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The People Behind E3 Support SOPA, But Are 'Mindful Of Concerns'

The Entertainment Software Association, the video game trade group that puts on the huge E3 show each year and successfully defended video games’ status as protected speech in the United States Supreme Court, supports the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act and the PROTECT IP Act.

Today, they explained why.

“As an industry of innovators and creators, we understand the importance of both technological innovation and content protection, and do not believe the two are mutually exclusive,” the group said in a statement. “Rogue websites — those singularly devoted to profiting from their blatant illegal piracy-–restrict demand for legitimate video game products and services, thereby costing jobs. Our industry needs effective remedies to address this specific problem, and we support the House and Senate proposals to achieve this objective.”

Both SOPA and PIPA are currently working their ways through the U.S House of Representatives and Senate, respectively. Neither is law yet. Both are designed to choke non-U.S. sites that sell pirated intellectual property — pirated video games, for example. They are supported by major movie and music companies and organisations.

But both pieces of legislation have come under fire from legal scholars, search engine companies and an angry online community that believe these bills enable Internet censorship. The specific complaint involves clauses in SOPA and PIPA that would require the people responsible for the servers that make the infrastructure of the Internet possible to start blocking access to sites that allegedly host pirated content. They would have to block those sites upon issuance of a court order — prior to the complained-about site having the opportunity to defend itself.

This is that controversial part, from PIPA (page 38 of Senate bill 968, if you’d like to read the whole thing):

(i) IN GENERAL.-An operator of a nonauthoritative domain name system server shall take the least burdensome technically feasible and reasonable measures designed to prevent the domain name described in the order from resolving to that domain name’s Internet protocol address, except that-

(I) such operator shall not be required-

(aa) other than as directed under this subparagraph, to modify its network, software, systems, or facilities;

(bb) to take any measures with respect to domain name lookups not performed by its own domain name server or domain name system servers located out- side the United States; or

(cc) to continue to prevent access to a domain name to which access has been effectively disable by other means;

The ESA is aware of the complaints about the bill. In its statement today, the group noted: “We are mindful of concerns raised about a negative impact on innovation. We look forward to working with the House and Senate, and all interested parties, to find the right balance and define useful remedies to combat willful wrongdoers that do not impede lawful product and business model innovation.”

The ESA is funded by its membership, which consists of most of the biggest publishers of video games in the world.