Congressman Darrell Issa Unveils Crowdsourced Anti-Piracy Bill

Congressmen Darrell Issa and Ron Wyden modified the OPEN Act, an anti-piracy bill, based on online suggestions

Call it creative peer pressure or a bill living up to its billing: on Monday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) unveiled the “crowdsourced” modifications to the Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, the anti-piracy bill he introduced with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). 

The modified bill is posted at KeepTheWebOPEN.com.

Issa and Wyden originally posted a draft version of the bill online Dec. 8, inviting the Internet community to offer suggestions and improvements. Of the reportedly 150 responses received, the Congressmen incorporated six of them into the bill, representing “the first-ever legislative markup truly open to the American public,” according to a statement from Issa’s office.

Also read: Sunk! How Hollywood Lost the PR Battle Over SOPA

Issa formally introduced the OPEN Act – including the user-generated improvements – in the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 18.

Issa told Roll Call that for this truly Democratic exercise his staff utilized “Madison” technology specifically designed to facilitate crowdsourcing.

“We developed Madison to empower those shut out from the process that produced SOPA and PIPA,” said Issa. “It is an ongoing experiment in direct digital democracy, but the introduced version of the OPEN Act is proof that crowdsourcing can deliver better bills and a more accountable government.”

The OPEN Act is considered the more palatable alternative to the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act, both of which are dead in the water after a tsunami of online protest effectively forced many on Capitol Hill to reconsider initial support of the bills.

Also read: Hollywood's Anti-Piracy Campaign Runs Aground

Major media companies and recording industries had lobbied hard for the legislation, but technology giants such as Facebook and Google actively opposed the bills.

Opponents say the medicine prescribed by SOPA and PIPA was far too strong and could have killed the Internet via censorship and providing too many with the ability to block or “disappear” sites deemed as infringing. The OPEN Act, on the other hand, would call upon the International Trade Commission alone to adjudicate disputes over whether specifically foreign websites are trafficking in pirated materials.

A spokesman from the International Trade Commission said Monday that while the organization is aware of the OPEN Act bill, its policy is not to comment on pending legislation.