The drive to stop the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) seems to be working. On Saturday, the Obama administration criticized SOPA for potentially ”disrupting the underlying architecture of the Internet.” Now, The Hill reports that the controversial bill has been shelved. While SOPA was intended to go after websites that illegally offer copies of music, movies and TV shows, technology giants like Google, Facebook and Reddit have argued that the legislation will curtail innovation and freedom on the internet and mounted a huge campaign against it.
On Saturday morning, House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had promised him that the House will not vote on SOPA until “consensus” can be built:
“While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House. Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”
Shortly before Issa’s announcement, the sponsor of SOPA, Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), had said he would remove a provision requiring that Internet service providers block access to overseas websites accused of piracy, a major concession to SOPA opponents.
A former chair of the Consumer Electronics Association, Issa — a critic of the bill — had scheduled a hearing for next Wednesday to examine the “potential consequences of the bill’s site-blocking provision.” In his statement Saturday, Issa said he would cancel the hearing, following Smith’s decision.
The “focus of protecting the Internet” now needs to be on the Senate, Issa said, noting that Majority Leader Harry Reid has “announced his intention to try to move similar legislation in less than two weeks.” On Thursday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the sponsor of the Senate bill, Protect IP Act (PIPA), had said he was open to changes about the site-blocking provision — now, perhaps even more changes (including shelving PIPA too?) may follow.
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