The Tangent: Thin Layer of PROTECTion

The Tangent: Thin Layer of PROTECTion

by January 18, 2012

Misdeeds under another name are just as sour.

Shorter than most Tangents, and perhaps harsher in tone, because the issue is a simple one that some companies, Sega included, hope people don’t notice.

I doubt I need to explain to you what SOPA is, or the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). If you still somehow are in the dark about the details of the proposed bills, look at Reddit’s or Wikipedia’s summation, or one of the countless others. It doesn’t take that long to learn about the numerous flaws and issues, the massive loopholes that will defeat the point of these bills being “anti-piracy” bills, and the creeping threat of “Don’t worry, we’re only going to use it for this one awful thing. Never anything else. We promise.

You already know the issues and threats. You know how shamelessly some politicians have actually bragged about their lack of knowledge on the subject, while supporting the bill all the same. You’ve seen the supporters list, all pouring money into promoting this bill in one form or another, set to benefit from the unprecedented control it will provide them. And on that list is the Entertainment Software Association, the ESA.

The ESA is by no means the largest supporter, but unquestionably a dedicated one. One-fifth of their lobbying budget has paved support for these bills. Money talks in Washington, an unpleasant reality as too many elected officials listen more carefully to the MPAA and RIAA than their constituents. So by throwing nearly $200,000 toward the efforts of pushing PIPA and SOPA through Washington, they are directly part of the problem.

The ESA has over 30 members, and includes all console manufacturers and virtually all major publishers. Most of these members when questioned about SOPA and PIPA offer no comment, or only state that they defer their judgment to the ESA. They are the ESA, at least in part, so what sort of excuse is that? Companies like Nintendo, and Microsoft, and Capcom and Square Enix and Sega all determine the direction of the ESA’s efforts, and I’m sure if some of the bigger names on that list put their foot down and said, “We’re not to support SOPA or PIPA anymore,” Natsume and 505 Games wouldn’t be in much of a position to disagree.

Of course they won’t, since they stand to benefit greatly from it. But this is the key thing to remember: whether or not Sega, Nintendo, or any other company “doesn’t like” SOPA or PIPA doesn’t really matter, it’s what they do as a part of the ESA that matters. The video was cute, and wholly non-committal, and this is obviously an issue decided far above Sega’s community managers. But it’s an ugly subject to make light of, considering Sega refuses to openly state their position on SOPA and PIPA even now, but supports the bills through their actions anyway as a contributing member of the ESA. It’s a list we want them to leave, but probably not one they can realistically leave, abandoning all control to their competitors. But instead of coming out as a dissenting voice against SOPA and PIPA, or even as a supporter that tries to explain their reasoning behind it, Sega Corporation refuses to comment on the matter as a whole. They want to sit back quietly, and try to avoid being listed as a supporter of what they know is an extremely unpopular bill, while still funding it through their lobbying arm. Sega aren’t the only ones doing this; there are plenty of other companies on that list that want the benefits SOPA and PIPA will provide them, without the negative effect of being labeled a supporter. Thus, “No comment,” and “We defer to the ESA.” A simple, shallow cry of “Don’t blame us!” But unless they take a stand against it, yes, they are to blame.