Posted: 19 Jan 2012 03:20 AM PST
One could say it is an all intellectual property edition of DLTJ Thursday Threads. How could one miss the outpouring of opposition to SOPA/PROTECT-IP? If that was an overwhelming story you might have missed the introduction of the Research Works Act that could end the open access mandates now at the National Institutes of Health and coming elsewhere. And because we need some good news, Internet2 announced a new electronic textbook pilot that could be really interesting.
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Support for Web Bill Wanes as Protests Spread
The population of the internet became very familiar with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT-IP Act (a.k.a. PIPA) today with major internet services like Wikipedia blocking access to its articles and Google placing a black rectangle over its logo. Advocacy sites like americancensorship.org and blacklist.eff.org and www.google.com/landing/takeaction sprang up to prompt U.S. citizens to call their Senators and non-U.S. citizens to petition the U.S. State Department to set in motion opposition to bills that once seemed inevitable. And all sorts of people took to Twitter to protest the fact that they couldn’t use Wikipedia to answer their homework.
It wasn’t all a one-way street, though. Former Senator Chris Dodd (and now MPAA chairperson) denounced the protests as “an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on [the sites] for information and [who] use their services.” House Judiciary Committee Chairperson Lamar Smith announced that his committee will resume consideration of SOPA in February. And PROTECT-IP Act sponsor Senator Leahy released a point-by-point rebuttal to some of the claims made by opponents.
At the end of the day, the protest clearly had an effect on the legislation as co-sponsors dropped their support of PROTECT-IP and others made statements opposing the bill. As this is being written on the evening of the 18th, the ProPublica lists 41 Senators supporting and 19 Senators opposing or “leaning no” (OpenCongress’ whip count lists it as 34 to 35 versus last night’s OpenCongress count of 39 to 16), so it is unclear whether there the 60 votes required to end debate and move for passage of PROTECT-IP in the Senate as promised by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
I’ve stated my objections to SOPA and my objections to PROTECT-IP, and reiterated them today by putting up an anti-SOPA/PROTECT-IP splash page on DLTJ. I also still think there is more to learn a few levels deeper than the anti-SOPA/PROTECT-IP advocacy. ProPublica has a project called Who in Congress Supports SOPA and PIPA/PROTECT-IP? that offers a variety of ways to categorize supporters and opponents of the legislation including an accounting of campaign donations by industry. On my own Stop-SOPA/PROTECT-IP page, I ask readers to look into Laurence Lessig’s #Rootstrikers movement. A big part of the disconnect and dysfunctional nature of public office holders is the role that campaign contributions play — or, at best, have the appearance of influence — in the public policy decision making. So while SOPA/PROTECT-IP opponents may have won the battle, there is much to do to win the war of undue influence that created SOPA and PIPA in the first place.
More Legislative Shenanigans: Research Works Act
Yes, that’s right — more intellectual property legislation in front of the U.S. Congress. This time it is a bill that would protect the business interests of academic publishers by preventing the U.S. government from mandating open access to federally funded research. An article in The Guardian (U.K.) paper says academic publishers have become the enemies of science. The twist here is that one of the sponsors of the Research Works Act is none other that Representative Darrell Issa, one of the leading opponents to SOPA in the House Judiciary Committee. As you might guess, campaign donations are involved and so there is a call from #Rootstrikers to help fight “SOPA v2″.
Internet2, McGraw-Hill, Courseload, and Five Universities Implement eText Pilot in Spring 2012
This is good news for students and etextbooks. It sounds like a good experiment and I’m eager to see the outcomes of the pilot. And something that might make next week’s DLTJ Thursday Threads? The rumor that Apple is expected to delve into textbooks in an announcement today.
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