After the blackout on Wednesday, it seems that the political tides are shifting against SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act—as of this writing, there are now more members of Congress in opposition to the bills than in favor. That’s good news.
I wil reiterate something I said on Twitter, though: the members of tech community, particularly those who are intimately familiar with the basic protocols of the Internet, need to keep working on ways to counteract SOPA/PIPA. What form that would take, I’m not sure. Maybe a truly distributed DNS system, one that can’t be selectively filtered by any one government or other entity. I’m not an expert in the area, so I don’t actually know if that’s feasible. There’s probably a much more clever solution, or better still suite of solutions.
The point is, SOPA and PIPA may soon go down to defeat, but they will return in another form. There is too much money in the hands of those who first drafted these bills, and they’re willing to give a fair chunk of that money to those who introduced the bills in Congress. Never mistake winning a battle with winning the war. As someone else observed on Twitter (and I wish I could find their tweet now), the Internet community fought hard against the DMCA, and it’s been US law for more than a decade.
By all means, take a moment to applaud the widespread and effective community effort to oppose and (hopefully) defeat bad legislation. When that’s done, take notes on what worked and what didn’t, and then prepare to fight again and harder. Fill the gap between battles with outreach to your elected representatives and with efforts to educate the non-technical in your life to explain why SOPA/PIPA were and are a bad idea.
Days of action feel great. Months of effort are wearying. But it’s only the latter that can slowly and painfully bring about long-term change.