Don’t Stop at SOPA: SOPA and PIPA are (almost) dead. Now can we talk about the law that already exists?

Opposition to the Protect IP Act (“PIPA”) and Stop Online Piracy Act (“SOPA”) reached a fever pitch this week, following a coordinated effort by a number of technology companies and technology-related websites that included a day-long Internet “blackout” in protest of the proposed bills. And the opposition seems to have been remarkably successful, with the White House announcing its opposition to the bills and so many senators and representatives — including many former co-sponsors of the bills — withdrawing their support over the last few days that both the Senate and House have shelved consideration of their respective bills.Thank goodness. These bills are terrible policy and they have very serious constitutional infirmities. Among other things (and there are many other things), these two bills empower the attorney general to have entire websites taken down based only on application to a court and an ex parte hearing (meaning a hearing at which the defendant is not present), flagrantly violating the Supreme Court’s prior restraint doctrine. They also allow courts to order Internet service providers to stop recognizing sites deemed “dedicated to infringing activities” in these ex parte hearings (of which there is no apparent opportunity for review). This remedial approach presents a clear threat to the Internet’s architecture and, according to the country’s top cybersecurity experts, greatly increases security and privacy risks. These and other problems have been well covered, and I will not belabor them here.To read this Slate article in full, see: see:After an Online Firestorm, Congress Shelves Antipiracy Bills
Congressional leaders on Friday indefinitely shelved two antipiracy bills that had rallied the Internet and rocked Capitol Hill, dealing a major defeat to the traditional media industry while emboldening a new breed of online political activists.Using a medium that helped organize protests against the legislation, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, announced via Twitter that the vote would be delayed. But he indicated that the issue, which had been scheduled for a vote Tuesday, had not died. IP, SOPA supporters vow not to give up fight
Internet opponents of a pair of controversial Hollywood-backed copyright bills won a temporary reprieve today, when upcoming votes in the Senate and House of Representatives were postponed.But the lobbyists and politicians backing the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, and Protect IP haven’t given up.”We must take action to stop” online piracy and counterfeiting, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said today. Reid, who previously called the Protect IP bill an “extremely important” piece of legislation, said he believed it could move forward “in the coming weeks.”

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