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SOPA declared dead, but will there be a resurrection?

Not so very long ago, the protests against a piece of legislation designed to fight online piracy and protect intellectual property were at a deafening pitch. The U.S. House of Representative’s Stop Online Privacy Act, which would have made it easier for government and copyright holders to crack down on websites offering pirated content, was taken offline, so to speak, after Internet fixtures such as Google and Wikipedia led a massive protest against it and the U.S. Senate’s Protect IP Act, arguing that the laws would promote online censorship, stifle innovation and change the Web as we know it.

According to Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America and a former U.S. senator for Connecticut, SOPA is now dead and gone. Although the MPAA built significant backing for both bills, Dodd said in a recent interview that SOPA, at least, “went further than it probably should have.”

The bills and ensuing protests addressed issues that most Internet users hadn’t given much thought to until then. Whether you were for or against them, both bills raised public awareness of intellectual property, censorship and information access on the Web. Dodd said in his interview that although SOPA may be dead, these issues are alive and well, and that leaders from the U.S. government to the private technology sectors believe that something still must be done to address intellectual property on the Internet.

Does that mean a compromise is on the horizon? Possibly, but it’s hard to say when the issue will come to a head again. With elections taking center stage this year, it won’t be the Legislature’s focus. But the next session could bring another attempt at combating online piracy without threatening free speech and innovation and imposing too many other restrictions.

Source: Bloomberg, “SOPA, Dolce & Gabbana, Becton: Intellectual Property,” Victoria Slind-Flor, April 13, 2012

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