The goal was to move closer to a world where owners of intellectual property were compensated for their works in the digital arena. Toward a utopian era, where education and effective legal remedies combined forces to virtually end the theft of copyrighted material.
Content owners and technology companies seemed to agree on the destination, but as usual, when it comes to government regulation, the devil is in the details. In the case of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) the details created adversaries. On Jan. 18, major websites censored their own data with black bars. Google, Wikipedia, Mozilla, Reddit, Craigslist, Wired, TechCrunch were some of the many participating.
The remedies of site blocking and search removal upset the technology faction who warned it would undermine the security of domain name servers (DNS) and incentivize the creation of underground DNS systems. PCworld offered an interesting timeline, written by Grant Gross, of how the bills lost favor and were knocked out of contention.
“Last week’s Web protests against two controversial copyright enforcement bills were a huge victory against three powerful and well-funded trade groups that pushed hard for passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act,” says Gross. “By the time the week was over, dozens of lawmakers had abandoned the two bills or voiced opposition, and a cloture vote on PIPA scheduled for this Tuesday (1/24) in the Senate was delayed as lawmakers try to find a compromise. In the House, Representative Lamar Smith, the lead SOPA sponsor and Texas Republican, killed his bill.”
“Just weeks ago, passage of PIPA or SOPA in Congress seemed all but assured,” Gross continues. “[It had] strong support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives judiciary committees and a coordinated lobbying campaign by the MPAA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Recording Industry Association of America and several other groups.”
Nashville Songwriters Association International, Bart Herbison who had been active in trying to get SOPA passed released a terse message in the aftermath of the bill’s withdrawal.
“Congress was deluged with millions of communications after popular websites went dark this week in protest of both anti-piracy bills and support for both acts dwindled dramatically. Finally, today the legislation was postponed. Concerns expressed by Google and others over the legislation were never accurate to begin with. Most of their previously expressed concerns were addressed when key provisions were removed. Nonetheless, while copyright holders won the debate, we lost in the court of uninformed public opinion. Over the past few weeks this moved from a debate on the issues to a political debate…. and that is when support began to erode. The tech community did a great job of instilling fear and confusion over both bills. I want to thank every songwriter, music industry person and others who worked to pass these bills. NSAI visited with more than 200 Members of Congress about these bills, just last year! Our efforts were unrivaled in terms of putting songwriters in front of lawmakers throughout this process. We will continue fighting until a solution is found. Please watch communications from NSAI over the next few days and weeks as we strategically plan the next steps in this battle.”
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