Several of the largest Interent firms – including Google, Facebook and Twitter – are backing alternate legislation being proposed to the Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP Acts.
The OPEN act sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would allow the International Trade Commission to order online ad networks and payment processors to sever ties withe foreign websites that are targeted by patent infringement claims.
SOPA, and its Senate counerpart, PIPA, on the other hand, would force search engines and websites to block links to sites that are listed as being “dedicated” to copyright infringement. SOPA has been widely endorsed by traditional media companies, but Web firms and free speech advocates have likened it to government-enforced censorship.
“[The OPEN Act’s] approach targets foreign rogue sites without inflicting collateral damage on legitimate, law-abiding U.S. Internet companies by bringing well-established international trade remedies to bear on this problem,” AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo and Zynga wrote in a letter to Issa and Wyden in December.
The OPEN Act does have some flaws, and in some points parralells SOPA, as noted by technology and law blogger Eric Goldman. Goldman notes that, like SOPA, OPEN “assumes there is a problem with foreign rogue websites that needs to be solved…and more importantly, attacking the money supply to supposed bad actors remains too blunt an instrument.”
“While OPEN can’t really be fixed to resolve my two structural concerns, my hope is that the discussion about OPEN will force rightsowners to provide *credible* evidence of harms that they or consumers are suffering (no more self-serving hype, please), and that such evidence will force us to think carefully about how ‘rifle shot’ solutions (as opposed to shotgun solutions) can ameliorate those harms,” Goldman said.