The controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (or SOPA) was derailed somewhat today as the House Judiciary Committee adjourned its second day of hearings on the bill without a vote to pass the bill out of committee, or a revised schedule for such a vote to take place. The stall in proceedings take place after a marathon committee session yesterday that ran for nearly 12 hours, and during which the bill's sponsors were repeatedly exposed for knowing virtually nothing about the actual workings of the internet, which SOPA would regulate at a fundamental level — the bill would authorize the Justice Department to order ISPs and search engines to pull foreign sites "dedicated" to copyright infringement out of the DNS system and search results. The committee faced particular criticism for only calling content industry representatives to testify but not hearing from any experts on internet engineering or network infrastructure, even as it faces widespread opposition from the internet industry: Google, Facebook, Twitter and others placed a full-page ad in the New York Times last month opposing the bill, and a similar open letter from pioneering internet engineers led by TCP/IP co-inventor Vint Cerf was published yesterday.
In the aftermath of that criticism and widespread coverage of yesterday's circus-like hearing, SOPA chief sponsor Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) has agreed re-examine the provisions that impact the DNS system and search results, but he's also vowed to resume hearings on "the earliest practical day" Congress is back in session. Considering the upcoming holiday break, that's likely to be well into January — by which time it's all but certain SOPA's extremely vocal opposition will have brought their chorus to dissent to a full-on roar.
We're planning to cover SOPA (and its Senate counterpart Protect IP Act or PIPA) in extreme detail in the weeks ahead — stay tuned.
Update: It looks like the Judiciary committee was just as aware of the vocal opposition as everybody else. Instead of waiting until after the holiday break, it has scheduled the next hearing for this coming Wednesday, December 21st. (via TechDirt, thanks Renwyk!)
BREAKING: Judiciary has scheduled the rest of #SOPA markup next Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 9 AM EST. #stopsopa #open #dontbreaktheinternet #ip— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) December 16, 2011