Electronic Arts stated in a leaked email to reddit
that it will not oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), or distance itself from the Entertainment Software Association [ESA], a pro-SOPA industry lobbying group of which EA is a member.
“We believe in the organization and agree with them on most issues,” wrote Jeff Brown, senior vice president of communications and public affairs at Electronic Arts.
Escapist Magazine reported Monday that the ESA spent up to $90,000 lobbying the US government on behalf of the Protect IP Act [PIPA] over a six month period in 2011. Both PIPA and SOPA have faced heavy criticism from concerned internet users who claim the legislation could be used to quell free speech and innovation.
The leaked email talked about an online petition on Change.org
started by a gamer which urges EA to oppose SOPA and distance itself from the ESA. As of Tuesday, 130,000 people had joined the campaign, and more than 100 other campaigns opposing SOPA and PIPA had been created on Change.org
“Change.org users have launched an avalanche of anti-censorship petition campaigns, several of which have more than 100,000 signatures,” said Charlotte Hill, communications manager at Change.org
. “This email from Electronic Arts proves the folks upstairs are hearing the petition signers loud and clear.”
Representative Jared Polis of Colorado offered his thoughts on the need to oppose SOPA on the grassroots level:
“As a video game fan and someone who made his living as an Internet entrepreneur before being elected to Congress, I'm greatly concerned about the future of the Internet and gaming if Congress doesn't wake up,” Rep. Polis said. “It's critical that fellow gamers speak out against the Stop Online Piracy Act and encourage the makers of their favorite games to join them in opposing this misguided legislation. Gamers are starting to protect the games they love and the innovation that drives the gaming industry. I hope that all major video game companies will join Riot Games and other companies in publicly opposing this legislation.”
What's more interesting is that at least five members of the ESA have publicly opposed SOPA and PIPA, and 7,000 websites including Wikipedia plan to go black today to protest both pieces of legislation.
Online piracy is certainly a legitimate issue that anyone who sells digital material should be considering. However, it seems very obvious that the SOPA would afford enforcers of online piracy a level of control that is totally unnecessary. Aside from that, it enables those enforcing organizations a level of control and power that is downright unfair and unconstitutional to those of us who believe in a freedom of speech. Hopefully, the SOPA will fall apart after too long, and certainly before it gets passed.