Many gamers and video game companies can't stand the Stop Online Piracy Act and its companion bill the Protect IP Act (PIPA). But the Entertainment Software Association, the lobbyists who stage E3 each year and defend gaming's freedom of speech rights, thinks PIPA is a good idea.
And they're paying to support the legislation.
Lobbying records for the second and third quarter of 2011 indicate that the ESA, which spends more than $US1 million lobbying politicians about video games every three months, paid two firms a combined $US190,000 to lobby about PIPA and other issues.
Supporters say the bills would fight online piracy. Critics say that the bills, if passed, would stifle free speech online and disrupt the workings of the Internet.
The ESA has used two firms to try to convince politicians how to shape the Protect IP Act. They paid the Smith-Free Group $60,000 between April 1 and June 30 for "discussions relating to online infringements of intellectual property" relating to the Protect IP Act as well as for lobbying for non PIPA/SOPA causes. The same group was paid $US50,000 in the summer for a similar array of causes, which also included education, energy and tax policy as it related to the gaming industry.
The ESA paid the Franklin Square Group $US40,000 in the (northern) spring and another $US40,000 in the (northern) summer to lobby for a batch of causes including the immigration of highly skilled workers and for PIPA.
The filings don't indiciate what position the ESA's people took on PIPA, but the gaming group has made it clear in recent weeks that they support the legislation. The records also don't take into account any lobbying about PIPA or SOPA that was done in the winter. Those records should be filed in the coming days.
I contacted the ESA for comment about their lobbying efforts, but they did not respond by the writing of this post. If they do, I'll add it here.