19 Jan 2012

Access Denied?

During the SOPA and PIPA protests of January 18th 2012 this site was blacked out. All content was removed and replaced with the message below. Although the protest is now over (in the UK at least) and signs indicate that voices globally have been heard, your continued support is vital. Thankyou for your understanding.

Get used to the message above – you might be seeing a lot more of it in future. The U.S. Government is currently considering the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) – a move which could seriously damage the Internet as we know it should it become law.

  • It makes website owners liable for content posted by their users. Expect to see blogs close their comments and forums close their doors, just in case a user posts something that gets the site shut down.
  • It gives the U.S. Attorney General the power to seize websites that hold or link to infringing content. There’s no request for content removal and no court process or oversight. Places like YouTube, Reddit and Twitter could be pulled offline overnight.
  • It forces advertisers, payment processors and internet providers to block blacklisted sites, again without prior notification, court process or oversight. Sites could see themselves cut off from any revenue.

Gamers should be especially concerned by this proposed legislation – it’s got the potential to stop gaming blogs using screenshots, gameplay and howto videos being uploaded to Youtube and streaming tournaments through places like Twitch.tv. Many of the writers, voices and faces that are a part of the online gaming communities would be unable to operate in a post-SOPA world.

You might be wondering why Mana Obscura (a British MMO blog) is against SOPA and PIPA. The answer is simple – the internet is a worldwide entity. Over half the visitors here are American. Advertising is supplied and paid for by an American firm. Many of the games discussed here are designed and developed in America. While it’s easy to dismiss SOPA and PIPA as an American problem, the realities do not stack up.

Mana Obscura is against video game piracy. The people who work to bring us the games we play should be rewarded, no matter what title or platform they work on. But we’re also against bad lawmaking with wide reaching ramifications. Instead we’d like to see the technological and creative industries work in partnership to bring new ways to harness the power of their entertainment without penalising loyal customers and harming fans.

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