SOPA and PIPA placed on hold

By Steve Watts, Jan 20, 2012 12:45pm PST

The US Senate's Protect IP Act (PIPA) and House's Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) have been put on hold following a large-scale Internet protest on Wednesday. Several Web sites including Wikipedia had a voluntary black-out, alerting users to contact their representatives regarding the controversial legislation.

"In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote on the PROTECT IP Act," said a statement from Senator Harry Reid (D-NV).

The BBC reports that in response, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued a statement of his own: "I have heard their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. 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."

While Smith argues that it is important to protect copyright-holders, he notes that the committee will postpone consideration until they can find "wider agreement" on the correct way to deal with piracy.

A few of the bill's co-sponsors also withdrew support on Wednesday, joining other companies like Nintendo, EA, and Sony who had dropped support upon pressure from vocal opponents. The Electronic Software Association, the industry's trade association, is still listed among the bill's supporters.

Meanwhile, Computer World reports that Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has reacted sharply to the audacious decision of Congress to listen to their constituents. "I understand and respect Majority Leader Reid's decision to seek consent to vitiate cloture on the motion to proceed to the Protect IP Act," said a statement from Leahy. "But the day will come when the Senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem."

The legislation has been controversial for its ability to censor the Internet, giving companies the power to cut off revenues or blacklist the URL of a site that infringes on copyright. Critics say that stopping piracy is important, but the proposed legislation overreaches.

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