2012-07-10 "Let The Judiciary Committee Know That Creating A Mini-SOPA Without Public Participation Is Unacceptable"
Yesterday, we wrote about how Lamar Smith was rushing through a new bill that looked to approve a piece of SOPA that would spend taxpayer money to expand the diplomatic corp with a bunch of people whose job it would be to spread Hollywood's special copyright interests around the globe... and to set up a special agency for this in the Commerce Department. Despite the public rebuke Lamar Smith got for his efforts to write SOPA in secret and then to rush it through, he apparently didn't learn much and chose to do this bill the same way. It was put on the schedule to be marked up without the bill even being announced -- basically a way to rush it through in secret [http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120709/12574819634/lamar-smith-looking-to-sneak-through-sopa-bits-pieces-starting-with-expanding-hollywoods-global-police-force.shtml].
It appears that this plan is falling apart. The markup did not happen this morning, and we're hearing that support for the bill is wavering. Some of the named co-sponsors have made it clear that they're just as unhappy that the bill was being rushed out this way without public comment and were uncomfortable with some of the specifics in the bill -- and that these concerns mean that the bill may actually be delayed. It may be a very temporary delay, but it does sound like some of the "co-sponsors" may have changed their minds and won't be supporting the bill. And, for the time being, the markup has been called off.
There is still a lot of back and forth going on, and it's still important to speak up. Public Knowledge pointed out that the House Judiciary Committee and Lamar Smith need to learn that secret bills are a non-starter [http://www.publicknowledge.org/blog/secret-bill-pushes-part-sopa-and-wastes-your-], and they're absolutely right.
Before getting to the substance of the bill, perhaps the most shocking thing about it is how it is being handled by Committee Chairman Smith (who was a driving force behind SOPA). If Congress learned no other lesson from SOPA and PIPA, you would think that they got the message about not developing IP-related laws in secret. But you would be wrong. This bill leaked, fully formed, over the weekend and was scheduled for markup today. Needless to say, this came as a surprise to just about everyone not directly involved with drafting it and provided a very limited opportunity to meaningfully participate in the markup process. Step zero for any new IP bill should be a transparent drafting process.
Given that this is still a highly fluid situation, if you're represented by any of the members of the House Judiciary Committee, you might want to give them a call and let them know that you opposed SOPA and you're shocked that the HJC might push through a piece of SOPA in a process that was even more secretive than the one for SOPA itself.