Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX), author of the controversial SOPA congressional bill, said Friday he would move to strike the ISP-blocking powers from the proposed law. The Stop Online Piracy Act and its sister bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act, were written late in 2011 to help fight against online piracy and copyright infringement. However, many in the online world felt the law went too far, and pressure from places like Reddit.com and BoingBoing.net seems to have paid off with the announcement.
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, Smith said in a statement.
The bill maintains provisions that 'follow the money' and cut off the main sources of revenue to foreign illegal sites, Smith added.
The hardest part of stopping people from pirating content online is that they are often doing it from overseas. The ISP provision would have made it illegal to link to foreign Web sites that hosted illegal content. Furthermore, the provision would have had the unintended effect of punishing law-abiding sites because of what its users were doing. Web sites in the U.S. are protected from lawsuits over pirated content because of a so-called chilling effect those actions would unleash. Web sites would begin self censoring their content out of fear of being sued, thus infringing on their rights.
Additionlly, the provision, as its detractors were quick to point out, would not have even accomplished its intended effect because it would have been easy for users to get around its restrictions. While this one provision may be stripped from the bill, SOPA is still working its way through Congress, so more changes are likely. Let us know in the comments if you've had any hearty discussions with your friends/family about SOPA and what you think of the debate.