16 Jan 2012 9 am eastern

Ding dong, SOPA is dead.

DING DONG, THE WITCH IS DEAD. For now, at least, the “ill-conceived lobbyist-driven piece of legislation” known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is no more:

Misguided efforts to combat online privacy have been threatening to stifle innovation, suppress free speech, and even, in some cases, undermine national security. As of yesterday, though, there’s a lot less to worry about.

…Though the administration did [not] issue a formal veto threat, the White House’s opposition signaled the end of these bills, at least in their current form.

A few hours later, Congress shelved SOPA, putting off action on the bill indefinitely.

Political Animal – Putting SOPA on a shelf

Filed under: Design, State of the Web, The Essentials, Web Design, Web Design History, Web Standards

34 Responses to “Ding dong, SOPA is dead.”

  1. Andreas Dantz said on

    Nice work. Now you Americans have to oppose PIPA.

  2. Foxionni said on

    Sweetness!

  3. Brian said on

    It’s not dead. It’s just on the back burner until the media coverage of it goes away then they are going to try to slip it back in un-noticed.

  4. Fred LeBlanc said on

    This is quite the exciting news for all of web-kind, but it’s worth noting that it’s important not to think this thing is dead and gone. In fact, if (when) it does come back, it most likely won’t be all over the news, as all but CNN did little if no coverage at all on it when it was going at full steam.

    We still need to keep an eye on the rest of what Congress does. Lord knows they like to sneak “little” provisions into completely unrelated bills. Maybe it becomes the back-end of a “free food for the hungry” law, to which they’ll say, “What, you don’t want to feed the hungry? How un-American of you.”

    Anyway, good on all of us for now, but we should keep our eyes collectively peeled. I have a feeling that Hollywood isn’t going to go this quietly into the night.

  5. opl said on

    Rest In Hell, SOPA.

    What about PRotect IP?

  6. Henry Everett said on

    @Fred LeBlanc – Good point, but you can be sure that the republicans will vote strongly against a bill called ‘Free Food for the Hungry’, so that one’s safe at least.

  7. Lacey said on

    Yes!!!

  8. Brian Purkiss said on

    I agree with Fred.

    There will be an attempt down the line to sneak SOPA through and have it just bad enough to get through, but not bad enough to be vetoed yet still cause incredible damage.

    We must also make sure that PROTECT IP does not make it through, which would also cause considerable damage to the internet.

    The fight is not quite yet over. We must not falter nor let our guard down.

  9. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Fred, you are absolutely right. The price of internet freedom is eternal vigilance. The people behind SOPA will not go away; they have too much at stake — and internet piracy is a real problem. What if, instead of ignoring internet experts or treating internet folks as enemies, the people behind SOPA were to sit down with people who actually understand the internet to figure out what can be done? And what if they hired attorneys who are as knowledgeable about IP addresses as they are about IP law?

  10. Todd Prouty said on

    I’m concerned that some will see your headline or tweet, give a sigh of relief, and move on instead of realizing that the Protect IP Act (PIPA) still needs a stake driven through its heart. Right now it looks like they’ll postpone a vote until the short attention span of the American people moves on, perhaps make a few changes, and then try to push it through (http://bit.ly/xNncPi).

    Our senators still need to hear from us, through phone calls (best) and email: https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/s968.

  11. Fred LeBlanc said on

    @Henry — RDRR, but let’s remember how that party lines had nothing to do with support for SOPA. As much as this bill was a package full of evil, it was refreshing to see it all go down, because this is how congress is *supposed* to work. Wouldn’t it be great if more laws went through this? Then at least you’d know things were well thought out.

    @Jeffrey — I agree that piracy is an issue, I just don’t see it as one listed like congress folks (and even the White House) were describing it. Each said that piracy is costing Americans jobs. Is that true, or are they equating something like “each $30,000 not lost *could have been* one job?” I’d be interested in seeing a well-informed law (shaped by Internet experts and congress folks together) go for a vote in Washington. However, that cannot come at the cost of due process and freedom of speech.

    All of the “protections” against piracy I’ve seen so far do nothing but make it more inconvenient for people following the rules.

  12. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    All of the “protections” against piracy I’ve seen so far do nothing but make it more inconvenient for people following the rules.

    Absolutely. That’s why we don’t use any form of copy-protection on the ebook versions of our A Book Apart books. As we all know, a real hacker can get around any copy protection. Copy protection only inconveniences consumers who’ve paid for the product.

    Each said that piracy is costing Americans jobs. Is that true, or are they equating something like “each $30,000 not lost *could have been* one job?”

    Don’t even try figuring out what they meant. It’s a bogus claim. That missing $30,000 is part of an executive’s bonus, not an employee’s pay. SOPA was the real job killer.

  13. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    I’m concerned that some will see your headline or tweet, give a sigh of relief, and move on instead of realizing that the Protect IP Act (PIPA) still needs a stake driven through its heart.

    I know. I should have written a more guarded headline. (I saved my guardedness for the opening paragraph instead.) Rationale was, I wanted to really celebrate the killing (at least for now) of SOPA.

    But you’re right; WWII wasn’t over when Germany surrendered. There’s more to be done.

  14. Memi Beltrame said on

    Maybe pro-actively offering solutions may help. “Don’t make me steal” is a Digital Media Consumption Manifesto by and for people who are sick of this DRM/Piracy farce. Its idea: Give us easy, painless access and we will pay for your content.

    On the other hand: No way Hollywood is going to respond to that. Probably due to a lack of legalese.

    http://www.dontmakemesteal.com/en/

  15. Brent Logan said on

    Obama threatened to veto NDAA, and then didn’t. We celebrate premature victory at our own peril.

  16. AlastairC said on

    It is likely to come back, but as Tim O’Reilly said, they haven’t actually made the case that internet piracy is harmfull, it is an assumption. They should (have to) gather some evidence first.

    The irony is that if they spent half the lobbying budget (I heard $11m?) on a decent platform for selling films and TV, I’m pretty sure it would be a non-issue.

    If they do pass something like SOPA (under another name), how about an “I’m sparticus” response? Everyone posts a little bit of copyright content (each other’s even!) and so many sites get blacklisted either the system collapses, or people have to work around “that” internet.

  17. Zach Leatherman said on

    This temporary shelving grants us the reprieve to vote out everyone who supported it.

  18. David Zemens said on

    Good news, but I’m still transferring all my domain names away from GoDaddy.

  19. Tom DeForest said on

    Quoting Jeffrey: “The price of internet freedom is eternal vigilance.”

    I just want to add that this is the price of all freedom. We have not done a good job educating our citizens about the cost of maintaining freedom. Our founders achieved independence by committing to each other, “our lives, our Fortunes, & our sacred Honor”. That was not a one time fee.

    Huzzah! SOPA is dead (shelved). Let’s celebrate by committing to defeat all efforts against freedom.

    I’ll get off my SOPA box now.

  20. Andy Kinsey said on

    Our main concern in the uk is the growing desire of a stupid gov’t to want 2 tiered internet etc … there is bits of opposition from people like me and other web designers / developers but i fear not enough.

    we already have some stupid laws which means just as your govt can remove websites our govt can basically demand a court order to remove a website… its not a pretty world but at least with SOPA shelved for now in the USA similar things maybe put back a little over here giving us a chance to really try and pull some kind of movement together to stop the UK govt trying to kill the internet… David Cameron = Nicholas Sarkozy in terms of internet control …

    well i am sorry it is not your country, its not even a country. its a world in which we are all part and no single person, country or even multiples can control it – #longlivetheinternet @andykinsey

  21. Michael Kovis said on

    I could not agree more with what Fred Leblanc wrote above.

    This is just a small victory for us that have been opposing this bill like mad. We needed to start somewhere and this was definitely a great sign.

    I will say though, I can almost guarantee that many of the supporting corporations of SOPA and PIPA just don’t completely understand what these pieces of legislation could do to the internet as we currently know it. I believe that the desire and idea of stricter anti-piracy law negated educating themselves on what these bills could do. This was more than likely part of the cause for many corporations to flip-flop their stances, along with negative media attention (of course).

  22. frann said on

    The common way to get stuff through despite opposition over here in the UK is to shelve it (send it to a committee, maybe) for a few months or years, then bring it back when the heat’s died down. So it’s good to keep a weather eye on this, to ensure that this sort of sneaky tactic isn’t used to resurrect SOPA.

  23. Jim Berry said on

    That is indeed good news.
    David Zemens, I don’t know GoDaddy’s stand on this topic. However, I have all my domains at 1and1. I received an email from their marketing director 2 weeks ago saying that they strongly oppose such legislation. Just so you know.

    I have been a member and petition signer at SaveTheInternet.com for several years. And as crazy as it may sound, when they contact legislators on your behalf, they will actually write back to you.

  24. Ben Meissner said on

    While I am happy that SOPA is shelved for now, I do believe we need to remain vigilant about its future and that of PIPA.

    As Zach said above, “This temporary shelving grants us the reprieve to vote out everyone who supported it.” This is what really needs to happen. Other than campaign donations, the only thing Congress responds to is votes.

    I think this situation has awakened a segment of the population that is very passionate and we need to use that passion in other areas of legislation as well.

  25. Doodlekit said on

    Like Brian said – it’s not over, just delayed. We are shutting down all our free websites for the same 12 hour stretch as Reddit. We still need to bring awareness to this issue.

  26. Daniel Immke said on

    “What if, instead of ignoring internet experts or treating internet folks as enemies, the people behind SOPA were to sit down with people who actually understand the internet to figure out what can be done?”

    In my opinion, this is approaching the problem (a problem that I feel like is completely exaggerated, by the way. I don’t think the average consumer has the technical prowess to pirate media in a meaningful capacity beyond those “free streaming” websites and I certainly don’t believe piracy is hurting big media.) the wrong way.

    This short article definitely put into words a lot of what I’ve been thinking: http://radar.oreilly.com/2012/01/the-presidents-challenge.html

    Music/Movies/Gaming/Entertainment companies used to treat their customers like garbage. The internet (and digitization of things in general) has shifted the balance of power towards the consumer. Things like DRM/copy protection go completely against the nature of not only the internet but files in general, which is one of the reasons they’re almost always cracked within a month or two.

    Understandably, companies want the power back. Their problem is that the only way to close this pandora’s box of openness is to shut it completely. The internet in its current form *has* to go away, and SOPA is a symptom and would have been just the start. This seems obvious, but I feel like most of the people saying “piracy is a problem, we need to fix it” are missing this key factor.

    There isn’t going to be some miracle technology that somehow stops illegal filesharing but keeps everything else intact. Not only that, but with the ICE/HLS domain seizures and the fact that SOPA/PIPA were being given serious consideration by members of both legislative bodies, the government has shown it cannot be trusted with this at all. Any bill that comes to Congress will be tainted by lobbyists and business interests. For them to shift the onus of “fixing piracy” on us, or else they’re going to pass draconian laws written by lobbyists and passed by old men who couldn’t care less is INSANE and the internet at large needs to recognize this more.

    I would argue that it isn’t the internet that needs to be fixed to conform to old IP laws, but those laws need to be fixed to conform to the new reality of today’s world. That is why I think that every bill like this (even if it passes the muster of the internet community) should be vehemently opposed. They have made it clear that giving them anymore power is a problem. Unfortunately it took outrageous wording to finally mobilize people against this one bill, I’m worried a more mild bill won’t draw people’s ire enough to actually change anything. My great hope is that we can weather this “storm” of old morons until a younger crop gets into office that better understands how vital it is that the internet remain free. The shortsightedness and arrogance of it all is infuriating to me.

    The internet has changed the face of humanity, permanently. A lot of people don’t think of it that way but I do. Open dialogue and exchange of ideas means we can/are advancing so much faster than we have in the past. I think of all the civil rights movements currently taking place online or people overthrowing corrupt governments. People rethinking the ideas they were born with and encouraged not to challenge. It’s a new age of enlightenment, and the idea of hiding this light under curtain because it temporarily hurts some established industries is fucking terrifying.

    Putting that aside, there are SO many ways to not only continue to profit (which ALL of these companies are still doing in spades even using their old model) but *thrive* in this new space. My favorite example is Gabe Newell’s Steam and Spotify (games and music.) Both of them created platforms that make it much easier to use than pirating, and as a result have become hugely successful. I’m just hoping we can keep beating off these attacks until the entertainment industry learns these lessons or is usurped by people that know these lessons.

  27. Robin Massart said on

    @Jeffrey

    “And what if they hired attorneys who are as knowledgeable about IP addresses as they are about IP law?”

    Is there such an attorney?

    Techies tend not to make good lawyers. Technology is mostly about black and white. Whereas law is just a messed up steaming pile of poo purposefully desgined such a way to make it unintelligble to anyone who’s not a lawyer.

  28. GP said on

    Dead-on: “That missing $30,000 is part of an executive’s bonus, not an employee’s pay. “

  29. Thomas said on

    1. There is a possibility that they’re just waiting for something important to happen such as 9/11 and while everyone is distracted the bill will be passed.

    Example: When did Barack Obama sign the bill that allows every American to be captured and tortured without giving a reason? On New Year’s Eve, when you were partying.

    2. This whole SOPA situation is presented as offline media networks (Disney, Sony…) VS online business (Youtube, Reddit…) but the politicians aren’t just oblivious referees. They now have a chance to get funding for their insanely expensive campaigns by wealthy online giants Facebook and Google. So far they got away without the massive contributions senators are used from Disney and co.

  30. So is SOPA Dead? « Freedom Is Just Another Word… said on

    [...] For Now – Zeldman.com DING DONG, THE WITCH IS DEAD. For now, at least, the “ill-conceived lobbyist-driven piece of legislation” known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is no more: [...]

  31. Theo said on

    It may be the first step but i think it is huge one so we should celebrate it!

  32. Alexandre said on

    Dear Zeldman, what a great victory! Sopa (soup in portuguese hehehehe) is dead! Thank You Obama and the rest =D

  33. Gaurav Mishra said on

    So i will be getting as usual soap.
    but not that soap, which gave a both to congress… by the name #sopa

  34. Mike said on

    I am not from US but this SOPA could real disaster for the most of the world not just US. Luckily this SOPA thing is almost dead.

    But as large record labels and movie producers lost fight with SOPA I think there will be more cases like Megaupload. Of course megaupload was doing very shady things, but once the large pirates will be removed from the way I think it won’t stop there and some more legit site will be shot as well just because they were not paying enough in copyright fees.

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