Passage of the Stop Online Piracy Act could "have the effect of really shutting down the vibrancy of the Internet," Al Gore warned this week, according to Mashable.
Speaking to a crowd at a CareerBuilder, Gore joined the chorus of people who warn that the effort to ratchet back piracy could lead to censorship and a dulling of the Internet's innovative essence. Interestingly enough, the YouTube clip of Gore's remarks was quickly removed by the user who posted it.
Those warnings continue now, even with Congress inactive, CNN notes. The rumor that has garnered the most traction is that the heaviest of the heavy hitters are considering a strike to make the depth of their opposition to the bill plain.
Interest in the debate spiked again this week when one of the bill's opponents suggested that online heavyweights such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter had considered a "nuclear option" -- temporarily shutting down their sites in protest -- to raise awareness about the bills, which await lawmakers when they return this month.
When contacted by CNN, none of those companies would confirm that such a drastic move had ever been considered. By Friday, the advocate whose comments had fueled the speculation appeared to back away from claims that a Web blackout was still likely to occur.
"Internet and technology companies will continue to educate policymakers and other stakeholders on the problems with the (legislation)," Markham Erickson, director of Web trade associationNetCoalition, said in a statement. "An 'Internet blackout' would obviously be both drastic and unprecedented."
But they aren't the only adamant ones. Some SOPA opponents have pushed an alternative anti-piracy bill called OPEN (including Rep. Darrell Issa and Sen. Ron Wyden) that would alleviate some concerns by replacing the Department of Justice as the enforcement agency for its provisions.
Sayeth the music industry's chief lobbying group: No dice.
In a blog post on the website of the Recording Industry Association of America, as reported by The Washington Post, the organization's senior executive vice president, Mitch Glazier, derides the framework of OPEN, saying it wouldn't solve a costly problem for entertainment companies.
Why in the world would we shift enforcement against these sites from the Department of Justice and others who are well-versed in these issues to the ITC, which focuses on patents and clearly does not operate on the short time frame necessary to be effective? In addition, the remedy traditionally offered by the ITC – an exclusion order to prevent foreign criminals from accessing the US market – is precluded under the OPEN Act.
More proof why the OPEN Act is not a meaningful solution to a serious problem.
No deal appears likely, at least not yet.
Update: Thanks to a helpful reader, here's a partial transcript of Gore's remarks from Techdirt, made before the YouTube link came down. And the highlights are already in poster form, via Xander Davis and Alternareal Research.