The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) suffered a pair of blows over the weekend, as the White House spoke out against the specifics of the bill and sponsors said they would strip the legislation of a provision requiring Internet Service Providers to use DNS to block access to overseas sites accused of piracy.
The news follows widespread objections to the proposed law from members of the technology community. Opponents say it goes too far by allowing the shutdown of sites accused of enabling copyright violations, which get an expanded definition under the bill.
Despite those developments, SOPA and the related Protect Intellectual Property Act remain alive, and opponents are still planning to black out their sites on Wednesday. In the Seattle region, events are also planned on Wednesday in downtown Seattle, South Lake Union and Bellevue to help raise public awareness and coordinate the opposition to the bill.
“Our goal will be to talk to people on the streets, educate them about the dangers of SOPA/PIPA, and then convince them to take out their cell phones and call their Senators and Representatives right there, on the sidewalk,” explains organizer Zac Cohn in a blog post.
The post continues, “Congress in the process of rushing through legislation which will not only severely damage the Internet as a marketplace and platform for entrepreneurship and open innovation, but will also seriously impact the ability of our Seattle tech community to continue to generate jobs, grow and flourish.”
Ben Huh of Cheezburger said a short time ago on Twitter that the popular network of comedy sites still plans a blackout on Wednesday to bring attention to SOPA and encourage its millions of readers to contact lawmakers about the issue. Huh explained his position in an interview last week with KING-TV, saying that the bill “has to be killed in its entire form.”
Wikipedia and Reddit are among other major sites planning Wednesday blackouts.
In their blog post, White House officials encouraged opponents and supporters of the bill to come up with alternative approaches.
“While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet,” they wrote.
More background: Stop Online Piracy Act bill status and summary.