February 3, 2012

OPEN Act to Replace SOPA and PIPA

So, how many of you out there breathed a sigh of relief when news broke that SOPA was postponed and PIPA was all but dead? Well suck that breathe back in because while those bills have been postponed for the moment the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act has been introduced.

The apparent goal of OPEN is to secure two fundamental principles. The first being that Americans have a right to benefit from what they've created. And second, Americans have a right to an open internet.

In contrast to SOPA and PIPA, large websites such as eBay, Facebook, Google, Linkedln, Twitter, Yahoo and a score of others have already registered their support for this bill. Many Americans though are still not convinced that this isn’t just another SOPA in disguise. So to quell the fears of many, Representative Darrell Issa (R-California), who introduced the Act in the U.S. House of Representatives on what will now and forever be known as ‘Dark Wednesday’, created a website, which displays the bill in its entirety and actually asks for people to comment on it.

The new legislation proposes giving greater jurisdiction over foreign websites to the International Trade Commission (ITC), rather than the U.S. Justice Department. OPEN also promises any websites that break piracy laws will have their due process as well as transparency in legal dealings.

Another large difference between the SOPA and OPEN is instead of being able to take down a whole website, like what was done to Megaupload even without these Acts in play; OPEN would allow ITC to only block the page with pirated material on it instead of penalizing an entire website our group of people.

It has been said by quite a few people that the very public take down of Megaupload was just proof positive that we do not need laws such as SOPA, PIPA and OPEN to combat against piracy. The FBI seems to be doing just fine without them.

While it’s still too soon to tell whether or not OPEN will be yet another way for the government to try to censor the technology world, the transparency with which they seem to be putting forth is a good start.

To be a part of OPEN and read the outline as well as comment on what you feel needs to be changed, go here.

For more information on OPEN and it’s progress thus far go here AND here.

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