Chris Dodd tried to assure an audience that SOPA and PIPA are truly gone, but many speculate about what new SOPA-like bills will come in the future.
Months ago, the Internet bills attempting to limit piracy online known as SOPA and PIPA attracted the attention of Internet users across the country. As a grassroots resistance grew online and concerned citizens began mailing, emailing, and calling their local representatives, support for the bills in the House and the Senate respectively started to drop off. However, there was a series of confusing postponements and reviews of the bills that left many who were unfamiliar with the legislative process confused about whether the bills were really off the table for the representatives or if they were only delayed.
SOPA and PIPA were fronted originally by Chris Dodd, head of the MPAA. The bills also got a lot of support from the RIAA, large Internet corporations with cash to spare, and many government officials who perhaps didn’t recognize that the language of the bills went beyond simply stopping piracy to granting power to the government to control the whole Internet. Because of all the big name support it had, Internet activists were also encouraging everyone who valued their Internet freedom to stay vigilant in watching for the next SOPA or PIPA iteration that would come from these media groups.
For example, in 2010 an Internet privacy bill called COICA was presented in the Senate that tried to present many of the same regulations and provisions that PIPA was trying to achieve. Different versions of SOPA and PIPA have come before and many are bracing themselves for the future fights that will be new iterations the bills in the future.
On Tuesday night, Chris Dodd spoke to San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club. An MC asked Dodd about SOPA, but the conversation was deftly avoided. However afterwards, Dodd couldn’t help but answer questions about SOPA from the reporters waiting outside the event. Instead of the hunt-for-pirate-blood tone that pervaded much of the pro-SOPA speech last year, Dodd was reported as sounding more cooperative and chastened than ever before. “When SOPA-PIPA blew up, it was a transformative event. There were eight million e-mails [to elected representatives] in two days,” said Dodd. “People were dropping their names as co-sponsors within minutes, not hours,” he also said.
Finally, Dodd stated, “These bills are dead, they’re not coming back. And they shouldn’t. I think we’re better served by sitting down [with the tech sector and SOPA opponents] and seeing what we agree on.”
Perhaps the most unfortunate part about this whole saga has been the noble intentions of the bills but their misguided execution. Online piracy is something that should be reined in and it truly is unfortunate when your favorite artists or directors don’t get credit when credit is due to them. The fault in the bills was primarily with the broadly drafted language that gave government power to stop all Internet traffic based on one person’s illegal activity.
Regardless of your thoughts on the latest attempts to stop online piracy in the House and the Senate, I think it’s safe to assume that many corporations will have a vested interest in stopping pirates from stealing their intellectual property. And because of that, I predict we will keep seeing re-creations of SOPA and PIPA in the future.
To read more about what SOPA and PIPA were all about, check out our blog post explaining all about the bills here.