The internet has been ablaze with talk of the new piracy act that was introduced in October of last year.  Many questions has been raised as to what exactly this piece of legislation means for the video game community and why is it good or bad.  Well wonder no more because New Gamer Nation is here to breakdown what this new law is proposing and its possible implications for the common video gamer.  Either way we can’t stress enough how important it is to stay informed and protect yourself and your fellow gamers.  There are few hobbies out there that are this heavily watched and people have been trying to bring tighter regulations to video games for many years.  Up until now we’ve been safe and we’ve been enjoying the freedom that comes with it.  Will this new legislation alter the platform and change the way we play video games from now on?  Let’s take a look.

Basically the SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act proposes the following actions.

  • Copyright holders (anyone who creates original content including video game companies or their publishers) or the United States Department of Justice may seek court orders against websites hosting, distributing or giving access to copyrighted material.
  • Copyright holders or the United States Department of Justice may seek court orders against individuals who stream copyrighted material.
  • The legislation gives immunity to internet services (your internet service provider, YouTube, Vimeo, etc) who provide information that stops the copyrighted material from being distributed or been given access to.  The bill also does the opposite and holds internet service companies liable for the copyrighted information that is distributed on their watch as long as they had knowledge that this activity was going on.
  • Punishments for violating this law includes a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 violations within six months

Now what does this all mean?  Basically, as it stands today, if you own the copyright to something, it is up to you to enforce the copyright.  You must send out letters to the offenders and get them to stop using your property.  Once you do that you can then send a court order and pursue the matter legally in a US court.  This piece of legislation basically expands upon the system that is already there.  The key difference is that streaming will now be regulated and after a certain amount of offenses you can get jail time instead of just fines.  Now if you are caught steaming, distributing or allowing access to copyrighted information you have some serious consequences to deal with.

How is something like this going to effect the average video gamer?  Well this really depends on how you game.  If you just pick up a game and play it then this will probably not effect you directly.  However, if you go online and watch video game videos on YouTube or Vimeo then this will have a direct impact on you.  Users of YouTube or any other media streaming service would now be violating the law if this piece of legislation moves forward.  It would be illegal to record video game footage to share on the internet.  Since this is just a bill it is difficult to say how this law will be enforced specifically and for what games would rack up penalties.  I would guess that any new releases would be more likely candidates for SOPA to come into play.  Whether a company care that much if a 10 year old game would get streamed is anyone’s guess.  Luckily it would still be up to the copyright holder to enforce the laws on a small scale like YouTube.  If a company likes that people are streaming their games and getting people excited for older titles then it would be fine to do so.

When you look at the bill and its implications, it is really anyone’s guess as to how exactly this is going to pan out.  If it is passed and all the publishers out there decide to start issuing court orders to people then we could have a serious impact on the video gaming community.  However, if video game companies see the benefit in their games being streamed then nothing would change at all.  Sure this is a wide range of possible effects but that is why it is important to keep on top of the issue.  If you don’t agree with SOPA and think that it would hurt video gaming then we urge you to contact your local representatives and let them know you are against the bill.

About The Author

Joe Marchese is the founder / Editor in Chief of New Gamer Nation. He has been a gamer for his whole life but has been focusing on his passion to deliver the industry's new to New Gamer Nation. He is an expert of video game culture and has been featured on Fox News Online. Don't be shy to reach out and let him know what you think!