Epic Games is among a growing list of companies and organizations, including Wikipedia, that are speaking out against the pending Stop Online Privacy Act.
While Wikipedia is threatening a blackout on Wednesday over the bill, Epic took a stand against a bill that is supported by the Entertainment Software Association.
Epic, one of the top game developers in the world which is based in Cary, is an active ESA member.
However, in a statement posted at its website, Epic made clear it differs with the ESA about the law.
“Some people have asked how Epic feels about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). This post is meant to provide answers,” wrote senior public relations spokesperson Dana Cowley.
“Epic Games supports efforts that would stop overseas websites profiting from pirating our games, but we have to do that in a way that’s compatible with freedom of speech and due process of law.
“Thus, we do not support the current version of SOPA.
“We are members of the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a trade organization that is working with legislators to refine the bill.”
Wikipedia To Go Black
Wikipedia will shut the English version of its website for 24 hours Wednesday to oppose the anti-piracy legislation. The law being discussed in the U.S. is designed to combat issues including illegally copied films and TV content.
The most controversial provision is in the House bill, which would have enabled federal authorities to “blacklist” sites that are alleged to distribute pirated content. That would essentially cut off portions of the Internet to all U.S. users. But congressional leaders appear to be backing off this provision.
“If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States,” Wikimedia said in the statement.
The SOPA bill in the House of Representatives and a similar Senate bill are backed by the movie and music industries as a way to crack down on online content theft. Internet companies including Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook Inc. are waging a campaign against the legislation, which they say will encourage censorship of Web content and harm technology innovation.
Over the past few days, a group of more than 1,800 volunteers who work on the site and other users considered several forms of online protest, including banner ads and a global blackout of the site, the foundation said. Ultimately, the group supported the decision to black out the English version of the site.
Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia who first announced the move on his Twitter account Monday, said the bills are a threat to the free, open, and secure web.
“The whole thing is just a poorly designed mess,” Wales said in an email to The Associated Press.
Wikipedia is also requesting that readers contact members of Congress about the bill during the blackout.
“I am personally asking everyone who cares about freedom and openness on the Internet to contact their Senators and Representative,” Wales said. “One of the things we have learned recently during the Arab spring events is that the Internet is a powerfully effective tool for the public to organize and have their voices heard.”
Murdoch Assails Google
Tech companies such as Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, eBay, AOL and others have spoken out against the legislation and said it threatens the industry’s livelihood. Several online communities such as Reddit, Boing Boing and others have announced plans to go dark in protest as well.
News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch called Google a “piracy leader” in a Jan. 14 post on Twitter, saying that it streams movies for free and sells advertisements around them. A day later he wrote in his Twitter account that Google is a “great company doing many exciting things. Only one complaint, and it’s important.”
Miranda Higham, a News Corp. spokeswoman, declined to comment.
The Obama administration won’t back legislation to combat online piracy if it encourages censorship, undermines cybersecurity or disrupts the structure of the Internet, three White House technology officials said Jan. 14. The statement marks the administration’s most significant foray into a fight between content creators and Web companies that has been playing out in Congress. The Senate is scheduled to hold a procedural vote Jan. 24 on starting debate on an anti-piracy bill.
(The AP and Bloomberg contributed to this report.)
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