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SOPA Set To Return In Different Form

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been halted for the time being, but recent remarks suggest it is likely to return in a different form

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has been been killed off in the US Congress by Republican senators, after criticism from President Obama, but it seems that the legislation is likely to return in a different format.

The bill died on Monday, when Republican Representative Eric Cantor(R-VA) announced that he will stop all action on SOPA. As Cantor is the Majority Leader in the House, this means it is effectively ended.

SOPA Controversy

SOPA was hugely controversial because it would have required Internet companies to censor Internet links to sites deemed to be breaking copyright, and cut them off from services such as PayPal. It also faced criticism over the potentially severe consequences to the Internet’s structure, and for interfering with free speech.

Opposition to the bill came from the IT industry, including games makers, Microsoft and members of the anti-piracy Business Software Alliance. One company which supported SOPA, registrar GoDaddy, faced a consumer boycott losing 72,000 domains.

Back From The Dead

Whilst activists have celebrated the death of SOPA online, it is worth remembering that the US upper chamber, the Senate, is still working on a similar bill called PIPA. Indeed, it seems that a SOPA replacement is still actively on the cards and will be delivered as soon as a consensus has been agreed.

House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said last Saturday morning that Majority Leader Eric Cantor promised him the House will not vote on the controversial SOPA but would continue to work to build a consensus on new anti piracy legislation, he was quoted as saying in the media.

“While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” Issa said in a statement. “Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”

This effectively means that US politicians will continue to work on producing new anti piracy legislation, backed not doubt by pressure from the Hollywood studios. The US action over SOPA bears a close resemblance to the controversial Digital Economy Act (DEA) in the UK, although it should be noted that the UK’s DEA is a much more liberal version of SOPA.