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SOPA is Off the Table Again, Internet is 2 for 2

After going from the floor, to the shelf, and back to the table, SOPA has been delayed again. This means that for the first time in months, neither PIPA nor SOPA are on an active course to being passed. This is literally the best reaction to the SOPA blackouts than anyone could reasonably expect. Shortly after PIPA was delayed, Representative Lamar Smith — in an oddly familiar announcement — said that SOPA will be off the table until a concensus can be reached and that nerd expert opinions will be seriously considered.

This is great news. Spectacular news; and for a while, we can all probably relax, but there’s just one more little thing to worry about. If you’ve actually been reading any of these statements instead of just scanning them — a heroic feat, indeed — you’ll know that everyone who’s backed down only does so while saying “Ok, ok, ok. But we’re still going to pass something!” That’s fine. Protecting copyright holders from intellectual property theft is important, the only thing to worry about is whether or that the “somethings” are entirely new bills, or rearranged SOPA and PIPA.

Granted, with DNS blocking provisions dropped, the two bills are less scary, and with the way Congress has reacted, we can expect they will mitigate the bills’ power even further if they want them to pass. Even so, it’s important to remember that SOPA and PIPA are inherently flawed and that they aren’t gone; they can come back, both literally and in spirit, with snazzy new names. While it’s important and easy to oppose something that’s horrible, it’s probably more important to promote something that’s good. Hopefully all these new Internet activists will throw their support around a better bill, instead of just sitting back and waiting for the next bogeyman to fight.

I’ll be the first to admit, fighting a bogeyman is exhilarating, but only until you eventually lose.

Representative Lamar’s complete statement:

“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. It is clear that 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 percent 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.

“The online theft of American intellectual property is no different than the theft of products from a store.  It is illegal and the law should be enforced both in the store and online.

“The Committee will continue work with both copyright owners and Internet companies to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property.  We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem.  The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.”

The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.

(h/t CNET)

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