The Ghost Of SOPA Has Come Back To Haunt Us In New Bill

    July 12, 2012
    Zach Walton
    Comments are off for this post.

It was pretty awesome to see the Internet come together to beat back SOPA and PIPA. It was one of the defining moments of the Internet, but many people knew it wasn’t over. Like the end of a particularly good film, the villain vows he will return for a sequel as he is cast into oblivion. Unfortunately, Rep. Lamar Smith just said SOPA three times and now a part of it is back in a new bill he’s sponsoring.

The bill is called The Intellectual Property Attache Act and it gives more power to IP attaches. According to TechDirt, these are the people who work with foreign governments to expand IP rules and enforce American copyright around the world. At face value, this sounds like a good thing. There are plenty of foreign countries that still deal in physical counterfeiting and piracy. An expansion to IP attaches might make their job easier.

Unfortunately, things are never that simple. The exact same expansion was presented in SOPA, but now it’s worse. The bill moves the IP attaches out of USPTO jurisdiction into their own agency. Their role under this new agency would be “to advance the intellectual property rights of United States persons and their licenses.” It wouldn’t be so bad if the bill was about working with other countries to create their own IP rules, but this is all about expanding American IP law to every other nation.

The worst part about this bill is that nobody knew about it until it was too late. We only knew about it on Monday and now it’s on the fast track through committee. If it’s anything like CISPA, they will push through a vote without considering any amendments to the legislation.

Another worrying aspect is that Rep. Darrell Issa, defender of the Internet and SOPA hater, is signed on as a sponsor for the bill. Issa was one of the strongest opponents to SOPA and PIPA when they were being trotted around in January and now he’s in support for what is essentially a chunk of what he was against. What gives? Speaking to TechCrunch, a spokesman for Issa said that the SOPA hater supports the bill because it helps “American individuals and companies that are experiencing intellectual property infringement in certain foreign countries.” He does, however, say that he will push to amend the bill with “clear IP exceptions like fair use” before it’s marked up.

To be honest, we could be over thinking this. The Internet seems to get pretty jumpy whenever Rep. Smith is brought up anymore and SOPA is still fresh in the minds of many people. Of course, it doesn’t help when the bill in question takes its cue straight from parts of SOPA. Will Rep. Smith try to push through other parts of SOPA in other bills if we let this one slide?

  • frank1234


  • Margo

    I applaud Rep. Issa in his efforts to protect those who are experiencing IP infringement abroad, and I think Americans need to take some time to rethink their shallow convictions. Bills that aim to protect intellectual property continue to resurface because copyright laws help artists and strengthen the U.S. economy; a solution to IP infringement needs to be found. SOPA may have earned a bad reputation, but automatically dismissing any bill because of association is ignorant and wrong.

    • anon

      copyright laws help the artsists you say? i think it is you who are ignorant.

      • John

        First, anon, it would help for you to back up that allegation of ignorance with facts. Of course, that would require a certain amount of research outside of the traditional “down with SOPA/PIPA/insert problem of the week here” blogs who make similarly baseless accusations. Here are the facts, copyright laws protect artists from having their intellectual property stolen. The protection of their intellectual property being, of course, protecting their livelihood. What those opposed to strong copyright protections for artists are saying is effectively that artists do not have a right to protect the livelihood of them and their families.

        If you don’t believe me, that is your prorogative. However, I would point you to a blogpost in Trichordist that outlines just how important intellectual property is to the music industry (in more specific detail, and backed up with the facts). This post, I might add, comes from an expert on the industry, and very deserving of your careful consideration.

  • Margo

    Furthermore, I think its worth clarifying that the IP attaché program isn’t actually new. The program was actually established in 2006, and what the bill actually does is give the PTO direct supervision over the program. So, this is hardly a sneak attack by Congress.

  • https://whyweprotest.net Anonymous

    We are not done yet…
    We are Anonymous and will shut down Facebook in November…