They claimed SOPA and PIPA were dead. They lit a cigar and did a victory dance in the end zone. But what they didn't do is listen closely to what the politicians were saying.
On January 20, 2012, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, pulled the plug on a scheduled vote for PIPA in a surprise twist to the on-going Internet Piracy drama. Supporters of the bill criticized the decision and vowed to continue their efforts to pass legislation.
From the National Journal:
...Reid’s decision to back off sparked sharp reaction from Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who sponsored the Protect IP Act and said the problem of online piracy won’t go away.
“I understand and respect Majority Leader Reid’s decision to seek consent to vitiate cloture on the motion to proceed to the Protect IP Act,” Leahy said in a statement. “But the day will come when the senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem.”
Leahy, the main architect of PIPA, vowed to move forward with the bill.
From TPM IdeaLab:
Leahy remained adamant that PROTECT IP is the right solution to fixing the problem and said he hoped the Senate would resume work on it as soon as possible:“My hope is that after a brief delay, we will, together, confront this problem. Everyone says they want to stop the Internet piracy. Everyone says that they recognize that stealing and counterfeiting are criminal and serious matters. This is the opportunity for those who want changes in the bill to come forward, join with us and work with us. This is the time to suggest improvements that will better achieve our goals…
“…I hope that in the coming days the Senate will focus on stopping that theft that is undercutting our economic recovery. I remain committed to confronting this problem.”
California Senator, Dianne Feinstein, had this to say about the future of the SOPA/PIPA legislation in a generic letter I received from her office:
On May 26, 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the "PROTECT IP Act" by voice vote for consideration by the full Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced on January 20, 2012, that he was postponing a procedural vote on this bill. I believe postponing this vote was the right thing to do. In order to move forward, the bill must be changed to prevent it from harming legitimate businesses and Internet users in the process of protecting copyrights and trademarks. In other words, the bill must be fair and balanced.
The operative words here are 'postponing' and 'move forward', indicating that this legislation is not dead.
On Thursday I received an email from FightForTheFuture.org informing me about a 200 city European protest of two Internet censorship tactics called ACTA and TPP that use international trade agreements to prosecute Internet piracy.
ACTA would criminalize users, encourage internet providers to spy on you, and make it easier for media companies to sue sites out of existence and jail their founders.
TPP goes even farther than ACTA, and the process has been even more secretive and corrupt. Last weekend (we wish this was a joke) trade negotiators partied with MPAA (pro-SOPA) lobbyists before secret negotiations in a Hollywood hotel, while public interest groups were barred from meeting in the same building.3
Trade agreements are a gaping loophole, a secretive backdoor track that--even though it creates new laws--is miles removed from democracy. Trade negotiators are unelected and unaccountable, so these agreements have been very hard for internet rights groups to stop.
Fortunately, several of the EU countries including Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia are backing out of ACTA due to the impact of the protestors.