I've been hearing about this SOPA thing, and wanted to throw in my two cents. I started by trying to read the bill itself, but cannot pull myself through the legal jargon. So I decided to do what any former college student would do, and looked up Wikipdia articles, and other such things to educate myself. After all that I have read, I cannot say that I support the bill, but I can see where corporations and legislators might.
The bill seems to have a few definitions, depending on who you ask or when, so I am basing this of what I read most recently. I had some thoughts on what I was reading, why there might be support for it, and why it isn't the end of the world.
1. Stopping Online Piracy is Good
This kind of piracy is totally OK though. Just sayin'.
This bill is being introduced in DC. It should come as no surprise, then, that this is grounded in politics. From the point of view of stakeholders, stockholders, and politicians, the intent of this bill is right up there with the motion that puppies are adorable. But if you do not support the bill, someone is going to use the contrapositive argument: If you are against this bill, you are against stopping piracy. So now imagine you are the CEO of a company. Do you side with the people providing you capital and support on Wall Street, or do you side with the end consumer? In my opinion, both moves have their merit. Taking a public stand for or against SOPA is a ballsy move that will upset one of these crowds, but there is one larger problem in the form of the ESA. These companies belong to this Association, which provides them benefits like E3, stats and figures, and are (from what I can tell) a liaison between the game company and the government. By standing against them, you may be risking those benefits, which will no doubt have a negative impact on your business. If the bill actually does stop piracy, there may be increased revenue (which is difficult to qualify, as it is somewhere between 0 and several million dollars...they won't lose money if the bill stops piracy is what I am driving at here.)
2. The Red Tape
Paraphrasing what I read while researching, the bill allows the copyright holders of an intellectual property or the Department of Justice to go to court to see if they can remove the offending material from the website. Just typing that sentence was work. Because of the time and money this is going to require trivial infringements will be impractical to go after. In addition, there is a threshold of times the site has to offend in order to be brought to court, so this will only target large case copyright infringement. Finally, the result of this is that the website has to remove the infringing material within a reasonable time frame, and until then only that material will be blocked from search engines and other sites. How often do you want to bet the site will voluntarily resolve the conflict out of court? My guess is the very high ninety percent range.
3. Free advertising
One of the largest complaints is that companies (Read: EA/Activision) can stop user generated content, such as streams of their games and YouTube. My question to that is why would they want to? If you can get a large audience, for free, to watch someone play and enjoy your game, that is called advertising. That will lead to people buying your games(/music/watching your sitcom whatever) which leads to money. There is no reason why a company would go through the hassle of courts to take away a free revenue stream. In addition, sicking the dogs on someone who is posting user generated content will create a PR nightmare which could stop future revenue streams, which again is BAD.
4. The Internet Isn't Free
But dammit, Taterchimp, the internet is a bastion of freedom and hope! It doesn't belong to the government, and we aren't commie dogs like China! Oh wait, we are, never mind. I don't know where this idea that the internet has no right to be regulated comes from. Case in point: upload some child pornography, and see how free the internet is then. Or you know, look at it, and tell me you don't think you are going to get a phone call. The internet has to have certain regulations on it (and if you don't think so, you are a pedophile....see point #1 )
5. Censorship is already happening
So wait, companies are going to have the ability to remove content from a website if they have a copyright to that material? Then the corporations have power (don't get me started on why corporations are sooooo evil lolololidk my bff Jill). This has been happening for years on YouTube, specifically with Viacom, and generally with the entire music industry. All of them have the ability to remove user generated content from the site (often creating the worst audio/video match ever). But this is different, because LOGIC! Yet I haven't seen this trend with video game streams or let's play videos. Maybe video game companies don't care enough to pursue it, so it wouldn't be an issue if the bill passed anyway....
Better judgement said: don't Google image search pedophilia.
6. The Bill Could Assassinate the President
Almost every article I have read has mentioned things that SOPA could do, and very few mention what it will do. SOPA could disable the next YouTube, MySpace, FaceBook, it could prevent people from streaming, it could slap my mother and piss on my great grandfather's grave. Many of these claims come off as fairly baseless. I can't say that these won't happen, but you can't tell me that they absolutely will, so until it is set in stone that this bill is going to take away your first born, let's take a stop back, alright?
7. Pirates Will Find Another Way
Oh they will? The fuck it, let's not even waste our time trying to stop them. Expanding that to the nth degree, we shouldn't stop murderers, rapists, and dictators, because they will just keep doing it anyway. What I am trying to say is that because they may (read: will) find another way, that doesn't mean we shouldn't stop what they are doing now.
Again, I am not sure that this bill is the best course of action. I honestly do not have the background and the patience to understand every single implications that this bill has. That being said, I can see it having some merit, and I get the feeling it has been a tad bit sensationalized. If any of my facts are incorrect, I did not do so intentionally, and I am genuinely interested in why I was wrong (with supporting evidence pleeeease). At the end of the day, I cannot see myself boycotting a company if they do support this bill, and on the other side of the coin, a company that stands against it hasn't really won me over.