U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) announced on Friday that he is postponing the Senate’s vote on the Protect IP Act, or PIPA, originally scheduled for January 24.
Senate postpones PIPA vote
The Senator broke the news on Twitter by stating, “In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP.”
He followed that up with a full statement:
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.
Public concern over PIPA, and the House of Representatives sister bill, SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, took on a new focus earlier this week when many popular websites such as Wikipedia and Reddit replaced their usual content with information about the bills and their potential to hinder free speech online.
Supporters of the bills claim they will stop the online theft of intellectual property, although opponents say they will instead end free speech online and make it far too easy to get websites shut down or censored without due process.
Internet service providers and online search engines would be required to block access to sites that host or link to other sites suspected of copyright infringement, and unauthorized streaming of copyright-protected content would be a felony offense.
The House of Representatives temporarily shelved SOPA following President Barak Obama’s public concerns over censorship and security issues. That bill, however, isn’t dead and will be back in the House Judiciary Committee’s hands come February.
Public pressure hasn’t stopped the government from moving forward with the SOPA and PIPA bills, but it seems to have at least slowed legislators down. Organizations such as American Censorship are offering to help voters tell law makers that they don’t support the SOPA bill, as are Wikipedia and Google.