TIGA, the trade association representing the UK games industry, has spoken out against an anti-piracy bill being debated in America, fearing it will cause damage to the online games industry.
The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is being debated by the USA Congress but it has run into a wall of opposition from technology companies including NVIDIA, eBay, Facebook, Google, Wikipedia and Yahoo. It has also caused worry among developers of online games, including TIGA member Jagex, who fear that the community element of internet-based gaming could be crushed.
Mark Gerhard, CEO of Jagex, stated:
“Jagex is fervently opposed to the proposed “Stop Online Piracy Act” as it will essentially create a national censorship firewall for American internet users. Specifically this could crush the community element of online gaming and could result in a huge lack of freedom of speech, creativity and opinion sharing.
“Secondary to providing compelling games Jagex provides a social platform for our own community which could be hugely affected, negatively impacting on community sharing, forum activity, even in-game chat.”
Currently only creators of copyright-infringing material can be sued by copyright owners. If SOPA is passed, the liability would be extended to any site carrying that material. This means anyone using an online game, forum or gaming media website to post copyright-infringing material would potentially open up the game, forum or website to costly legal action too. It would also cause problems for gaming communities, effectively barring people from taking screenshots or videos posting them online. TIGA believes that the measure is disproportionate and potentially damaging to online games businesses.
Additionally, the legislation could cause websites to be ‘shut down’ if they are hosting copyright material or seen to be enabling piracy. However, while this would be potentially damaging for online games businesses, it could also fail to prevent piracy. This is because while the legislation would enable the blocking of a readable domain name website address, the numerical computer address of the relevant website would remain on the internet. Those individuals determined to access blocked sites would therefore still be able to do so, while innocent users would be inconvenienced.
Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, said:
“The worry is that this legislation would expose online games businesses to damaging legal action, while inhibiting innovation and leading to over-caution online. Videogame companies could have to spend time and money analysing the behaviour of their users.
“TIGA understands the need to clamp down on rogue websites – those which blatantly make money from piracy and therefore restrict the profit margins of developers and digital publishers – but it believes SOPA would be a sledgehammer cracking a nut.”
Notes to editors:
TIGA is the trade association representing the UK’s games industry. The majority of our members are either independent games developers or in-house publisher owned developers. We also have games publishers, outsourcing companies, technology businesses and universities amongst our membership. TIGA won 10 business awards and was nominated a finalist for 9 other awards during 2010 and 2011. In 2010 TIGA won two business awards including ‘Trade Association of the Year’ from the Trade Association Forum. In 2011, TIGA won eight business awards including ‘Trade Association of the Year’ from the Trade Association Forum, ‘Outstanding Organisation’ from the Chartered Management Institute and two Global Business Excellence Awards, including ‘Outstanding Marketing Campaign’. Richard Wilson won the ‘Leadership Award’ from the Trade Association Forum and the ‘Outstanding Leader’ award from the Chartered Management Institute. TIGA is an Investors in People organisation.
TIGA's vision is to make the UK the best place in the world to do games business. We focus on three sets of activities: political representation, generating media coverage and developing services that enhance the competitiveness of our members. This means that TIGA members are effectively represented in the corridors of power, their voice is heard in the media and they receive benefits that make a material difference to their businesses, including a reduction in costs and improved commercial opportunities.
For further information, please contact Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA CEO on: 07875 939 643, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.