Previously major game publishers showed support for the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a nasty bill that would give companies the right to force websites to shut down for containing copyrighted material. Three of the largest supporters in the video game industry were Nintendo, Sony, and Electronic Arts. All three of those companies have pulled support of the bill, or at least they’ve pulled half their support of the bill.
The latest list of official SOPA supporters does not contain Sony, Nintendo, or Electronic Arts. Considering what happened to GoDaddy in the last few weeks it’s not particularly surprising that all three companies chose to pull their names off the list. It is worth noting that while Sony’s game division is no longer listed, they still have three music division listed in support of the bill.
What’s even more interesting is that all three of these companies are members of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The ESA is still listed as being in support of which means that Nintendo, Sony, and Electronic Arts are still in support of the bill by membership in the ESA.
In terms of PR it looks great for Nintendo, Sony, and EA because their names no longer appear on that supporter list. At the same time this is all a bit sneaky because the three are influential members of the ESA and that organization still stands in support of this ridiculous bill.
The fact that the ESA is willing to support this bill is also more than a bit baffling. This is an organization that fought hard in support of the First Amendment rights for video games in the Brown vs. EMA/ESA case. That case ended up favoring the first amendment rights of video games. The SOPA bill arguably spits in the face of free speech for the whole of the Internet and yet the ESA wants to support it?
Time will tell if Sony, Nintendo and EA dropping support of SOPA is enough to pressure the ESA to remove their name from the supporter list as well. One can only hope that the organization will come to their senses and make a statement before the official vote on SOPA happens.
Update: As our friend Jared Newman at Time’s Techland blog points out, Game Publishers didn’t actually drop SOPA support, because they never actually endorsed it directly. They do, however, support it by association due to their membership in the ESA, which we pointed out above.