It is well-known that a bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) could ultimately lead to online censorship as dictated by government protocol. Erik Martin, general manager of Reddit, put it best, explaining that, “SOPA would kill Reddit” and other community-driven forums of its nature. Not everyone agrees with Martin and several companies chose to stand behind the anti-piracy act, only to face an immediate revolt among online communities. Following this reaction, the faces of some industries have pulled back from their alliance in the bill, while others may be a little more superficial in their retreat.
Just a week ago, GoDaddy was one of the first big-name corporations to declare their alliance for SOPA only to almost immediately retract it after enduring an intense Internet backlash against the decision. Skatter Tech reported on the following reaction of social forums’ CEOs, including Ben Huh and Paul Graham, among others—all willing and eager to transfer their business from GoDaddy to competitors. The disaster that ensued from their public alliance wasn’t the only reason GoDaddy recalled their support—much of the responsibility was assigned to the outcries, boycotting, and petitioning held by the Reddit community.
The online censorship act would also greatly affect the way the gaming industry utilizes the online community in the attempt to offer the ultimate gaming experience. And thus major players in the gaming industry have declared their support for the anti-piracy act and, much like GoDaddy, have had to face the wrath of the internet in return. Nintendo, Sony, and Electronic Arts have all declared their alliance with SOPA and have had to recall it after the boycotts and criticism followed. On the surface, it looks like the internet has successfully protected itself from censorship by influencing the industrial giants that could sway its future entirely. However, that may not be the case.
While it is confirmed that Nintendo, Sony, Electronic Arts, and others have all pulled out of their alliance with SOPA, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has not. This is notable because ESA is a significant driving force behind SOPA and members of the ESA include (you guessed it) Nintendo, Sony, and Electronic Arts. ESA’s influence doesn’t stop at SOPA, either; it also reaches sister acts like PROTECT IP. It is also capable of targeting specific websites and shutting them down as seen fit. This leads to the obvious question—has their heavily criticized support for SOPA truly been lifted?
Online communities have spoken and effectively made it clear to major players like Sony, Nintendo, GoDaddy, and others that SOPA will not be passed without a fight. These corporations have reacted appropriately by removing their association with the anti-piracy act on the surface, but whether or not that actually removes their influence on the bill is questionable. Regardless of opinion, it is our responsibility as contributors to online communities (of any caliber) to understand just how deep the influence and effects of SOPA go. And, as always, “hell hath no fury like the Internet’s wrath.”