SOPA, PIPA Put On Hold After Stiff Opposition

Posted by at 5:54 pm on January 21, 2012

Both Congress and the Senate have delayed votes on their joint controversial Senate majority leader Harry Reid has stated that he decided to at least delay the vote on the controversial Protect IP Act (PIPA). He explained it as a reaction to “recent events,” a euphemism for the widescale protests that turned numerous Senators against the bill.

The official didn’t want to rule it out altogether, acknowledging “legitimate issues” with the bill but raising the specter of possible job losses as making it imperative that some form of law was passed. “Americans rightfully expect to be fairly compensated 4 their work,” he said.

He didn’t give an estimate as to when the bill might get a new vote, if at all, suggesting to some that the postponement was a pretext for backing away without appearing to drop the bill too quickly to its MPAA and RIAA backers.

Congressman Lamar Smith, the primary supporter of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), has simultaneously decided to “postpone consideration” until a point at which there was a “wider agreement” on ending piracy. Like Reid, Smith didn’t have a timetable for any resumption or a definition of what that agreement would be.

Senate support still leaned in favor of PIPA as of Thursday, at 37 in favor to 22 against, but was now much less of a majority than in the past. Its Congressional equivalent SOPA, however, now saw a vast majority of House representatives in opposition at 100 against to 26 in favor. The Obama administration has said it would likely veto the bills, at least as-is, under the claims that they would violate American principles and the concept of an open Internet.

The about-faces from Reid and Smith are also believed to have come now that they couldn’t try to dismiss or sidestep concerns about PIPA and SOPA, as they had in the past. Both grassroots opposition and public campaigns by Google, Wikipedia, and thousands of others of sites are believed to have educated millions of Americans about the concerns of DNS-based censorship and lack of due process inherent to either bill. Activism on January 18, a planned day of action, was so high-pitched that it got 4.5 million petition signatures at Google alone and jammed the phone lines and websites of politicians who were in favor of either measure.

Much of the initial support for the bills had been leaning on the assumption that piracy was costing movie and music studios billions of dollars in lost potential sales and the job cuts that would presumably follow. A $6.1 billion figure sometimes trumpeted by the MPAA has been called into question as it was generated by an MPAA-commissioned study with secret formulas. The figure also counted international piracy regardless of where it was located, only some of which would even be covered by the SOPA or PIPA bills.

Arguments that media outlets were facing devastating losses from piracy rang hollow after album sales began climbing again in 2011. Movie theater revenue dropped, but it didn’t necessarily lead to significant losses with discs and digital picking up some of the slack.

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