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Friday, January 20, 2012

SOPA and PIPA bills hit the rocks in US Congress

The protests by online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, and thousands of other websites, which went “dark” for 24 hours earlier this week, has apparently had the desired effect. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delayed a vote on the PIPA, Protect IP Act, that had been scheduled for Tuesday.

Also, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said his panel would not consider SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, until a compromise could be reached.

Both bills address online piracy like illegal copying of movies and other media. They would also outlaw websites from telling visitors how to access “illegal” websites that would have been blocked under the legislation.

Thousands of e-mails and phone calls to congressmen followed the online protests, and more than seven million people signed a petition on Google, which claimed the legislation would result in censorship of the Web and impose a regulatory burden on online businesses.

The protests on Wednesday seem to have prompted some of the 40 or so co-sponsors of PIPA to withdrew their support of the bill.

The proposed legislation is over the top: it’s harsh and over-reaching. There already exists strong legislation to protect Americans’ intellectual property rights, including copyright and patents. SOPA and PIPA are simply more cases of big-money buying off big government. It is not a coincidence these legislative initiatives were scheduled to pass in an election year when so many politicians are looking to top-up campaign funds.

Protests can work, folks, so long as the cause is just.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell

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