Close SOPA and PIPA; OPEN the internet

After the Internet staged an impassioned battle against proposed and controversial American anti-piracy bills Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), which were being considered by the US – both bills have been halted for the time being, but there’s also a new bill on the block: OPEN Act.

On Jan. 18 as protests by websites against SOPA and PIPA reached their climax, OPEN Act – short for Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act – was introduced to the US House of Representatives.

OPEN Act is a very different bill from SOPA and PIPA, even though its purpose is to target and address the same issue — piracy and copyright infringement.

What makes OPEN Act different is its approach and presentation. Unlike SOPA and PIPA, The OPEN Act movement has a home on the Internet, where all the information regarding the bill is easily accessible. What is more, visitors to the website are encouraged to comment and edit – yes, edit  – the bill.

The website features a blurb under its “About” section that explains the Wikipedia like innovation allowing users to interact with the bill – a tool named Madison.

“We’re going further by actually opening up the legislative process with a new tool named Madison. You met Madison on the home page. It let you read, share and mash up the OPEN Act, helping us deliver more efficient, effective solutions to the problem of online copyright infringement,” reads the “About” blurb found on the OPEN Act website.

The website has a copy of the OPEN Act, in addition too copies of SOPA and PIPA, all as embedded documents in their respective pages. Beside each embedded document is a large red button labeled “participate” – this is the editing and commenting tool alluded to as Madison.

The website also has a page containing a large comparison table, contrasting OPEN Act, SOPA and PIPA. The table is reminiscent of a comparison table for a software program with different tiers of features and services.

If all this already doesn’t set OPEN Act apart from SOPA and PIPA, the biggest and probably most important difference can be found on the “Supporters” page of the website.

Google, one of the biggest detractors of SOPA and PIPA, is also a supporter of OPEN Act. Other high profile websites in support of OPEN Act include: Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo!.

With SOPA and PIPA halted and OPEN Act relatively new to the anti-piracy scene, it is hard to predict where the entire anti-piracy battle will go, and, how it will end. Yet for now it would seem that OPEN Act has the right idea, and will gain more supporters as people become more aware of it – simply because it is doing what SOPA and PIPA refuse to do: Listen to what the Internet has to say.