Former Sen. Chris Dodd, head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), described the postponement of SOPA and PIPA as a sign that the US government is “failing to act” in the fight against online piracy while still allowing the Internet “to be a safe haven for foreign thieves.” Meanwhile, Dodd said, American jobs are being lost and consumers are in danger of being “exposed to fraudulent and dangerous products peddled by foreign criminals.” But in an interview with the New York Times on Thursday, Dodd seemed to “raise the white flag,” acknowledging that the MPAA was “taken aback by the mass online protests against the bills” and calling for Hollywood and the tech community to “meet and hammer out their differences in a White House summit.”
Next Up: The OPEN ACT
“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved. Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices.”
Indeed, on the horizon is a related bill, the OPEN ACT, sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who have been “stalwart” critics of SOPA and PIPA. The OPEN ACT makes the International Trade Commission rather than the DOJ the enforcer for online piracy and also offers a narrower version of pirate websites. As Talking Points Memo points out, some are not sure that focusing on online piracy in particular is the right approach:
“Where we need to start is actually getting a ‘User’s Bill of Rights’ together for communication and sharing of culture,” [Tiffiniy Cheng, co-founder of Fight For the Future, an online advocacy non-profit] said. “We need to defend way people communicate online. Once we get that in place, then we can go forth from there.”
Cheng said her group is working on drafting a Internet User’s Bill of Rights at the moment.
Internet activists have claimed victory in the fight against SOPA and PIPA. But we need to focus equal scrutiny on the OPEN Act and, as Cheng says, ask if policing online piracy as these bills describe is in the best interests of all; in the best interests of keeping the internet the site of innovation, creativity and freedom of expression that we have come to know it to be.
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