The Stop Online Piracy Act has been sunk “until there is a wider agreement on a solution” said Congressman Lamar Smith, who introduced the act last October. This comes after the worldwide response with the Internet Blackout, the takedown of Megaupload, and a retaliatory strike by Anonymous. In addition, the Protect Intellectual Property Act vote has been postponed.
This does not mean the issue is entirely dead. Senator Harry Reid said that “There is no reason that legitimate issues raised about Protect IP can’t be resolved […] I’m optimistic that we can reach a compromise on Protect IP in the coming week.”
There is very little doubt that Internet Piracy costs jobs and money. However, it would likely cause an indirect and possibly unintentional backlash against the innocent who wouldn’t realise that they were breaking the law by posting about or with copyrighted content; versus those who would rightfully be targeted for illegally distributing similar content.
Most internet-based news sites are now bringing forth two more acts which sound similar to SOPA/PIPA. The first is OPEN, the Online Protection and ENforcement of Digital Trade Act. Proposed by Senator Wyden and Congressmen Issa, it is an alternative to the two contested acts. The main difference is that power of enforcement for use of copyrighted material will be handled online by the International Trade Comission rather than the Department of Justice.
The full act can be seen at keepthewebopen.com and can be commented by any user on any passage of the article. A problem with OPEN though is that it may seek to control more Intellectual Property and in its current form is still to vague to be credited as reliable enough to slow down piracy. However it has received backing from some internet sites who opposed SOPA/PIPA.
The second of these is ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. It is an agreement within most of the World Trade Organisation members including the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan and the European Union. ACTA has been kept a secret, mostly because it hasn’t had much scrutiny and that it works outside parliaments and standard government organisations. Within ACTA, the phrase “Intellectual Property” has not been defined properly, so it could mean any sort of property and any sort of counterfeiting, such as network sharing, can be considered illegal. It doesn’t just stop at the Internet though, also mentioning the illegal distribution or false distribution of medicinal items. Notably Brazil, Russia, India and China are not part of the agreement with India going as far as to counter the act.
While SOPA and PIPA might be put to bed, the new war (which isn’t new at all) about internet sharing and intellectual property will continue to go on. And as such will continue to produce more four letter pronounceable acronyms.