United States Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) announced before the weekend that he would remove a controversial provision from the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that would force Internet service providers to redirect Domain Name System (DNS) requests for infringing domains.
After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision. We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) also put out a notice stating that he was considering a change of heart on the provision, though he was much more ambiguous in his language.
As I prepare a managers’ amendment to be considered during the floor debate, I will therefore propose that the positive and negative effects of this provision be studied before implemented, so that we can focus on the other important provisions in this bill, which are essential to protecting American intellectual property online, and the American jobs that are tied to intellectual property. I regret that law enforcement will not have this remedy available to it when websites operating overseas are stealing American property, threatening the safety and security of American consumers. However, the bill remains a strong and balanced approach to protecting intellectual property through a no-fault, no-liability system that leverages the most relevant players in the Internet ecosystem.
The Domain Name Service is a way to turn TCP/IP connections—the way a computer actually connects to a network (i.e. the Internet)—into human-readable domain names. For example, if one were to connect to Yahoo without using the yahoo.com domain name, they would have to connect to 188.8.131.52. Critics of the bill argue that such a provision would undermine the integrity of the Internet at its foundation, while supporters argue that it is a necessary step to prevent piracy and keep jobs in America.
Hearings on SOPA were delayed from January 18th to the 23rd.
Analysis: Anyone who thinks this is a “victory” doesn’t understand how hay is made in politics. This is no victory, not even in the Pyrrhic sense. For one, Rep. Smith’s changes would be in the House bill only; these bills would have to be hammered out in committee before going to the President’s desk. Also consider Senator Leahy’s language: he’s saying the language should still be in the bill, just not implemented until the effects can be “studied.” I’m sorry, but I agree with Techdirt: this is only so that they can turn on the provisions at a later date, by which time it will be too late.
The tech industry is not fooled. I haven’t heard one person on our side who sees this for anything more than it is: a stall tactic. But this provision isn’t to keep the tech industry satisfied; simply put, the industry wants this dead, with explosions. Unfortunately, the tech industry doesn’t matter and neither do readers of ours or any other site. Provisions like this are to ensure that this gets enough votes to appear on the President’s desk where, for all of the Obama administration’s hemming and hawing, the President will surely sign the bill. Consider the fact that Vice President Joe Biden has historically been a very strong supporter of the content industry.
This and the delay to the 23rd are stall tactics meant to dampen enthusiasm and possibly get around the blackouts that are scheduled for Wednesday. I predict these bills will get passed all but completely intact with some form of enforced DNS blocking provisions. Where that leaves Gaming Bus remains to be seen.