Lawmakers Release SOPA Alternative

Earlier this month, lawmakers introduced legislation intended to serve as an alternative to the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill’s sponsors, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), are asking the Internet community to weigh in on the bill and suggest changes.

SOPA is intended to crack down on online copyright infringement. Tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo oppose the bill, saying that it would require them to essentially police the Internet, and could stunt the growth of innovation and job creation on the Web.

The Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act would expand the authority of U.S. International Trade Commission with respect to intellectual-property infringement complaints. Using the ITC’s intellectual property (IP) enforcement expertise, will make it possible “to go after legitimate cases of IP abuse without doing irreparable harm to the Internet,” Wyden said in a statement.

“It is our hope that proponents of other approaches won’t just dismiss our proposal, but will instead take this opportunity to engage us on the substance,” he added. “Yes, IP infringement is a problem, but the Internet has become such an important part of our economy and our way of life that it is essential for us to get the policies that shape its future right.”

How Would OPEN Work?

Under OPEN, U.S. copyright holders would be able to petition the ITC to investigate cases of illegal digital imports, using a process similar to the current process for investigating infringement cases involving physical goods. If an ITC investigation finds that a foreign-registered website is “primarily” and “willfully” infringing on the rights of a U.S. copyright holder, the commission would issue a cease-and-desist order that would compel third parties, such as payment processors and online advertising providers, to cease conducting business with that website.

What’s Next?

At, visitors can submit comments, suggest edits, and ask questions about the legislation. Visitor feedback will allow the lawmakers fine-tune the legislation, the lawmakers said in a press release.

In the meantime, I will continue to monitor the progress of both OPEN and SOPA.



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