Two weeks ago, the Internet fought back against legislation aimed at limiting its freedoms. Thanks to a widespread Internet blackout, SOPA and PIPA legislation has been tabled for now. While it feels great to know that for now, our Internet freedoms have remained untouched, it’s important to pay attention to what may come next.
SOPA is Dead, Enter OPEN
Eugene Lee, CEO of SocialText, wrote two blog posts last week that discussed What’s Next for Online Piracy and reminded us that SOPA is Dead but Not Forgotten. In both of these articles, he encourages Internet supporters to keep their eyes on the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN Act), which was recently introduced. While different in many ways, the most distinct difference is that it calls on the International Trade Commission, rather than the Justice Department to fight online piracy.
We spoke with Eugene Lee to further discuss life after SOPA and what we should be prepared for next. He thinks that Hollywood and Silicon Valley alike need to focus on the issue at hand -- copyright infringement -- without creating bigger issues that threaten the openness of the Internet. In the proposed OPEN Act, oversight is given to the International Trade Commission (ITC) and only applies to websites that deliberately promote copyright violations. It’s a start.
An Unintended Target: Cloud Computing Under Scrutiny
In the wake of the demise of SOPA and PIPA, the spotlight now shifts towards the legality of cloud computing. If MegaUpload, which hosts millions of individuals’ personal and professional files could go down, might other more legitimate file sharing sites be at risk?
Lee doesn’t think that many companies are using SOPA or MegaUpload as an opportunity to revisit or take inventory of how content is created, curated, stored or shared internally or externally. Yet, they may want to review copyright policies or consider using creative works licensed by Creative Commons.
One of the primary arguments made by the sponsors of SOPA is that copyright infringement proves to be harmful to the economy and is a threat to job creation. Though against piracy, Lee is weary of this argument, citing that the flatness of the world lends itself naturally to outsourcing. Being able to leverage skill sets through collaboration is necessary in keeping costs down and engaging proactively in a global workforce.
Tech Speaks Up
Regardless of what comes next, Lee is very encouraged by how the tech world responded. They leveraged the power of the Internet to help voices get heard. If anything, these new issues are sparking debates among people who may have not been previously involved in citizen activism and have encouraged them to speak up and take action.