Nintendo, Sony and EA Quietly Withdraw Support for SOPA

All three companies are absent from the most recent list of supporters, though the thirty-four-member Entertainment Software Association remains.

Nintendo, Sony, and EA, the three largest gaming companies who came out in favor of the Stop Online Piracy Acthave removed their names from a list of supporters. As you can see from the recently updated list, Nintendo and EA's names are nowhere to be found. Sony's electronics division is absent as well, though the company's music publishing divisions remain.

For those of you not up to date on your Internet outrage, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, is an anti-piracy bill currently being debated by the U.S. Congress. If passed, SOPA would require websites known to host or link to copyright infringing materials to be taken down, with no due process and little hope of reversal. The far-reaching nature of the bill sparked widespread opposition among active Internet users, who feared that the broad censorship SOPA enables would threaten user-generated content on the Web, leading to the death of popular communities like YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, and countless others.

When the bill was first introduced in November, Nintendo, Sony, and EA were the biggest backers from the gaming industry. Now, it seems, they've withdrawn that support, albeit without any sort of explanation or public statement.

It's worth noting that the three companies are all part of the Entertainment Software Association, an thirty-four-member organization that still counts itself among SOPA's supporters. If you're particularly cynical, you might interpret that fact to mean that Nintendo, Sony, and EA are looking to have their cake and eat it too — that is, support the bill from within the ESA, but remove their individual endorsements to sidestep any negative PR — but the truth of the matter is probably more complicated.

Microsoft, another ESA member, has opposed SOPA from the start, and no one's accusing them of double dealing. The truth is, it's unreasonable to assume that a small minority would be able to shift the organization's broader policy. Could these companies be doing more? Almost certainly. If Nintendo, Sony, EA, and Microsoft all threatened to leave the ESA, they could likely convince the other members to drop their support. Still, that's a relatively drastic (and perhaps unreasonable) move, and no one should discount the importance of this step. If nothing else, it's a sign that the companies who support SOPA are listening and that vocal opposition can, in fact, make a difference.

SOPA threatens online gaming communities just as much as (if not more than) the rest of the Web, and the fight is far from over. Get informed, petition your representative, and make a difference while you still can.