SOPA Blackout Protesters Succeed in Tabling SOPA and PIPA Bills; Focus Shifts to OPEN Act

To follow up on my blog posting about the SOPA blackout, the SOPA blackout protesters achieved their desired result: SOPA and its companion bill PIPA were tabled after its co-sponsors withdrew their support of the bills, as the L.A. Times reported.

The focus of Congress will now shift to consideration of the Online Protection and Enforcement of the Digital Trade Act (the “OPEN Act”), H.R. 3782, which was introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) on the day that the SOPA blackout was held. In a blog posting to the Silicon Valley Software Law Blog I explored whether the OPEN Act was a more viable alternative, writing as follows:

Obviously, the OPEN Act provides a far less drachonian approach to dealing with infringing foreign websites than what was contemplated by SOPA, which would have allowed full websites to be completely “erased” from the Internet. Instead, the OPEN Act’s approach goes to the heart of the problem: cutting off the ability of infringers to make a profit off of their infringement. So, in that respect, the OPEN Act is definitely improvement over SOPA. Also, there is an argument that the ITC is a more appropriate body to hear these kinds of disputes, since the agency already has been tasked with the job of addressing unfair import disputes, where intellectual property violations are involved. Furthermore, this bill focuses on the problem of infringement by foreign websites, so it targets the real source of concern over infringement as opposed to usurping existing methods of dealing with domestic infringers. . . . All in all. . . I think the OPEN Act is a much more palatable proposal for dealing with infringers, and that this bill is a far better working document than what we had on the table with SOPA and PIPA. At the same time, I think that the whole concept of adopting new legislation to deal with online infringers is still a work in progress warranting further consideration before any new legislation is adopted.

A working text of the OPEN Act has been posted for comment, and I would encourage all members of the Silicon Valley IP community to check out the website and provide your feedback to the proposed legislation. Unlike SOPA and PIPA, this particular piece of legislation is receiving support from some prominent online companies such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. As you might expect, it is not receiving the same kind of fanfare from the entertainment world.

The Silicon Valley IP Licensing Blog will continue following this story as it develops and keep you updated on any news.

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