OPEN: A challenger appears to SOPA and PIPA

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By Joshua Ostrer

Nearly two weeks after the Reddit-inspired service blackout of Wikipedia as well as over 7,000 websites in protest of SOPA, progress is still being made. One attempt at a more reasonable approach to copyright enforcement has been proposed by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA). That attempt is the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN). OPEN is much more than just a reworded version of SOPA.

The OPEN act stands by two central principles: “First, Americans have a right to benefit from what they’ve created. And second, Americans have a right to an open internet. Our duty is to protect these rights.” While SOPA, proposed by the House of Representatives, and PIPA, proposed by the Senate, each only protect the rights of artists and apply due process to judge infringement claims, OPEN goes a few steps further. According to OPEN’s website, OPEN protects against new internet police power, secures safe harbors for legitimate internet businesses, protects access to social media and legitimate websites, ensures intellectual property cases are resolved by IP experts, targets actual criminals such as foreign rogue websites, supports innovation, and is consistent with American calls for open internet in closed societies.

OPEN, in stark contrast to SOPA, is supported by both Facebook and Google, two gigantic internet service providers who strongly opposed both SOPA and PIPA. The OPEN act has also embraced some very new methods for drafting its final version. The bill is open for anyone to edit online. Using a program named Madison, anyone who visits keepthewebopen.com (The OPEN act’s official website), can edit, comment and make suggestions for the bill. This level of public involvement in the writing of a bill is unprecedented, and since the website has been made available, users have made 68 suggestions and 36 comments on specific wording of over half of the bill.

The OPEN act’s website is also setting itself apart through its use of social media integration. You can “like” the bill as well as re-tweet it from the website itself. The bill also has its own hash-tag on twitter, #OPEN. Hopefully, this newfound embrace of social media and collaboration will carry over to other legislative issues in the future. If you are interested in contributing to OPEN, you can easily set up an account at keepthewebopen.com with nothing more than your name, email and zip code.

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