Policy Can Be Changed: PIPA and Protest

A couple of months ago, the web went dark in protest of the SOPA/PIPA legislation.  I wrote a post at the time over at CatholicMoralTheology.com blog.  In broad strokes, the legislation was aimed at trying to develop mechanisms for dealing with clear infringement of copyright that occurs online.  But in figuring out mechanisms to do so, legislators promoted policies that infringed upon legitimate use and set up pretty draconian enforcement schemes that some said would fundamentally damage the systems that the net is built on.  The RIAA and MPAA disagreed, but legislators quickly reversed course, perhaps realizing they were out of there depth.

Yesterday, Nate Anderson had a followup piece at Ars Technica that included this tidbit:

Today, PIPA co-sponsor Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) admitted that the legislative approach considered by Congress had gotten the balance wrong. One of his sons woke him up and asked “why I wanted to break the Internet and why Justin Bieber thought I should go to jail,” Coons said, as reported by The Hill.

“That was my first warning that we were not communicating effectively,” Coons added, but he went on the admit that the issues involved more than “communications.” Some bits of the more radical SOPA, in particular, “overreached” and “really did pose some risk to the Internet.”

We’ll see if the next legislation offers a better balance, or simply better communication/spin.  But it is gratifying to hear a legislator say, in effect, “we were wrong.”

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