After a whirlwind couple of days filled with blackouts, indictments and hacks and whatever the hell else happened, US Congress has voted to postpone controversial anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA indefinitely. While it’s worth noting that SOPA hearings had already been postponed prior to Wednesday’s internet-wide blackouts, today’s news stands as a victory for pirates and content creators alike.
According to CNNMoney, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that next week’s planned vote on the Protect IP Act would be postponed indefinitely “in light of recent events.” That, one can safely assume, has to do as much with protests held by Wikipedia and Reddit as it does the flurry of hackings attributed to hacktivist group Anonymous, who shut down sites belonging to the RIAA, US Justice Department and more last night after a federal indictment on popular file-sharing site Megaupload.
As for the Stop Online Piracy Act, the U.S. House of Representatives says it plans to hold off voting until it can come to a firm conclusion on what the bill would consist of. According to ProPublica.org, SOPA and PIPA was opposed by 31 members of Congress and supported by 80 prior to the internet blackouts on January 18. One day later and the number had shifted, with 65 supports and 101 opponents.
While both bills obviously pertained to the United States, the American presence of widely used sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google means the carry over would certainly have an effect on how Canadians use the internet. What’s important to remember in all of this is that protests and opposition towards both acts weren’t to stop things like the Megaupload indictment from happening. Internet piracy is not being legalised because both SOPA and PIPA have been put on the shelf. What was being fought for was the right to fair use. More importantly, the fight was to prevent media conglomerations from arbitrarily shutting sites down based solely on accusations.
What’s important now is for Canadians to take note of the copyright issues currently affecting us. PIPA’s dead indefinitely and SOPA’s on the shelf, but ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) is still very real. Whether or not you agree with it is something you’ll have to take note of before it, like SOPA and PIPA, becomes a very harsh reality. Before you fight to save the internet, use it to understand what you’re saving it from.