SOPA and PIPA votes in Congress delayed

Just two days after the Wednesday blackouts of thousands of web sites to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), the US Senate and the US House of Representatives have announced they will delay the votes of both bills.

US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who previously was trying to push for a vote on PIPA on Tuesday, January 24 and who received $3.5 million in campaign donations from pro-PIPA groups, posted a statement today on his official web site saying:

In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.

There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved. 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.

I admire the work that Chairman Leahy has put into this bill.  I encourage him to continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans' intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the internet.  We made good progress through the discussions we've held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks.

On the US House of Representatives, or SOPA, side, a post on the House Judiciary Committee's web site by its chairman, Congressman Lamar Smith, states:

I have heard from the critics and I take seriously 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. 

The problem of online piracy is too big to ignore. American intellectual property industries provide 19 million high-paying jobs and account for more than 60 percent of U.S. exports. The theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.  Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while American innovators and job creators are under attack. 

The online theft of American intellectual property is no different than the theft of products from a store.  It is illegal and the law should be enforced both in the store and online.

The Committee will continue work with copyright owners, Internet companies, financial institutions to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property.  We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem.  The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.”

The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.

This move is a huge victory for those who organized the blackout protests on Wednesday, which were first started by Reddit and later were picked up by others including Wikipedia.

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