Friday, January 20, 2012


SOPA and PIPA postponed indefinitely after protest

@CNNMoneyTech January 20, 2012: 11:37 AM ET

Hundreds turned out for a New York protest against SOPA and PIPA, a pair of controversial anti-piracy proposals.
Hundreds turned out for a New York protest against SOPA and PIPA, a pair of controversial anti-piracy proposals.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When the entire Internet gets angry, Congress takes notice. Both the House and the Senate on Friday backed away from a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills, tossing them into limbo and throwing doubt on their future viability.

The Senate had been scheduled to vote next week on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) -- a bill that once had widespread, bipartisan support. But on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was postponing the vote "in light of recent events."

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives said it is putting on hold its version of the bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The House will "postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said in a written statement.

The moves came after several lawmakers flipped their position on the bills in the wake of widespread online and offline protests against them.

Tech companies, who largely oppose the bills, mobilized their users this week to contact representatives and speak out against the legislation. Sites including Wikipedia and Reddit launched site blackouts on January 18, while protesters hit the streets in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) drew more than 7 million signatures for an anti-SOPA and PIPA petition that it linked on its highly trafficked homepage.

The tide turned soon after the protest, and both bills lost some of their Congressional backers.

"I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns," Smith said Friday in a prepared statement. "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves."

PIPA and SOPA aim to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content. (Click here for our explainer: What SOPA is and why it matters.)

Backed by media companies, including CNNMoney parent Time Warner, the bills initially seemed on the fast track to passage. PIPA was approved unanimously by a Senate committee in May.

But when the House took up its own version of the bill, SOPA, tech companies began lobbying heavily in opposition -- an effort that culminated in this week's demonstrations.
Reid hinted that PIPA may not be dead yet, saying: "There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved." To top of page

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