Last week, we couldn't go anywhere online without running into reminders that the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act were coming up for a vote. The bills' respective sponsors saw the proposed legislation as means to prevent piracy online, but opponents felt it went to far and would have amounted to Internet censorship. If SOPA and PIPA were enacted, the open Internet would be a thing of the past.
To make certain its voice was heard, the anti-SOPA/PIPA lobby went so far as to organize an Internet strike. Sites like Wikipedia actually went dark. Others like Google and Amazon featured SOPA alerts. Users who visited the sites were given information about the proposed laws and an opportunity to contact their legislators to make their own opinions known.
By the end of the day, support for both bills was declining, according to CNET News. By the end of the week, the sponsors of both SOPA and PIPA had decided to delay the votes. Ars Technica reported the bills have been shelved indefinitely. As writer Timothy B. Lee noted:
Even former Senator Chris Dodd, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, seemed to concede defeat. "With today's announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property."
But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who was a vocal opponent of the bills in their most recent form, cautions the fight is not over: In a statement, he said:
Copyright infringement remains a serious problem and any solution must be targeted, effective, and consistent with how the Internet works.
To that end, he has introduced the OPEN Act, which is aimed to protect the rights of copyright holders and keep the Internet open.
As always, it will be interesting to watch how the debate unfolds.