Destructoid officially stood against the Stop Online Piracy Bill last week, to a round of applause from its readers. The message seems to be that you care about stomping on this horrible little bill as much as we do. With that in mind, I would like to ask you that, if you do care, you help reduce the game industry’s responsibility for the thing.
Yesterday, I drafted an open letter to the ESA, highlighting its hypocrisy and betrayal of gamers. Today, I’d like to ask that you join in. Below, I have drafted two basic letters — one for the ESA, and one for individual members — that you’re more than welcome to use (though please write your own if you want!). I’ve also tracked down as many email addresses and contact pages for these organizations as I can find.
If you’d like to help, please send your letters to all those destinations, and spread the word to other gamers, that they might do the same.
I dislike seeing the industry to which I’ve devoted my professional life back something so philosophically, politically and intellectually abhorrent. I want to see the game industry stand with gamers and the Internet, not against it. I like to think most of us do, so let them know!
A letter for the ESA
Dear Entertainment Software Association,
Last year, when free speech in the videogame industry was threatened, you asked for help from gamers. The famous Brown vs. EMA/ESA case provided a landmark ruling that protected videogame content under the First Amendment. You appealed to gamers for their support and coverage, and many gamers rallied around the industry.
Now, when free speech at large is threatened, you not only refuse to fight the threat, you actually join forces with it. You operate a group that claims to protect free speech — the Videogame Voters Network — and pretend to champion the rights of gamers, but until you stop supporting the Stop Online Piracy Bill, that’s all the VGVN is — a pretense.
It is hypocrisy on a most despicable level to continue supporting SOPA after asking gamers to fight for the rights of the game industry. You are sending the message that you want exclusive freedom for your stable of publishers, while the freedom of others means nothing. You are sending the message that the ESA is an organization that begs for help from a community, only to abandon and betray that community at the earliest convenience.
It is a terrible message to send to the countless gamers that supported you in the past, and who deeply love the entertainment produced by those you represent. You have told us that you wish to protect free speech. If you do, then please discontinue your support of a bill that could damage it so recklessly. As other companies dissolve their allegiance with this poorly written, glaringly broken bill, I ask you to do the same and to do for the Internet what you asked the Internet to do for you.
A Concerned Gamer.
A letter for publishers
To Whom It May Concern,
As you may already know, the Stop Online Piracy Act is currently attempting to steamroll its way into law. This vaguely written bill claims to want to protect American intellectual property, but its potential to significantly damage the Internet as we know it is too great to blindly support, no matter your stance on piracy.
You are a member of the Entertainment Software Association, which means you support this bill regardless of your own individual sentiment (or lack thereof).
Yes, theft of intellectual property is an issue, but aligning with SOPA is not the way to go. SOPA will allow corporations to force websites offline with very little due process, and could make felons of users who share content in even the most benign of ways. A chilling effect could be seen across the Internet, as important social networking sites like Twitter, Reddit and YouTube become directly threatened and creative individuals grow to fear the invisible boundaries placed around them. Jobs will be at stake in one of the most dynamic and successful sectors of this nation’s economy.
Internet service providers oppose this bill. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla and the Wikimedia Foundation all oppose this bill. More importantly, developers in the games industry, not to mention millions of gamers around the world, oppose this bill. I am one of them. I love videogames, and I love this industry, but I also love the Internet and what it has become. It pains me that the industry I love wants to threaten the Internet, and freedom of speech at large. I like to think better of this industry and of you.
As a videogame publisher, there is no doubt that your own marketing departments have utilized the Internet to promote your products — be it via social networks such as Twitter, videos on YouTube, or even live streaming games through sites like Twitch TV. I fear many companies do not understand that SOPA could work counter to their own interests, as these wonderful methods of advertising and communication come under fire. By supporting SOPA, even indirectly, you could be cutting your own legs out from under you.
I ask, humbly, that you therefore raise awareness of this bill among fellow ESA members, and help us pressure the ESA into withdrawing its support. As SOPA’s allegiances continue to dissolve in the face of overwhelming popular opposition, we ask that you do the right thing and help protect the freedom of your customers, as well as preserve the open, creative, dynamic nature of the Internet. It is doubtful that SOPA will significantly harm piracy. What is less doubtful is the harm it could do to everybody else, no matter what side of the debate they occupy.
A Concerned Gamer
A list of contact details for the ESA and its members
(I tried to find as many email addresses as possible, but substituted contact pages for those without. If you have more contact details, let me know and I can edit them in! I did my best to find good details, but I know we can find more)
And of course …