Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

Summary: SOPA is not dead, just badly wounded. But the collective support from one online community alone shows that democracy can, and indeed does work.

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The Stop Online Piracy Act, known as SOPA, has been 'shelved' by Congress to consider its options and to "address outstanding concerns".

Round one is over. But the bills are not dead yet, just badly injured.

While it is entirely possible that SOPA could return, or be brought back as a derivative work under a different name, the Internet can take a breather, lick its wounds, and rest for a while.

The White House over the weekend responded to the SOPA Act, the PROTECT-IP Act, and the lesser-known OPEN Act, which acts in a vastly similar fashion to SOPA.

The SOPA bill, arguably the most controversial, would allow rights holders to have websites shutdown that allegedly infringe copyright, without due process or trial.

While the workings of the bill are still under wraps and polices yet to be written, a "shoot now, ask questions later" approach was clear to see. Many online community-based properties -- including ZDNet -- would have been under extreme risk to these pieces of legislation.

While it was the first official acknowledgement of the bills, it was made clear that the President could veto any bill that does: "not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet".

This comes only days after a controversial DNS-blocking mechanism that ran at the heart of the SOPA bill would be scrapped until the U.S. House Judiciary can, "further examine the issues surrounding this provision". It was the kick in the teeth that the online community was hoping for.

But the White House's comments made it clear that while under this U.S. administration, SOPA, PROTECT-IP and the OPEN bills will not pass.

Reddit has been a firm opposition to the SOPA and PROTECT-IP bills, and was the first to formally announce that the site would 'blackout' in protest of the bills. Others were considering taking a similar approach, but many others nevertheless took it upon themselves to follow suit.

GoDaddy was the target of a Reddit campaign after the company came out and officially supported SOPA. Many major websites and brands transfered their sites away from the domain name registrar. The company, that in the past has been a magnet for controversy, reversed its decision, but by then it was too late.

Reddit makes up less than 5 percent of the U.S. population, with many of its users in international territory. For the bills to be scrapped in their entirety, it would need the collective support of Facebook's near-billion users, and Google's estimated 180 million American users to go dark to make any length of a difference.

Reddit has not made a firm position on its blackout at the time of writing, nor whether the online-news sharing site will continue will go dark in protest still on Wednesday.

But nevertheless, for now, the "three horsemen of the Internet" have stalled, but it does not mean that imminent danger is no longer on the horizon.

It just goes to show how far geeks will go to make their voices heard. Geeks, it should be known, spread far and wide, almost single-handedly helped save the web as we know it.

Image source: CNET.

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Topics: Social Enterprise, Browser, Enterprise Software, Piracy, Security, Software Development

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18 comments
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  • Title Should Be - Freedom 1, Copyright Monopolists 0

    It was not Congress that dreamed up the mess known as SOPA. That load of crap was written by the MAFIAA.
    sismoc
    • True, but

      @sismoc
      Congress widely supported the 'mess' and introduced the legislation after their corporate owners issued the marching orders. Congress was putting a lot on the line and they lose, too.
      use_what_works_4_U
      • PI shall henceforth be 3.0

        Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. Most of the 'Critters couldn't tell you the difference between SMTP and Shinola. Somebody sticks this stuff under their noses, says it's to "prevent piracy," and they go right along. After all, who's in favor of piracy?

        I'll bet you that not one of the 535 Members could provide anything but the most rudimentary description of the domain name system, even though the proposed bill allowed very specific and detailed changes to that system. The reason the bill got shelved is that enough Members finally got scared that they were about to do something ReallyStupid(tm) because they didn't know what they didn't know.
        Robert Hahn
    • RE: Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

      @sismoc
      Or it could be Internet 1 - traditional media 0
      Jean-Pierre-
    • RE: Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

      using "GEEKS" in the title is pathetically ignorant, this is OUR RIGHTS, OUR FREEDOM, We the People, not 'GEEKS'
      bspurloc
  • "Still under wraps"

    Heaven forbid that such an important bill be discussed and marked up in open committee.
    John L. Ries
  • DoubleSpeak or human error

    [i]While it was the first official acknowledgement of the bills, it was made clear that the President could veto any bill that does: ???not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet???.[/i]

    I have read and reread this statement from the article and what it says is that unless the legislation reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet it could be vetoed by the President.

    I certainly hope that this is a typo by the author and abysmal proof-reading.
    Presspop
    • convoluted triple-negatives

      @Presspop - that's what I thought, but I thought it was just me. Why do journalists have to write negatives-of-negatives-of-negatives? It might be perfectly clear to the writer at the time of writing but for us poor plebs, it takes several re-reads to get the meaning (or get it wrong).

      Oh, and in this case, it obviously confused the writer too.
      chrisbedford
    • RE: Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

      @Presspop - I thought this was also confusing further on:

      "Others were considering taking a similar approach, but many others nevertheless took it upon themselves to follow suit."
      talddren@...
  • RE: Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

    Why "Geeks"?

    As Sismoc says at the top here, it's the Freedom faction of Internet users who have won this round. Does the writer think of himself as a geek? Cause he's an Internet user, and all Internet users (except, apparently, the management at GoDaddy) have a vested interest in keeping the Internet free and open. Does that make all 1 billion or 2 billion (or however many users there are on the Internet) "geeks"?

    Odd world view. All generalisations are bad! ;-)
    chrisbedford
    • RE: Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

      the use of 'GEEKS' is just plain ignorant
      bspurloc
  • RE: Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

    When the Internet becomes the creator of a 'third party' and begins to give Americans the power to recruit, vet, register and elect political candidates to public office, then we will have won something of real value. Until that happens, all of this is just a gigantic electronic WalMart.
    jimgetten@...
  • RE: Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

    When they say "geek" I think they mean that you dont see "Ma and Pa Kettle" writing programs or developing lanuages to use on a website. Yes, Im a "geek" and Im proud of it, why do you take so much offence to it?
    xangpow
  • RE: Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

    The ???three horsemen of the Internet???? Where'd the fourth one go? Is he taking a smoke break? Inquiring minds want to know...

    Also: "Odd world view. All generalisations are bad!" Except that one? Or including it?
    ThatWasUnexpected
  • The dawn of new human rights

    Normally i wouldnt express myself this way but !Im so happy! this is a great step in put a stop to mayor mafias and corporation that think they can do whatever they want whenever they want. The soul of internet is much like the soul of their users. It free, misundertood, complicated, funny and many times dark but a great tool for development and cultur. If a government or other organization try and change a little bit of this internet will lose it sole purpose, help in the evolution of humanity. Cheers to all of us who made this happen, and we as corcern individuals can and should apply the same principle for all that is unfair like wars, genocides and the fact that Windows will allow only their OS to boot in ARM devices (lol)
    Cheers to humanity, we still have hope!
    realvarezm
  • Good news for the moment

    It is a good thing for this bill to be shelved, better if it just died in committee. It has been pointed out that this is an industry designed bill. I am sure that there are active laws on the books that can be used to stop piracy and copyright enfringement without being more of a burden to the consumers so the loss of this bill is limited.
    sboverie
  • On being Human!

    Absolutely BRILLIANT. This is one for the people and an own goal by those out to repress the poor!
    chaz15
  • RE: Geeks 1, Congress 0: Controversial anti-piracy bill SOPA 'shelved'

    Boycott all RIAA companies: skip the movies, don't buy or rent DVDs, boycott music CDs, iTunes, paid downloads, paid streaming.

    One or two days of this will produce more screaming and backpedaling than all of the protests and vows to unseat the RIAA's bought-and-paid-for prostitutes in Congress put together.
    LibertyRising