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Let’s talk about SOPA

If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you’ll know that I wear many hats professionally, but the biggest is the gray woolen newsboy cap of an ACLU communications staffer and webmonkey. It’s not terribly often that the gaming and civil liberties worlds collide (aside from a few projects I have in the works for aclum.org), but when they do, it’s a spectacular sight.

This happened in a major way a few months back when the Supreme Court ruled that video games qualify as protected speech. Whether you care much for the “games are art” or “games are relevant cultural products” arguments, that was a big honking deal for all gamers, developers, and businesses in this industry.

Another big honking deal has come along, though this one isn’t as friendly….

SOPA is ostensibly a piece of anti-piracy legislation, and that is, in fact, what the alphabet soup stands for: Stop Online Piracy Act. You can read the contents of the Bill here, if you like.

What it seeks to do is shut down access to websites that contain copyright-infringing content – even tiny instances as such, things like having an image of questionable ownership could be grounds to be removed from the internet. Most, if not all, gaming websites would fall into this ridiculous gray area, and No High Scores is no exception.

SOPA is copyright protection gone wild, and a sickening infringement upon free speech. It’s an awful idea, not only because of the ways it craps all over a fundamental right, but because it would stifle natural creativity that comes along with the free flow of information and content online (kiss your memes goodbye. No more fanfiction for you! You’re glorious Halo fanmods are over!).

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Gamers in particular would suffer from these draconian measures. Fan communities would be busted for the high crime of playing with a photoshop file of Batman. To be a gamer in 2012 is to be an active, engaged citizen of the web, and that would become a very hard – hell, even dangerous – thing to do should SOPA pass and run rampant.

It’s a good thing, then, that there are nerds to help out with such matters. What scary is just how far this lunacy was able to go before anyone with an ounce of sense was able to slow things down. Of course, it’s still around, and still a very real (and very scary) possibility, especially in the current political climate.

Bill Abner

Bill has been writing about games for the past 16 years for such outlets as Computer Games Magazine, GameSpy, The Escapist, GameShark, and Crispy Gamer. He will continue to do so until his wife tells him to get a real job.

7 thoughts to “Let’s talk about SOPA”

  1. There’s also the Protect IP Act which is a pretty similar law bouncing around in the senate that I believe passed but got placed on hold. One of the big complaints I’ve seen being discussed about both laws is how much control the government is being given over regulating internet sites and how little they have to account for their decisions to block sites.

    It also would mean sites like flikr, vimeo, youtube would potentially be in a lot of danger and might be penalized or blocked. And who knows how it would end up impacting sites that link to other sites a lot (facebook, twitter, g+, etc). On the whole they’re nasty laws to contemplate but there’s quite a few petitions out there against each or both laws.

  2. Sorry to get meta, but what are “Halo fantods?” To my mind, fantods are fears or obsessions, perhaps, may DFW rest in peace, inevitably howling.

    Was that just a typo for “fan mods?”

  3. kiss your memes goodbye. No more fanfiction for you! You’re glorious Halo fanmods are over!).

    Wait…maybe I do support SOPA.

  4. It’s also scary to think how much impact such legislation could have on people and businesses who do not fall under US jurisdiction. 

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