What Comes After SOPA

October 30, 2012

SOPA is either dead or being renegotiated, depending upon which industry spokesperson you listen to and which venue you see them quoted in. According to Chris Dodd, the chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, SOPA is dead. Also, according to Chris Dodd, he is confident that SOPA 2.0 is being negotiated. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Motion Picture Association of America is distributing talking points to members of Congress so that those members of Congress can shore up the views of the MPAA in regards to copyright law.

Nice Words, Different Actions

SOPA was shot down in flames when Internet users around the world – and some of the largest sites on the Internet – protested by going black for a day. This made it readily apparent that Congress and the MPAA are not really in control of the Internet. SOPA and its Senate counterpart, PIPA, were both abandoned after this Internet protest, or so it seemed.

According to the EFF, Lamar Smith, the author of the original SOPA bill, has been trying to reintroduce some components of that bill. There is also a “six strikes” policy in effect with ISPs and the entertainment industry. This is the agreement that provides people accused of copyright infringement on the Internet six notices and sanctions from their ISP. It means that the ISPs are now looking at people’s Internet traffic to see what they’re up to without a warrant and without probable cause.

Like SOPA and PIPA, the six strikes policy seems to have been authored by people who understand very little about the Internet. Following the six strikes, there is no hard policy in effect as to what happens to the user accused of abusing their Internet connection and, apparently, their service simply returns to normal.

In addition to the ISP invasions, the Justice Department has taken down websites without due process and, famously, arrested the founder and several high-ranking people associated with the MegaUpload site. The EFF article notes that the case against MegaUpload is rapidly falling apart and that, after having taken down several domains over the past couple of years, the Justice Department has simply abandoned the cases against the other site owners affected.

Whatever the entertainment industry and Chris Dodd have to say about copyright infringement seems to have little relationship to fact. While the MPAA is pursuing a friendlier public image, their efforts to restrict the Internet on behalf of copyright holders continue to be pursued in Congress.

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