaving the ESA over this issue.

William Barnes
profile image
Is it a case of saying to the public that you are against something, while behind the scenes you are still really for it, but you are COA with PR as to not lose customer base? Wouldn't be the first time an organization has done something like that, and wouldn't be the last.

Marc Merrill
profile image
Well done Gama!

Kris Graft
profile image
I just wanted to pop my head in and say thanks for the overwhelming support this, and for bearing with us as we ceased updates for several hours. Obviously, there's still a long road ahead in regard to these bills, and Gamasutra will be following the subject closely.



Meanwhile... back to video games, right? They're what we're fighting for, after all.

William Barnes
profile image
Due vigilance is needed to keep them from resurfacing. Of course that doesn't mean they won't try to be even quieter about it next time around.


none
 
Comment: