from the clock-ran-out dept
So this was a bit of a surprise. Lots of people expected Lamar Smith to keep the SOPA markup process going until he could get a vote out, even if it was late tonight. But it looks like he ran out of time. With Congress settling it's other business and closing up shop, Smith abruptly ended the markup, saying they'll resume at the next available date -- which likely won't be until late January. They only had time to go through two amendments, the second of which was withdrawn. That was from Rep. Chaffetz who asked that the DNS/IP blocking sections not be put into effect until after a thorough analysis was done by experts on their impact on online security. Somewhat surprisingly, Smith seemed willing to agree to something like this. He came close to suggesting that perhaps they should, in fact, have hearings with some of these experts concerned about the internet blocking part of SOPA (perhaps because he realized that SOPA wouldn't get voted on today). Of course, now we'll have to see what actually happens.
In the meantime, this represents a very brief, but significant, victory for those in favor of internet freedom and against internet censorship in the US. Have no fear, however, that Hollywood and the US Chamber of Commerce will be pushing very, very, very hard to get SOPA approved as soon as possible. This fight isn't over by a long shot, but there does appear to be a brief and thankful reprieve. The momentum is also on the side of those opposed. When PROTECT IP came out early this year, it was seen as a slam dunk. Congress would bend over backwards to grant Hollywood its wishes. The fact that it's getting pushed into the new year is big, big news. On top of that, people have really jumped up on this one. The grassroots efforts have been amazing -- as an issue that normally gets little attention (copyright) has become a very mainstream issue in a matter of months. We keep hearing about SOPA from random and surprising places. This needs to keep up and Congress needs to learn that giving in to Hollywood's short-sighted whims isn't going to go over well with the public.
Update.... Or not. Despite the fact that Congress was supposed to be out of session until the end of January, the Judiciary Committee has just announced plans to come back to continue the markup this coming Wednesday. This is rather unusual and totally unnecessary. But it shows just how desperate Hollywood is to pass this bill as quickly as possible, before the momentum of opposition builds up even further.