Today is the day that a collection of popular web sites, some shown above, have "blacked out" in protest of both SOPA and PIPA. The general public knows very little of these bills, and with only minor media coverage over the last few days (ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox appear on the list of SOPA supporters, as reported by Media Matters) many feel this is the only way the general public will be made aware.
But has this changed anything?
Contrary to the shouts of victory over SOPA across the web (and even some mainstream news outlets when it looked like it was a sure thing and they could report on it without upsetting owners), the bill's sponsor isn't giving up. I am absolutely one to say "I told you so," because I did on Monday.
Rep. Lamar Smith released a statement on his site yesterday to say that markup hearings would resume in February:
To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America's intellectual property, we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy.
Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.
I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property.
In response to the scheduled outage of Wikipedia today to protest SOPA, Rep. Smith yesterday afternoon made it clear that he isn't impressed:
It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy.
You may recall my post from last week where I feel Rep. Smith is ignoring evidence, so I am suspect (understatement) of his assertion that today's web site blackouts are nothing more than misinformation and publicity stunts.
PIPA isn't left floundering, either. On January 24 the U.S. Senate votes on it.
- List of websites blacking out today at SOPAStrike.com;
- How SOPA would affect you: FAQ from CNET;
- A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP at the Reddit blog;
- Information on H.R.3261 – Stop Online Piracy Act at OpenCongress.org;
- Information on S.968 – PROTECT IP Act OpenCongress.org;
- SOPAOpera.org keeps track of where your congressmembers stand;
- Read up on OPEN, a competing bill;
- Don't Think SOPA or PIPA Are Dead Yet at this blog;
- SOPA Sponsor Ignoring the Evidence also at this blog.
A Flash-embedded video from Media Matters, "MSNBC's Hayes Addresses Lack Of SOPA Coverage By Major News Networks:"
From the LA Times (January 18, 2012, 1:19 pm EST):
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) withdrew as a co-sponsor of the Protect IP Act in the Senate, while Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) said they were pulling their names from the companion House bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act.
Vice, which is typically a NSFW site, has a great piece showing how PIPA co-sponsor Roy Blunt, Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, Florida congressman/SOPA co-sponsor Dennis Ross and Ohio senator and PIPA co-sponsor Sherrod Brown have (or had, since some of these have been scrubbed) content on their online presences that violate existing copyright laws. As the author notes, there will probably be more (remember that SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith was already caught violating copyright laws last week):
There's many many many more (from almost every single PIPA co-sponsor's site, in fact), but without actually getting written confirmation from the copyright owners in question, I'm unable to post anything here.
CNN reported another senator pulled his support:
"We can find a solution that will protect lawful content. But this bill is flawed & that's why I'm withdrawing my support. #SOPA #PIPA," Republican Sen. Roy Blunt wrote on his official Twitter page.
The NY Times says even more are opposed, though it doesn't indicate just how many of them flipped their position from supporting PIPA or SOPA:
Then trickle turned to flood — adding Senators Mark Kirk of Illinois and Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Representatives Lee Terry of Nebraska and Ben Quayle of Arizona. At least 10 senators and nearly twice that many House members announced their opposition.
Creative America, made of entertainment industry unions and studios, posted a video on Vimeo last month to argue that SOPA and PIPA protect American jobs and intellectual property. The comments on the Vimeo page suggest the web might be the wrong audience.
The Communications Director for Senator Harry Reid tweeted this morning (Friday, January 20) that the PIPA vote has been postponed:
Senator Reid, in statement this morning: "In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote on the PROTECT IP Act."
We should keep in mind that postponing is different than canceling it, and the very next tweet suggests it will be back soon:
Reid: "Amercns rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for their work. I'm optimistic that we can reach compromise on PIPA in coming wks"
This afternoon (still Friday, January 20) Rep. Smiths' office released a statement that I can only presume is about SOPA (since Smith is SOPA's sponsor) despite the confusing title referencing PIPA (Statement from Chairman Smith on Senate Delay of Vote on PROTECT IP Act):
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today issued the following statement in response to the Senate decision to postpone consideration of legislation to help combat online piracy.
The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.
Again, the use of pronouns and indefinite articles confuses me, since the statement nowhere explicitly says that he is sitting on SOPA. Other media outlets are content to state that Smith has pulled SOPA.
Either way, both SOPA and PIPA are postponed. Which I take to mean it's only temporary and once the furor dies down you can expect to see these again, perhaps under different names.