You have probably heard that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) have been postponed, tabled, pulled from and / or blocked in the Senate and House. Regardless of which term you prefer, the answer is yes, SOPA is really dead. Sorta.
It is quite obvious that something needs to be done about online piracy – and I think most in the tech industry understand that. The problem is that these bills were overstepping their intended boundaries by quite a stretch.
On January 18, 2012, another bill related to digital piracy, “Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act” (OPEN), was introduced in the Senate and you can read it online. The bill itself is not necessarily very different from SOPA and PIPA.
The way it was formulated however, may help democracy move towards a new age of legislation.
The bill was introduced by Senator Darrel Issa of California. After composing the original draft of the document, he uploaded it to the web to allow everyone access. Readers can also add comments and notes in a way similar to Wikipedia.
Although similar methods have been attempted both in the United States and internationally, this is one of the largest examples of “croudsourced” legislation.
As the evolution of technology has caused political, economic and financial events to occur at a seemingly increased rate, legislation must also adapt to keep up with the modern world. We don’t want an internet war now do we?
Even if the OPEN bill turns out to be misinformed and technologically illiterate (probably not so much), it still may end up influencing a positive change by modernizing our 18th century legislative process.
In conclusion, SOPA and PIPA really are dead for at least 6-12 months but other similar bills such as OPEN will continue to be pursued until a solution is found to the excessive amount of online piracy that is conducted.
In the process however, the United States Congress may have learned a few lessons and our legislative process has whole may have been improved.
It will definitely be interesting to monitor future developments related to online piracy and the moral, economic, legal and political factors that come into play.