Friday, January 20, 2012

SOPA is dead, long live SOPA

Moments after publishing the last entry on the subject, I logged on to my twitter feed to discover that SOPA, had officially been declared dead. Lamar Smith, the chief sponsor of of the bill, said today he's pulling the legislation, “until there is wider agreement on a solution.” PIPA, has also been pulled off the table, for now.

Smith was also careful to stress hi s that the rampant theft of "American inventions and products" by foreign entities through online piracy was an economically crippling problem that must be addressed, saying:

We need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products. “The problem of online piracy is too big to ignore. American intellectual property industries provide 19 million high-paying jobs and account for more than 60% of U.S. exports. The theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while American innovators and job creators are under attack.

"American innovators and job creators", that's politician for industry and corporations. But hey, they're people too, right?

As I pointed out before, there is no denying that online piracy, international and otherwise does exist, and should be addressed. But as far as American laws are concerned, I believe the issue of copyright protection is more than fairly addressed. And that the American innovators and intellectual property owners Smith and others who supported his legislation claim they're trying to defend would all be far better served if individuals were once again given favor over corporations by making the ability to defend intellectual property rights -like every other thing in America today- more than a matter of who can afford to purchase a better defense team.

As for international piracy, it seems fairly obvious to me that any solution in that arena is an issue of trade and international law, and not an acceptable excuse for tightening domestic penalties and walling off the Internet.

Look, I think it's great that we all managed to make enough noise to postpone the crippling of the Internet. But as I said before, I believe it's only a delay of the inevitable, as is clearly indicated by Smith's open-ended statements. So even if PIPA, or some slightly less virulent strain of the SOPA virus doesn't return, then republican Darrell Issa's OPEN Act (Ooh, OPEN, that means it's protecting an open Internet right? just like Mccain's internet freedom act sought to free us all from the tyranny of net neutrality right? Politicians are so clever.) or some other inbred sibling of the two, will. And whatever does come next, I personally believe it will come with same "unintended consequences" as these two. But I guess we'll all just have to wait and see.


Image credit: Getty images

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