To recap: The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is a bill that was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on October 26, 2011, by Texan Republican Representative Lamar Smith and a bipartisan group of 12 initial co-sponsors.
The bill, which we described in great detail here, could signal the end of the Internet as we know it. It’s chock full of loose political language that’s open to interpretation in the worst way and it essentially expands the ability of U.S. law enforcement and copyright holders to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. [I recommend giving Wikipedia a read.] Interestingly, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales threatened to pull his website offline if the legislation wasn’t amended.
The worst part of the SOPA bill is two-fold. Its not just the effect it will have if it’s passed. It’s why it’s being passed and how. It’s up for debate by a large group of people who don’t really know how the Internet works. “I’m not a nerd”, said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from California (pictured below), “I aspire to be a nerd.”
And the bill is only up for debate because a lot of people in Hollywood want it to be, and they’ve been paying congress for years in order to get what they want. [Read: Dear Internet, It’s no longer OK to not know how Congress works.]
The bill has received an incredible amount of backlash. Reddit co-founder Ohanian recently hosted a telethon to discuss what the act will do to our rights, as well as drive more phone calls and emails to those in Congress to put the act to a halt. Millions have signed a petition, Mozilla has launched a telephone campaign against the Bill, Tumblr users have placed almost 90,000 calls to Congress, 27 companies are speaking out such as Dell, Intel and Intuit; and people are making t-shirts. While only time will tell if the bill will pass, people are very worried now.
On Friday, the US House Judiciary committee abruptly adjourned the SOPA hearing, saying that more Internet experts were needed. As reported by TechDirt, “There’s been a lot of back and forth over the past few days concerning whether or not Lamar Smith was serious about holding the continuation of the SOPA markup tomorrow morning. Many people believed he was bluffing just to piss off the anti-SOPA folks… and it appears that his bluff has been called. Smith has just announced that the continuation of the markup has been “postponed due to House schedule.” In other words, see everyone next year on this… ”
The Internet advocacy group Demand Progress also confirmed the news that tomorrow’s meeting has been cancelled. Demand Progress says its doing everything in its power to stop the horrendous legislation including press conferences on Capitol Hill and policy briefings. Demand Progress has delivered numerous petitions to Congress, and met with the White House as they consider whether to oppose SOPA and its Senate cousin, the PROTECT IP Act.