Just hours after Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) announced he was delaying a vote on the PROTECT IP Act, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, followed suit and announced he would be delaying consideration of the companion legislation.
“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” Smith said. “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 Committee will continue work with both copyright owners and Internet companies to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property,” Smith continued. “We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem.” (He may want to check out our thoughts on the matter.)
Even former Senator Chris Dodd, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, seemed to concede defeat. “With today’s announcement, we hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property,” he said in a statement. “It is incumbent that they now sincerely work with all of us to achieve a meaningful solution to this critically important goal.”
The ideas present in both SOPA and PIPA may return, but both bills in their present form—and with their present names—are probably done for good.
A key figure in the fight against SOPA was Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA). Issa had planned to use his perch as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to highlight the flaws of SOPA’s DNS blocking provisions. He was planning to hold a hearing featuring the testimony of actual technical experts, something that had been mysteriously missing from Smith’s hearings on the bill. Wednesday’s Internet protests were originally scheduled to coincide with the hearings. But Issa scrapped his hearing after receiving assurances that the DNS provisions would be dropped from SOPA. The broader protest went forward anyway.
“Supporters of the Internet deserve credit for pressing advocates of SOPA and PIPA to back away from an effort to ram through controversial legislation,” Issa said in a Friday statement. “Over the last two months, the intense popular effort to stop SOPA and PIPA has defeated an effort that once looked unstoppable.”
“Postponing the Senate vote on PIPA removes the imminent threat to the Internet, but it’s not over yet,” Issa continued. “Copyright infringement remains a serious problem and any solution must be targeted, effective, and consistent with how the Internet works.”