Further debate on the Stop Online Piracy Act, which has been labeled as an attempt at internet censorship by a variety of online service providers, has been pushed back to early 2012.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (known to its friends as SOPA) is a controversial piece of legislation which spent the latter parts of 2011 meandering its way through Congress, attracting derision from all corners of the internet as it went. The debate continued right into this week, with no side making any real progress. As such, any futher debate on SOPA has been pushed back until the Congressional festive hibernation period ends in January 2012.

In a way, this is good news; the delay will give organized opponents of the legislation more time to fine-tune arguments and points from internet engineers, lawyers, and others. Said opponents include Google, Facebook, YouTube, Reddit and just about every other major internet service which derives a large chunk of its content from users posting or reposting film or music clips without the express permission of the copyright holder.

For the most part, these companies are upset that in addition to having the potential to put them out of business and make posting copyrighted material a felony, SOPA could also break the entire internet.

The sadder side of this news appears to be no one side has yet gained any traction over the other, leaving the debate a deflated, sighing mess. According to the Washington Post, Representative Mel Watt (D-N.C.) became so irritated with opponents of the bill requesting hearings with internet engineers that he “tactically” forced a clerk spend 45 minutes reading the bill out loud. Even more worryingly, Watt is reported to have said later in the debate that, “A lot of money has been floating around on a lot of different issues…It’s not worthy for us to be talking about who got bought off by whom.”

SOPA is offensive to much of what we internet users take for granted, mostly the way we’ve become used to sharing our favorite snippets of copyrighted media without having a law like SOPA destroy the websites we use to share such things. If you’d like to add your voice to the those opposing the bill, you can find the anti-SOPA petition right here. Thanks to the holiday break, you now also have an extra few weeks to contact your Representative and inform them of your feelings as regards the legislation.

Source: Washington Post

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