Chris Dodd, Chair of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) was quoted yesterday as saying he is "confident" negotiations for a SOPA revival are taking place. While it's tempting to write off that confidence as the result of watching one too many zombie movies, it should be no surprise that the MPAA is pushing for a new backroom deal.
It was just months ago that the unprecedented Internet blackout protests stopped SOPA and PIPA in their tracks, but even then Dodd said that Hollywood studio heads and the leaders of major tech companies should be the ones to sit down and hammer out a new agreement. Ignoring the role of Internet users in any proposed solution is irresponsible, but to do so after millions of them spoke out in unison borders on willful blindness.
Since January's protests, Internet users have been clear and consistent about rejecting backroom deals that would undermine their online freedoms in misguided attempts to preserve legacy business structures. Tens of thousands of people have protested in the streets of Europe against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), for example, and an offshoot of the online community Reddit is campaigning to unseat SOPA author Lamar Smith with a primary challenge.
But the MPAA and its allies have been unwilling to chart a new course. They continue to count on deals crafted without user feedback, like the voluntary "graduated response" agreement with major American ISPs set to roll out July 1. Had users been represented in the negotiations, that agreement might have looked very different. As a starting point, thousands of folks are calling on their providers to publicly affirm that they will never terminate a customer's account under this new program — and we've set up a page where you can ask participating ISPs to make that commitment.
Dodd has said he doesn't want to "revisit the events of last winter," but if his organization continues to rely on shady dealings and exclude users from the discussion, it's bound to happen. Users have found their voice, and will continue to use it.