United States Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) has announced via a press release that markups for the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) will begin in February, after a two week Republican and Democrat retreat.
Washington, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today said that he expects the Committee to continue its markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act in February.
Chairman Smith: “To enact legislation that protects consumers, businesses and jobs from foreign thieves who steal America’s intellectual property, we will continue to bring together industry representatives and Members to find ways to combat online piracy.
“Due to the Republican and Democratic retreats taking place over the next two weeks, markup of the Stop Online Piracy Act is expected to resume in February.
“I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property.”
Gaming Bus reported yesterday that the bill had been “shelved”, but that the bill was still a threat to go forward once protests died down. This confirms that this will be the case.
Reaction from the shelving of SOPA has been strong. The Motion Picture Association of America has declared that the most controversial part of the legislation, the provision that forces internet providers to “blacklist” the DNS services of listed rogue sites, is “off the table“, while simultaneously calling the planned “blackout” protests by reddit and Wikipedia on January 18th a “dangerous… gimmick” and an “abuse of power”.
DISCLOSURE: Gaming Bus has also joined the SOPA/PIPA blackout.
Analysis: Please note that the Entertainment Software Association, the trade group that represents the games industry, has spent over $190,000 in lobbying the passing of this bill, according to records filed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. I don’t have exact figures in front of me, but the MPAA and RIAA have spent many times that over the years in forcing Congress to enact laws that protect their interests. In fact, an RIAA lobbyist, in a stunning conflict of interest, is now a federal judge that is ruling on the same issues that she used to lobby. Their power reaches far enough that the United States government literally forced a similar piece of legislation through in Spain, on the threat of sanctions.
All of this maneuvering, and the dogged determination to protect their own industry, leads me to have to make a prediction: come Hell or high water, this bill will be passed eventually. If it’s not passed, then parts of it will be tacked onto other bills, in the same way John McCain had the controversial provisions of the National Defence Authorization Act – a critical bill that usually establishes the military’s budget – tacked on at the last minute. Lamar Smith’s position as the Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary makes him an extraordinarily powerful man, even by Congressional standards, and if this is something he wants passed, he will pass it. This doesn’t even take into account the fact that PIPA has over 40 co-sponsors, among them Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).
Passing laws that are unpopular with the population is what these people, officially the least productive Congress ever, are good at. The fact that this has even a smidge of bipartisan support in such a divided Congress proves that it’s likely going to pass, if only so people can show that they’re doing what they can to “save jobs”, which is more important to the average luddite who doesn’t understand the internet.
Brace yourselves, folks. It’s going to happen, it’s just a matter of time. That doesn’t mean we can’t go down swinging, though.