SOPA Anti-Piracy Bill Withdrawn

Congressman who proposed Stop Online Piracy Act pulled it just days after massive Internet protest.

Two days after protesters staged a massive online blackout to protest the House of Representatives’ Stop Online Piracy Act, the Texas Congressman who proposed the bill withdrew the measure from consideration.

In a statement released on Friday (January 20), Rep. Lamar Alexander announced that he was postponing consideration of the bill in light of concerns from critics who said it could lead to censorship of the Internet.

“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” Smith said in a statement, according to The Washington Post. “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.”

Alexander’s action came after more than 115,000 sites participated in Wednesday’s protest and Congressional support for the act — and its Senate doppelganger, PIPA — began to deteriorate. According to reports, before Wednesday’s action, SOPA/PIPA supporters outnumbered opponents 80 to 31, but within 24 hours of the online blackout the numbers had flipped to favor opponents 101 to 65.

Holmes Wilson, the co-founder of the anti-SOPA group Fight for the Future, issued a statement in light of the postponements on Friday morning that read, “We sent the MPAA back to the drawing board. But any law that lets the copyright lobby block our websites, censor our search results, or cut off our PayPal accounts — without even going through a judge — will be soundly defeated.”

As Alexander withdrew his act, Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid announced he would postpone a vote in the Senate scheduled for next week to re-think the measure’s wording in light of concerns from companies including Google and Wikipedia.

“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. We live in a country where people rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for a day’s work, whether that person is a miner in the high desert of Nevada, an independent band in New York City, or a union worker on the back lots of a California movie studio.”

The White house had already gone on record as not supporting the bills as currently written, saying that while it shares Congress’ concerns about online piracy, it will not sign off on legislation that “reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovated global Internet.”

Editor’s note: Viacom, the home of MTV Networks, continues to be in support of SOPA.

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