Facing widespread opposition to anti-piracy legislation in the U.S. House and Senate, lawmakers have decided to postpone action on the measures.
The latest developments “essentially kill” the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate, according to the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank.
Harry Reid, the Senate Majority leader (D-NV), on Friday said he decided to postpone a vote on PIPA that had been scheduled for next week.
“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved,” Reid said in a statement. “Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices.”
Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who is the main author of SOPA, said the House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the bill, The Washington Post reported.
I have heard from the critics, and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” the Post quoted Smith as noting in a statement. It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”
Lawmakers capitulated after the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and other websites shut down for a day to protest legislation that critics asserted would stifle innovation and hurt free speech. Major companies, including Facebook and Google, also voiced opposition to the bills.
The protests were high effective: Wikipedia, for example, reported that its page about the bills was accessed 162 million times during its 24-hour blackout of its content while eight million people looked up their elected representatives’ contact information through Wikipedia. And more than seven million people reportedly signed a Google petition to oppose the legislation.
The protection of intellectual property and copyrights is just as vital in the digital economy as in the brick-and-mortar world. And piracy of music, movies, and software is a crime that must be enforced against to ensure a healthy market that encourages and rewards creativity,” said The Heartland Institute’s Jim Lakely, Co-Director, Center on the Digital Economy, in a statement. But SOPA and PIPA were poorly written bills that took a sledgehammer to a problem that requires a legal scalpel. It was great to see Web heavyweights take a high-profile stand, and for good sense to so quickly prevail.”