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?