SOPA Saga: Part 2
We’ve previously talked about the Internet’s overwhelmingly negative response to SOPA/PIPA. Since them, a few key events have occurred in which are worth considering.
The Blackouts: Aftermath
Wednesday’s massive blackout featured countless websites replacing their usual content with a visual of what SOPA/PIPA could cause, and according to sopastrike.com, the protest was a success. The website reports that over 115,000 sites participated in the strike, which helped gather an estimated 10,000,000 petition signatures and over 3,000,000 emails sent to politicians. Most importantly, the strike inspired 34 senators to announce their opposition to SOPA/PIPA, up from just 6 senators on Wednesday morning.
Those numbers are nothing short of phenomenal and truly speak to the importance of a free and open Internet.
In fact, the opposition was so strong that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) decided to “postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP Act.”. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, January 24th, the postponement suggests a serious reconsideration of SOPA/PIPA in favor of something significantly less Orwellian.
The OPEN Act
Reid’s postponement also gave Rep. Darrell Issa the opportunity to present the OPEN act, which has garnered support from tech giants Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Named the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act, Issa says the bill strengthens intellectual property rights while preserving an open Internet.
Giving oversight to the International Trade Commission instead of the U.S. Justice Department, OPEN’s specifics can be found at Issa’s website, KeepTheWebOpen. The website states, “If the ITC investigation finds that a foreign registered website is ‘primarily’ and ‘willfully’ infringing on the IP rights of a U.S. rights holder, the commission would issue a cease and desist order that would compel payment processors (like Visa and Paypal) and online advertising providers to cease doing business with the foreign site in question. This would cut off financial incentives for this illegal activity and deter these unfair imports from reaching the U.S. market.”
Sounds promising, but based on recent actions by the government, new anti-piracy legislation might not be totally necessary.
On Thursday, major file hosting website Megaupload.com and its associated brands were taken down by the U.S. Justice Department due to a slew of offenses, including money laundering and – wait for it – copyright infringement. Wait, isn’t that what SOPA/PIPA were trying to do?
Basically, yes. While the debate is still on regarding whether or not the actions taken towards Megaupload were justified, the timing was a low blow, occurring the day after the blackout protests and suggesting that SOPA/PIPA might be unnecessary.
What are your thoughts? Will OPEN present a good alternative to SOPA/PIPA? Is anti-piracy legislation even necessary in light of Megaupload’s takedown? Let us know in the comments.