IAmA attorney for Riot Games directing our opposition against SOPA/PIPA. AMAA
My name is Logan and I work as Counsel for Riot Games. I run the IP and Games component of our legal team, and architected Riot’s stance on SOPA/PIPA. I go by Lomar on the LoL forums, and yes, that really is me in the Brolaf video. While we are generally apolitical as a company, given the clear harm to our community this legislation would inflict, it’s critical that we get involved. I’ll be online answering questions about Riot, our position, and SOPA/PIPA until sometime late this (Weds., 1/11) afternoon.
That's all for now folks! Thank you for reading, for your action, and for your support. Off to go plot our next moves against SOPA. Also, I wanted to make sure everyone knows where to go to speak out about this.
If you are voting in the US (or are referring US voters) please send them here: https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8173
If you're not a US-citizen, but want to make YOUR voice directly heard, please go here: http://americancensorship.org/modal/state-dept-petition/index.html
And finally, a link to the original announcement by our CEO, Brandon Beck: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1696462
Thanks guys, and keep up the good fight!
Nothing's off the table, but we aren't yet actively considering a blackout. I think the immediate concern for us is whether or not this would upset more players than not. We're open to using as many levers as we can to push political action, though.
We're definitely going to take all options under consideration. Our goal is to do our part to help defeat SOPA, and we'll do whatever we think is most effective to make that happen.
Isn't upsetting the players kind of the point of the action? Considering that it's almost like a taste of what's to come if the bill passes, it's a huge way to get awareness out. "I can't play my favorite game because of this terrible bill!" It would really stick.
At least you guys should have something big on the launcher and client though.
P.S. you're a bro, Lomar!
I think the news item is right there in the launcher and the client? Correct me if I'm wrong.
p.s. Thanks brah!
It is, although it's just a regular line of text. I wouldn't have noticed it if you hadn't pointed it out, though I'm sure many people who are less active on the communities use it as a news source and would actually look at it rather than the forums or reddit.
Ok - I'll admit, I have very little grasp of how the tech works there. But I'll speak to the folks who run that about ways we may be able to emphasize.
If every company had this attitude, there would be no blackout
That's a super salient point.
Remember that at its core, the SOPA opposition has one major advantage, and one major disadvantage.
The disadvantage is clear. This is about legislation, and in Congress the supporters of the bill simply have laid down more money and are wielding more influence. Sure, there are some giant companies against SOPA, but they are all new players to Washington. Google's had a legislative advocacy department for a couple of years. The MPAA's been around over half a century. In that particular arena, SOPA opponents lose.
The advantage, and where we can ultimately win, is in public action. I have yet to talk to someone non-affiliated with SOPA-supporting industries who understands and supports the goals in SOPA. Congressmen, whatever you think of them, will always value votes over money. If a single Congressman receives enough letters, they will respond. If you make this an election issue - that's how you kill SOPA.
To tie back in to your original question - that tactic can also work with companies. The incentives are a little different. A congressman gains little for reelection by supporting SOPA. A company may perceive a huge commercial gain from SOPA passing. So not every company would be swayed, but there are definitely quite a few companies in the VG industry that have NOT taken a public position. They definitely will listen to their consumers.
It seems like a large majority of the LoL community would support you 100% on any action you decided to take. For those who wouldn't, I think they would more than understand your reasoning, as SOPA is going to effect your users quite heavily.
The blackout would only be one day, which would be very minimal to most users, but still have a huge effect.
I think a lot of people complain that they can't play the game because of Riot's political agenda. Tie this in with the amount of money Riot would lose from the black out alone, and I don't see it being that likely.
It's not about an agenda one way or the other. I don't want to oversimplify, but the whole thing is really black and white:
We object to SOPA because it hurts how our users consume legitimate content on in the internet, and it makes it much harder to engage our community. That sucks - and we're devoting a lot of time and brainpower as to how to stop this from happening.
The question is, is a blackout the best way to do this? Not so sure about that.
Have Mundo's voice actor post an informational SOPA opposition on youtube. It...would...be...GLORIOUS!
EDIT And post it on LoLs front page over the lovely Nikosaur's Showcase.
SOPA Protest Mundo. Hmmm.
"Mundo no let Congress break interwebz!"
The unfortunate thing is, if SOPA passes, the user base is going to suffer much more than they will from a single day black out.
I'm not arguing or contradicting your point, but I'm a bit unsure and would like to know more - why would it do that to a videogame?
It wouldn't hurt the game, so much as it would hurt the community. As the OP said, Riot themselves won't be hurt all that much from SOPA. The community however would suffer.
Streaming would be almost impossible, and all sorts of fan-based websites and activities could, and likely would be effected.
In the long run, SOPA would do serious damage to any video game community. D:
That's gonna hurt the game. Riot is pumping millions of dollars into Esports, supporting organizations like ow3d, twitch, ESL and WCG (who suck, but whatever). I don't think these organizations could really survive the way they work right now. I mean, half the reason people watch guys like Gbob is his MUSIC. The same with so many other streamers. Anything that is owned by another company can no longer be put on stream. That's... thats gonna kill esports. Killing esports will hurt Riot quite a bit.
That's why I was super impressed with MLG's statement last week. They get it. Streaming is a cornerstone of esports, think how drastically it drives acquisition and retention in those communities. If you take away streaming (which SOPA as written WILL do), you basically "sweep the leg" of esports.
Instead of that they could just spam "STOP SOPA LINK" everywhere on the client they can. I wouldn't mind.
If it popped up right in the middle of a teamfight when you're trying to R with Amumu? I'm pretty sure you'd kill me.
I'm an attorney in Los Angeles, I will donate any amount of time to fight SOPA.
The best way to do that is by getting EVERYONE you know to drop a line to their Congressman (or Congresswoman) on this. The letters do matter. I know everyone thinks they don't. But on this specific issue, trust me, they do.
Thank you for not being asshats.
We try. We try.
Can we get some free IP? To show our protest against SOPA ofcourse.
Haha. Clever. :P
Actually, a really smart way of doing a 'blackout' could be to stop all IP purchases for the day, to "ProtectIP"
I actully made an acount for the first time just to upvote you and your great idea. Because that won't piss off to many people, and still give alot of anti-SOPA promotion.
Did you write a Congressman yet?
No question, just a thank you.
Will Riot be doing anything to promote awareness of the anti-SOPA movement, like many other organizations?
What do you have in mind?
Launch screen message, Home page banner, Anti-SOPA announcement at start of every match voiced by the usual announcer!
Addendum: somehow institute a bonus to next RP purchase if you sign an anti-SOPA petition. Not 100% if monetary incentive, even if it is in the form of a discount on imaginary money is legal. Maybe OP, lawyer that he is, can clear that up?
Ok, gotcha. Yeah, we're definitely doing more beyond just this announcement. Some of it will be public-facing, some of it is more calculated to maximize legislative impact against this bill (and is far less interesting to the public at large). But yeah, we're not just saying "we hate SOPA!" and going away.
Could you elaborate on: "Some of it will be public-facing, some of it is more calculated to maximize legislative impact against this bill (and is far less interesting to the public at large)" ? Just curious.
Not too much - basically because it's all in the air right now. A big component of this was seeing how our community responded. If people didn't really care, we didn't want to roll out a whole bunch of initiatives and look like clowns. Now that we've answered that question... stay tuned.
Sona in chains with a ball gag.. i like it. Hey everyone! beHappi has a great idea!
Come on man. We're a T-rated game. :P
How about a huge petition to be linked from client that needs approx 75% of the players (over lvl 6 and that play relatively often)? And as an incentive to sign, once it is done, an IP boost or free RP relative to the speed at which the community responded to the call to arms.
Edit: and if that made no sense, I'm sorry, I'm about to run to class, but I wanted to put my two cents in. I'll clarify more if you want.
I'd much rather anyone saved the time it would take to fill out a petition to write your Congressperson. And to bug everyone you know to do the same. Much more effective.
Hi and thanks for coming and doing an IAmA. If SOPA were to pass, how would it specifically affect League of Legends?
This doesn't hit us nearly as hard as it hits our community. I'll just give a few tangible examples:
- Streaming: There's no way that Riot can risk promoting our streamers by linking or embedding. We have no effective way to pre-screen a streamer's content (although we definitely DO urge that people respect IP law). Under the DMCA, we definitely get some breathing room here if someone commits infringement. Under SOPA, even an embed potentially exposes us to injunctions against payment providers, ad networks, and potentially worse given the immunity provisions in §105(a).
And keep in mind that many streaming sites would be §102 (foreign) sites - subject to DNS blocking. Oh wait, my bad. "Feasible" blocking now. Whoops. So really, there's an open question as to if these would exist.
- Links in the forums: Yeah, again, no effective way to pre-screen. Absolutely gone. That's one step removed from our top level domain. This is truly scary stuff.
In short, think of it this way. Any serious engagement of our community that involves derivative content of OUR IP that is not rigorously screened and cleared has the potential to expose us to such a magnitude of liability that the business case is prohibitive.
Does this also affect European streamers/gamers?
It really will. Think about a lot of the sites you use: Youtube, Reddit, LoL (hopefully). Many of these are US companies. SOPA will directly apply to them.
And if a site accused of infringing isn't based in the US, there are two potential problems:
Indeterminate blocking (DNS in the old version of the bill) of the site by all US ISPs; and
US-based ad networks and payment providers would have to cut ties. Yes, that includes VISA, MC and Paypal!
Is there any way for non-US-citizens to oppose the SOPA?
I would like to know this as well. As a resident of an european country, this SOPA bill doesn't affect me dirrectly, yet indirectly it will affect us all no matter in which country we're in, since as it has been said, most (successful) websites are US based. I am really curious how can us, people from other countries, can help play our part in stopping SOPA from becoming reality. Because we'll do it. I for example am in Romania, which has one of the best net speeds in the world, yet if SOPA passes it will be nothing to use that speed on.
You're on the internet, you definitely interact with plenty of Americans. Opposition to SOPA really is viral. Media Matters did a great study about how many of the large media outlets (owned by SOPA supporters!) are staying silent about the bill.
The good news is with the internet you can just raise awareness around them - there are plenty of other avenues. If you educate just a couple Americans you know about the bill and get them talking against SOPA... they can then spread that knowledge to their friends and family. Who then spreads it. And after a Congressman gets a couple hundred angry letters from voting constituents on this issue, it will have an impact.
Just because you don't vote in the US doesn't matter. This bill will affect the internet as a whole. And so it's the internet as a whole that needs to speak out about this thing. The volume of that discussion can reach enough Americans to persuade our erstwhile congressional representatives to do the right thing. If I didn't believe that I wouldn't be here.
So definitely be a part in this discussion. Educate others, and more importantly, urge them to SPREAD that education. There's no need to resort to hyperbole. Just explain the bill as it is. That will generate all the outrage you need.
Just out of curiosity, wouldn't PvP.net be also in danger considering people can easily use it to distribute links to pirated material ?
Yes. A hyperlink is enough to constitute infringement. We can definitely disable hyper-linking. But if someone is posting music lyrics or other written copyrighted work... how do we block that?
What would become of League of Legends and Riot should SOPA pass?
No streams, no contests, far less general interaction with the community. Less fun.
Okay, since I can't see what your official stance on SOPA/PIPA due to web filters, what is it?
"You can find more details on our feelings here: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/news/help-us-stop-sopa"
Just in case those web filters prevent him from seeing the ironically linked response, here's a TLDR from the article:
"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.
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."
The general idea is that Riot is protecting their forums (linking or uploading images would either be banned or moderated, reducing the potential for discussion and especially the frequent fan art threads) and their community of streamers (livestreaming sites would be a major target under this legislation). The competitive streams are one of the things that has grown the League of Legends community more than anything else, and Riot doesn't want that to stop for reasons both commercial and philanthropic.
I keep on tossing out streams because it's such a salient example. But there are plenty more of things that could be affected:
- Youtube channels
- Fan art
- Mobile Apps
- Fan Fic
Basically, all content creation can be impacted by this bill. The impacts on each will differ, but none of these will be status quo after the bill is passed. That's why we're making a stink. Not only is this about our community - hey, I personally kill a lot of time on Youtube!
I think he's saying he can't get to the site. Here's a text dump:
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 are a misguided 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 and protect content creators (like us).
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. 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.
Help us take a stand. Write your congressperson today and voice your opposition to this misguided and harmful legislation: https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8173"
Kills streaming. If any single streamer plays copyrighted music
Most streamers I've seen play music from free online stream sites such as Pandora, Last.FM or Grooveshark, are those affected as well?
My Online Lawyer Degree makes me think that you couldn't use any of those services. Yes, I (and everyone) has the right to use Pandora. Pandora pays x amount for each -play- of the song. Now, instead of jst one person listening to the song for the cost of one song, MANY people are listening to the content for the price of one song. Also, unless you subscribe, you have a fifty-hour limit. What if I hit mine for the month? I am getting access to Pandora I shouldn't!
Not saying that's right, that's just how I see it. Not everyone viewing the stream is legally entitled to the content of Pandora. It can't be there.
That's just Pandora, too. I don't know how Grooveshark handles its legality.
Where is this Online Lawyer school? It must be good, because that's a good answer.
Bromar! Glad to see you on reddit.
What kind of alternative piracy bill would you like to see pass? You said you are in favor of clamping down on piracy but that SOPA/PIPA are not the right kinds of bills to do this. A great way to oppose the existence of such bills is not just to protest them but to sponsor an alternative, more reasonable bill or solution that helps prevent piracy and copyright theft while not going to the lengths that SOPA/PIPA do. The industries pushing the two bills are going to want something done, and if the only solution is a draconian one then they'll take it and the public distaste with it. What kind of alternative, ideal bill would RIOT support in place of SOPA/PIPA?
I think the key for us is that if you want to address a bill SPECIFICALLY to attack sites that do nothing but promote piracy, that's fine. But this bill goes far beyond that.
105 is where things get really troubling. Basically, this is a grant of immunity to any part of the 'net infrastructure (from ad networks to search engines) who takes down allegedly infringing content due to a "good faith" and "credible" belief. That's a shockingly low standard.
So think about this as an example. Major Media Company A thinks small indie website B is infringing. Before ever bothering with court, they send an angry letter to Google (both search and Adsense), Paypal (and other payment providers), and other supporting companies. They claim site B is infringing, and that they will bring suit under SOPA.
All these different service providers then have a choice. Go to court and fight an injunction on behalf of Site B (which is incremental revenue for all of them); OR just cut services and take immunity. Which one is the overwhelming business case?
In essence - do something that is tailored incredibly narrowly. If you look at the definitions in the bill, there's nothing narrow about any of the definitions of "infringing site" or "foreign website". If I had to suggest one single way to tweak the bill: Make ironclad definitions that can NEVER capture an innocent infringer or someone using IP under fair use. The bill currently fails miserably there.
So in effect, while the manager's amendment did take out the DMCA-style pre-court notice provision... what we have now is a lot more Wild West, and a whole lot worse.
Do you plan on doing a blackout of some sort like reddit will on the 18th, if not, do you plan on taking any real actions against SOPA/PIPA. Thank you for supporting the cause anyhow.
This. It's more important that the Opposition take action rather than simply state their opposition. The blackout will likely not go over well with LoL's community, but awareness is awareness.
This is the chief concern. I think this topic's floated to the top, more comments up there. (Probably a smoother way to do this but I am a Reddit noob).
YOU NO TOUCH MY INTERWEBZ!!!
This really is the Cliff's notes version of the entire opposition. Love it.
Logan, Where are you in the Brolaf video?
I AM Brolaf, actually. Less acting, more remembering my late teens, early 20s.
How'd you make your way to becoming in-house counsel for Riot Games?
Any advice for aspiring in-house attorney's at game/entertainment companies?
Network. It's an insular industry, but could definitely use more lawyers who actually game. It's hard to get a good perspective on what jobs are available given that often they're not pushed too publicly.
Check out GDC if you can spare the time - it's also just very educational on the industry writ large!
When will Riot add wallet slots to my monitor so you can just eat my wallet every time some legit cool new skins/cool new champions are released?
I'll get the features team on this immediately. Thank you good sir!
What is Riot's official position on SOPA?
Does Riot intend to actively protest SOPA?
Does Riot intend to (or have you already) reach out to other companies in your industry regarding SOPA?
Thanks for your time, and keep up the excellent work!
Check out the link above! In short: SOPA bad.
Yes, yes, yes. This really isn't about a single company. This is the sort of bill that only gets addressed through getting people involved. It's pretty simple: The more people who are educated and against this bill, the better chance we have of stopping it.
Do you believe there will be the potential for future harm to the internet and information systems industry in the U.S.? Particularly, do you believe it would be possible for DNS servers to simply be set up in another country? I know with high frequency trading there is a push to set up shop in Africa because of the location. Is it possible we could see the same happen with key pieces of internet infrastructure?
To clarify, it appears to me the U.S. legislature is enacting this law thinking that other countries won't find alternative avenues of delivering content. It also seems naive to assume people in the U.S. won't find a simple way around any DNS blocks set up by ISPs or the government.
Do you also believe the business model used by Riot can be applied to Music or movies? In my opinion, the microtransaction system as well as a free to play client seems to address the primary motivations for pirating software. It would be great if the RIAA and MPAA could rethink their primary methods of distribution to essentially pull the rug out from under pirates.
Also are there internships, or entry level jobs, available in the legal department at Riot? I graduate in May and I live very close to Riot HQ.
Thanks for doing this AMA!
This is a great, great question. I'll come back to the business model stuff later, that's a thick analysis and our community team is prodding me to type faster (I can feel the friction burns on my fingers).
But I do want to hit the DNS blocking component real quickly, because that's one of the more head scratching parts of this bill. Now in fairness, the current version of the bill does not specifically call for DNS blocking. Rather, it asks that ISPs take "reasonable means". What does that mean? Hell if I know. :P
But let's assume that it remains DNS blocking. Well that's pretty troubling. Yes, you can either go to a foreign DNS server, or just have a long list of IP addresses. But so here is what is terrifying about a foreign DNS server. Remember, you're not verifying the IP. So when you type in "Leagueoflegends.com" yeah, you're probably getting LoL. But when you type in "Bankofamerica.com"... are you sure you'll be going to Bank of America? That's really what we're alluding to when we say this will hurt the security infrastructure of the internet.
Also: We DO have a summer internship. We'll probably be posting this soon.
Will you be organising some sort of LoL/Riot Games blackout on the 18th in protest against SOPA/PIPA?
Edit: I would fully support this.
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