This is my thinking:
These companies belong to different trade groups. They pay their dues, contribute opinions on different things, but mostly leave these groups alone and go on doing their actual business.
Meanwhile, the trade groups advance their own agenda, given a mostly free hand by their constituency, which again, has better things to do. The group doesn't actually do all that much that's useful, otherwise their staff would be working for real companies. But they shuffle papers around, undertake activities like, say, harass small businesses about software licenses, and generally look like they have a reason for being.
Then, occasionally, these groups will step in dogshit and have to field a bunch of phone calls basically saying "Why the fuck am I paying you dues in exchange for this bad press? Make it go away."
And then the offending group needs to walk back the cat as happened in this blog post.
Plausible? Is that how this works? The explanation with the most incompetence involved seems most likely to me.
The reason why they miscalculated is a mystery to me, perhaps they have realized they have let this "internet" thing go way too far, they cannot control it anymore using controlled disinformation techniques, and this was one of their last attempts to stop this trend.
Yes, it's really that bad out there. But it's getting better.
That being the case, it's not entirely surprising that the BSA would support anything that appears to make copyright enforcement easier for them. Nor is it particularly surprising that some of its members would find SOPA in conflict with their other interests and request that the BSA adopt a more nuanced position.
I guess that's just not as much fun as some of the other conspiracy theories I see in this thread.
BSA lobbies on behalf of member companies. The member companies know exactly what they are paying for. None of them are in the habit of throwing money away.
1) The underlying companies of the BSA (incl. AAPL and MSFT) were not really in favor of SOPA to begin with, and the public attention has lead them to correct the initial BSA position.
2) The underlying companies of the BSA were in favor of SOPA, which is why BSA supported SOPA. But in the face of public backlash they are backpedaling, because it is not valuable to support a bill that will lose regardless.
The second seems much more likely.
So no. I imagine almost everything done by a group like this is with the explicit approval, if not at the request, of almost all their members. But by not having to put their name on it they get an out in case it blows up in their face.
It's like the rats scattering when the light turns on. Is all of corporate America happy to support these egregious pieces of legislation as long as the public doesn't find out?
That last part was mostly rhetorical... mostly.
Until the press gets involved, then things get escalated and straightened back out.
Assuming that's in the neighborhood of truth, it highlights the importance of a press free from government and corporate interference.
Any company with a crucial web presence definitely does not have better things to than stop this bill from being passed.
> It's like the rats scattering when the light turns on.
It's morality by committee.
yumraj's original point still stands.
BSA acts independently, but on behalf of it's members. BSA have proven themselves to be a bit nutty when it comes to infringement, so it wasn't surprising that they jumped on SOPA initially.
However, as above, it was already a stretch by the press to connect BSA's view point on SOPA to the idea that all BSA members unanimously supported SOPA.
This sudden change of face from BSA indicates that indeed the members have spoken up and they do not agree with SOPA, and that the entire thing was just a load of fuss to generate clicks.
Companies like Microsoft and Apple also have a significant amount at risk by this wayward legislation.
Glad he pointed out the obvious. (not being sarcastic)
A more appropriate title would be "Business Software Alliance withdraws support for SOPA."
I'm pretty sure most people on HN who know what SOPA is, know who the BSA is, and if not they'd learn it from reading the article.
I don't think its fair to imply that Microsoft or Apple (or any of the other BSA members) supported SOPA, as it seems likely the BSA was engaging in knee jerk support and didn't consult its membership.
I, personally, think the BSA should strongly opposes SOPA because it doesn't represent the interest of its member companies in the long run. But the title given here is just unfair.
However, the BSA has been the only source of info as to what Apple, Microsoft, and most of the other association members have to say on SOPA. To my knowledge, none of the companies with BSA membership have made any independent statements on the bill, and if so, certainly not on the scale Google did. * My hunch is that the BSA was created for a reason in addition to stopping copyright infringement: To represent these companies without their explicit support, just like any good lobbying company.
If we are considering evidence as to what these companies' positions are, the BSA is the only source we have, and the fact most of them stand to gain from software licenses.
 If anyone has seen a BSA member show opposition to SOPA in the past few weeks, I'd like to see.
The simplest explanation is that the members who were indifferent before, have changed their position in light of the recent "noise". But you can't work backwards and say that those members were originally in support of the bill.
There is no system. That's what makes the internet awesome.
'Holleyman's stance marks a reversal for BSA, which originally supported the bill. In a press statement last month, Holleyman said the bill was "a good step" to "address the problem of online piracy."'
If MS/Apple/whoever didn't like it, why weren't they publicly saying so?
One thing I might be willing to infer from the change in direction is that there was no consensus before and that there still isn’t one. I think it’s very plausible that some members were always against and some always for the BSA’s strategy. Members seemingly also decided to solve this problem internally by lobbying for their position privately inside the BSA.
So, you're saying these companies aren't responsible for their actions because they stand behind an organization that they pay into? Must be nice. I wish I could haphazardly align myself with interest groups and just hope everything works out for me, but if it doesn't, have deniability.