Upcoming Anniversary of SOPA Blackouts; Looking Ahead at the 113th Congress

BY Ali Sternburg
January 9, 2013

As the first anniversary of the January 18, 2012 SOPA blackouts approaches, and with a new session of Congress starting, there has been an increase in the usual pieces looking at the impact of the monumental anti-SOPA effort on future policymaking regarding the Internet and copyright.

Some of the recent articles include a piece in The Hill, another in IDG, and another in TNR, all featuring great quotes from diverse parties such as Rep. Zoe Lofgren, representatives from the offices of the Judiciary Committee on both the Senate and House sides, and industry stakeholders, including CCIA President & CEO Ed Black, talking about what they have learned, and what is to come.

The piece in The Hill quoted rights-holder representatives who have expressed very different approaches and goals for the year that do not look like they are currently gearing up for SOPA 2.0.  An RIAA spokesperson denied plans to advocate copyright enforcement legislation, and are instead looking ahead and promoting the marketplace for digital formats, and focusing on music licensing issues.  This is encouraging, as market-based solutions are preferable to legislative efforts, and will be an important development to follow.  An MPAA spokesperson confirmed plans for future anti-piracy initiatives, including potential legislative efforts.

These perspectives comport with CCIA’s expectations, as expressed by Ed Black in recent interviews.  Speaking with IDG, he agreed that Congress is “going to tiptoe in this area very carefully,” and will probably be wary of even the follow-the-money approaches that earlier may have been attractive.  However, while Congress may still be too spooked from SOPA to act on legislation again soon, Ed is not ruling out anti-piracy efforts, explaining to The Hill that CCIA’s “view has been the big content people are never satisfied, so it is always safe to assume that they will always be trying for something new and something more.”

An all-star CES panel yesterday confirmed these views.  While there was some cynicism about stakeholders such as consumer public interest groups and the tech industry always having to be on the defensive and prevent the status quo from getting worse, there was also talk of a positive innovation agenda, which was echoed again by Senator Ron Wyden’s excellent “freedom to compete”speech at CES today, where he addressed important policy priorities in intellectual property and related areas.

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