Epic: “We do not support the current version of SOPA”

Epic Games' PR Manager, Dana Cowley, has told fans of the company that it does not support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in its current form. The studio, arguably the highest-profile games company to openly distance itself from the Act, reaffirmed its status as a member of the pro-SOPA Entertainment Software Association while expressing concern with whether SOPA was “compatible with freedom of speech and due process of law.”

In a closed thread on Epic's forum, Cowley stated that Epic, whose Gears of War 3 saw unauthorized pre-launch leaks of game code and media, “supports efforts that would stop overseas websites profiting from pirating our games,” and that it remained a member of the ESA, which continues to support the bill. However the association, said Cowley, was “working with legislators to refine the bill,” which has drawn criticism from experts and the public alike.

While Cowley didn't go into detail on Epic's issues with SOPA, its concerns about freedom of speech and legal due process echo criticisms raised elsewhere. Experts have questioned the Act's First Amendment validity and the website Stop American Censorship has gathered quotes from individuals across a range of sectors and political affiliations opposing the move. Comparable legislation in other countries has been criticized for potential human rights violations and for handing too much power to governments and corporate bodies.

While companies such as Nintendo, Sony and EA have removed their names from the list of companies supporting SOPA, Epic's is the first statement from an industry body of its caliber openly distancing itself from the legislation as it stands. Indie developer Nathan Fouts points out that “as long as the ESA is still listed [as supporting the Act], the game industry as a whole is supporting SOPA.” Fouts' post closes by inviting players and developers alike to contact the ESA, requesting the Association acknowledge prevalent opposition to SOPA by removing its support.