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It is not a secret anymore: digital technology is transforming copyright, for better and for worse. Infringement is widespread and this situation needs to change. An attempt has already been made in the past. In 1998, congressional enactment of the “anti-circumventions” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was a remarkably forward-looking effort to stop copyright infringers and balancing interests of intellectual property (IP) holders and potential innovators. Since then, the Internet has evolved. The creation of a DMCA II was welcome. Instead of going through this “safe” next step, the United States Congress has embarked on a particularly slippery slope. As a result, bills are so repressive today and they may dictate the way the next technologies are going to operate, in whole or in part. The current reality that laws are incapable of catching the development of new technologies, based on the American comedy-drama film “Catch Me If You Can”, is perhaps not a fiction anymore. But not at any price, especially when it affects the Internet democracy.
In fact, the creation of a global legal framework for intellectual property right protection, particularly for (digital) copyright, needs to meet at least three challenges: the fact that laws change, that laws differ between countries, and that laws are open to interpretation. More precisely, cyberspace “demands a new understanding of how regulation works. It compels us to look beyond the traditional lawyer’s scope – beyond laws, or even norms. It requires a broader account of “regulation”, and most importantly, the regulation of a newly salient regulator.” SOPA and PIPA demonstrate how difficult it is for an established democracy to protect both intellectual property and the fight for the intellectual freedom on the Internet.
This research paper will be devised in five parts. The first part will analyze the legal issues of these controversial bills and more precisely the sections concerning copyright infringement. The second part will address how the OPEN Act might be a respectable middle in comparison to SOPA and PIPA and what are the legal solutions proposed in this bill. The third part briefly concerns the new method to prevent cyber-attacks, through CISPA, with its impact on intellectual property rights. The fourth part will discuss the recent developments in Europe with ACTA, namely the issues concerning the European ratification and the future of ACTA in the world. Finally, the fifth part will be devoted to the online and offline Internet revolution/Internet blackout that occurred in January and February 2012.