ESA withdraws support of SOPA after bill is tabled

By Jeff Mattas, Jan 20, 2012 4:15pm PST

Well, it seems as if the American government wants to ruin the Internet, they'll need to find another way to do it. As reported earlier, both the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA) have been postponed indefinitely. Seemingly after both bills were tabled, the Entertainment Software Association also withdrew its support for the controversial legislation.

SOPA's author, Texas Republican congressman Lamar Smith--who also serves as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee--stated today that the legislation will be tabled "until there is wider agreement on a solution."

"The Committee will continue work with both copyright owners and Internet companies to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America's intellectual property," Smith stated. "We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem. The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation."

This tabling of SOPA in the House of Representatives followed the Senate's decision to table a vote on PIPA, congressman Smith's response to which can be viewed online on the House Judiciary's website.

Once both bills had already been shelved, the ESA also withdrew its support and issued a formal statement. The withdrawal of support rings a bit hollow though. Gaming news site Kotaku notes, however, that as recently as early January, the ESA had issued a statement in support of SOPA and PIPA and the efforts to combat "rogue websites... devoted to profiting from their blatant illegal piracy," and had also spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $190,000 to lobby in favor of PIPA last summer.

After remaining relatively quiet about the matter for the past few weeks, the ESA now states:

From the beginning, ESA has been committed to the passage of balanced legislation to address the illegal theft of intellectual property found on foreign rogue sites. Although the need to address this pervasive threat to our industry's creative investment remains, concerns have been expressed about unintended consequences stemming from the current legislative proposals. Accordingly, we call upon Congress, the Obama Administration, and stakeholders to refocus their energies on producing a solution that effectively balances both creative and technology interests. As an industry of innovators and creators, we understand the importance of both technological innovation and content protection and are committed to working with all parties to encourage a balanced solution.

We're glad that the SOPA/PIPA maelstrom is over for now, but we also expect it's not the last attempt congress (and entities like the ESA) will make to thwart online piracy. Hopefully the next efforts won't be so misguided.

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