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Riot Games co-founder and CEO speaks out against SOPA

Like many web sites, HonestGamers thrives on user-generated content. SOPA legislation that will be considered again in Congress at the end of this month is an outright attack on that type of content, and it has more than just webmasters concerned. Riot, the developer of League of Legends for PC, has concerns about how the bill could also affect gamers and League of Legend players in particular.

League of Legend may be a worldwide phenomenon, but many of the sites that its users utilize as they share content have roots in North America and therefore would be subject to any laws that result from SOPA (also known as PIPA). Thus, the company's CEO and co-founder Brandon Beck has issued a passionate appeal to the global League of Legends community to stand against the legislation. Below, unedited, we're including that appeal.

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We’re not usually inclined to comment on politics. We’re a game company, and making games is just a whole lot more fun.

But there is legislation under consideration today by the United States Congress that gives us serious concern.

Called the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) in the House of Representatives and the “PROTECT IP Act” (PIPA) in the Senate, these bills masquerade as a genuine attempt to curb the illegal piracy of copyrighted content (like movies, music and games). Preventing piracy of copyrighted content is a laudable goal, and Riot supports legitimate efforts to combat these activities.

However, SOPA/PIPA goes far beyond simply addressing piracy. This proposed legislation actually threatens any website that features user-generated content. In effect, any copyright holder could file a claim that a streaming website is hosting unauthorized content (such as a song in the background of a League of Legends stream). Under the law, ad networks, payment providers and internet service providers are now potentially liable for their user’s infringement. These services could then be compelled to immediately remove support for a streaming website or face a costly legal battle – at a minimum cutting off financial means, and likely shutting off the site entirely.

How would SOPA/PIPA impact League of Legends players?

· Kills streaming. If any single streamer plays copyrighted music (or alt tabs into a movie or other owned content) on their stream, there is a significant risk of the entire streaming service being taken down. In some cases, it could even result in criminal penalties for the streamer.
· Threatens independent content creation.Services we all use to create and share League of Legends related content, such as YouTube, Reddit, DeviantArt, streaming websites such as Own3d and Twitch, and more would be at risk of shutting down or greatly restricting the scope of legitimate content allowed on their sites.
· Attacks our community. Aspects of our service such as the official forums and potentially even in-game chat, could be taken down or have their features reduced based on user behavior.
· Other harmful effects. SOPA/PIPA undermine established intellectual property legislation like the DMCA, raise serious constitutional free speech issues, and could even compromise the basic security infrastructure of the internet.

This all may sound implausible, but it’s a very real threat. Congress will reconvene at the end of January, and with a long roster of supporters on both sides of the aisle, SOPA/PIPA could actually pass. The likelihood is so great that technology giants including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter have gone so far as to publicly consider a simultaneous blackout in protest.

Riot Games is opposed to SOPA/PIPA in their present form. While we do support efforts to prevent online piracy, the current form of this legislation comes at far too high a cost for us, our players, and online communities across the internet.

Reported by Jason Venter


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