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Saturday, January 14, 2012
DNS Blocking Provision Removed From SOPA


The controversial antipiracy bill SOPA will no longer include a provision that would require Internet service providers to block access to overseas Web sites accused of piracy.

It looks that proponents of the Internet Blacklist Bills are finally beginning to realize that they won't be able to ram through massive legislation without a fight. First, Sen. Patrick Leahy, sponsor of the PROTECT-IP Act (PIPA), announced on Thursday that he would recommend that the Senate further study the dangerous DNS blocking provisions in that bill before implementation. Then, a group of six senators wrote to Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, urging that the Senate slow down and postpone the upcoming vote on PIPA. Sen. Ben Cardin, a co-sponsor of PIPA, also took a measured stance against the bill, saying he "would not vote for final passage of PIPA, as currently written." Cardin cited consituent activism as the primary reason for the about-face.

On the House side, Rep. Lamar Smith, sponsor of PIPA's dangerous counterpart, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), announced today that he would completely remove the DNS blocking provision from the House bill.

The ISP provision in SOPA allows the U.S. Department of Justice to seek court orders requiring service providers to block subscriber access to foreign sites accused by the DOJ of copyright infringement. That provision would be removed, but remaining in the bill would be provisions allowing the DOJ to seek court orders requiring search engines to remove links to sites accused of infringement and requiring online advertising networks and payment processors to stop doing business with the accused sites.

The bill would also allow domain-name registrars to block the foreign websites' IP addresses on U.S. servers, and it would allow copyright holders to seek court orders against ad networks and payment processors.

"It's heartening to see Congress take steps in the right direction, and it wouldn't have happened without the work and commitment of the many internet communities who have rallied to fight these dangerous bills. We should be proud of the progress we've made," commented the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

However, both bills still contain fundamental flaws that may be threatening the freedom of speech and the future of the Internet. In addition, the legislation, if made law, will do little to stop online infringement - its main goal.

Both SOPA and PIPA bills are heavily supported by a wide group of copyright owners, including the big record companies and Hollywood film studios. The tech sector has claimed that if the bills became law, they would turn rob the Web of free speech and damage the health of the Internet.


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