US Congress puts brakes on anti-piracy bills
Washington, January 21, 2012
US lawmakers stopped anti-piracy legislation in its tracks, delivering a stunning win for Internet companies that staged an unprecedented online protest this week.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said he would postpone a critical vote that had been scheduled for January 24 on two bills 'in light of recent events.'
Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, followed suit, saying his panel would delay action on similar legislation until there is wider agreement on the issue.
'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,' Smith said in a statement.
The bills, known as Pipa (Protect IP Act) in the Senate and Sopa (Stop Online Piracy Act) in the House, are aimed at curbing access to overseas websites that traffic in pirated content and counterfeit products, such as movies and music.
The legislation has been a priority for entertainment companies, publishers, pharmaceutical companies and other industry groups who say it is critical to curbing online piracy, which they believe costs them billions of dollars a year.
But technology companies are concerned the laws would undermine Internet freedoms, be difficult to enforce and encourage frivolous lawsuits. Public sentiment on the bills shifted in recent weeks after Internet players ramped up their lobbying. - Reuters