U.S. Representative Lamar Smith reversed his position on the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, on Friday to follow Senator Harry Reid’s lead by putting the bill back on hold. Mr. Reid announced earlier on Friday that the Senate’s version of the bill, the Protect IP Act.
SOPA now on hold, just like PIPA
Rep. Lamar said in a statement,
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. 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. We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem.
Earlier Friday Senator Reid acknowledged public pressure, or at least “recent events,” pushed him into the decision to put off the scheduled January 24 vote on PIPA.
Government officials faced public criticism this week for their support of SOPA and PIPA. Supporters claim the bills will stop 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.
SOPA has had an on again, off again life over the past week ever since President Barak Obama publicly criticized the bill for its potential to censor the Internet. Rep Lamar put the bill on hold, then later added it back to the House’s February schedule. Now, however, it seems the bill is back on the shelf while law makers decide what to do next.
Announcements that both bills are on hold for now is good news for opponents to the legislation, although it doesn’t mean their fight to keep them off the law books is over. SOPA and PIPA are still undergoing changes and will likely see the light of day yet again once lawmakers find new wording they think will make the bills more palatable to the public.