ESA Drops SOPA Support, Video Game Lobby Laments Bill's 'Unintended Consequences'

The Entertainment Software Association no longer supports the Stop Online Piracy Act, the controversial anti-piracy bill that was shelved earlier today in the House of Representatives after a week of fierce online protests.

The people who bring us E3 simply don't want to bring us SOPA anymore. The bill's got problems, they say.

"From the beginning, ESA has been committed to the passage of balanced legislation to address the illegal theft of intellectual property found on foreign rogue sites," the group said in a statement. "Although the need to address this pervasive threat to our industry's creative investment remains, concerns have been expressed about unintended consequences stemming from the current legislative proposals. Accordingly, we call upon Congress, the Obama Administration, and stakeholders to refocus their energies on producing a solution that effectively balances both creative and technology interests. As an industry of innovators and creators, we understand the importance of both technological innovation and content protection and are committed to working with all parties to encourage a balanced solution."

The video game lobbying group, which is funded by most of the world's biggest video game publishers, had come under sharp criticism for its refusal to disavow the proposed bills. Critics said SOPA and its Senate counter-part, the Protect IP Act, would stifle online speech and potentially ruin message board, video-streaming and even some online games that are rich with user-generated content that might involve unlicensed copyrights.

Earlier this month, the ESA issued a statement that said that "we support the House and Senate proposals" to achieve the objective of battling "rogue websites..devoted to profiting from their blatant illegal piracy." Those two proposals, SOPA and PIPA, are on indefinite hold this week and are essentially dead.

The ESA had spent as much as $190,000 lobbying this past spring and summer for PIPA, the also-now-shelved Senate version of SOPA.

As Senators, Congresspeople and even some companies flipped their positions from yay to nay on SOPA and PIPA these past couple of weeks, the ESA remained mum. Their presumed continued support led to calls for a press and developer boycott of E3, the huge annual trade event in Los Angeles that is used to show off the biggest and best new video games and systems from Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, EA, Activision and most of the rest of the giants of video games.