Bill McGeveran writes: At the end of a Hollywood blockbuster, when the vanquished villain declares that he should have won and that we haven’t seen the last of him, we all know what it means: the sequel is coming.
So, Hollywood’s top lobbyist, former Senator Chris Dodd, followed a familiar script last week after sweeping online protests derailed the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) and Protect IP Act (Pipa), a pair of legislative proposals backed by movie and music distributors. Dodd snarled that his opponents had misled the public and vowed to continue pressing for new laws to combat unauthorized copying of intellectual property. Coming soon to a congressional hearing room near you, it’s Sopa II: Revenge of the Content Industries.
While the US Senate and House of Representatives deferred immediate action on the bills, few doubt that Congress will debate some form of legislation aimed at overseas web sites engaged in intellectual property (IP) infringement, probably later this year. Even Dodd’s enemies acknowledge that these sites pose a problem, though many question industry estimates about its scope.
Those of us who opposed the excesses of Sopa and Pipa need to prepare for the next round. Sponsors have already abandoned the bills’ most objectionable feature, which interfered with the domain name addressing system in an attempt to cut off access to “pirate” sites – a measure critics charged would “break the internet”. At a minimum, Congress must address three other problems as well.