Bob Goodlatte (R-6th) must be having a good cry after the loss of his latest pet project. As chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet, Goodlatte helped write that so-called anti-piracy act that spurred blackouts on web sites and a petition to Congress with millions of signatures opposing the bill. For now, votes on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate are dead in the water.
Harry Reid, reacting to the protests against PIPA, has postponed bringing it up for a vote (which means he doesn’t have the votes to pass it). In the House Lamar Smith, chair of the House Judiciary Committee, said he will not consider SOPA “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”
As Andrew Cohill of Design Nine in Blacksburg told The Roanoke Times about the bill from Goodlatte’s subcommittee, “The law is written so broadly that the federal government could literally shut down any website they chose to. That’s the problem with a poorly written law: It doesn’t matter what the intent is if it’s poorly written.”
Neither bill currently before Congress does what proponents say is their goal – protecting copyrighted works from pirates. Instead, the powers given to the government endanger the freedom of the Internet with the threat of arbitrary shutdown of sites. That sounds more like China than the United States. Back to the drawing boards, Goodlatte, or better yet, retire from Congress like you promised long ago.