Internet protest stalls online piracy bills in Congress
January 20th, 2012
11:39 AM ET
2 years ago

Internet protest stalls online piracy bills in Congress

Washington (CNN) - In the wake of a high profile and stunningly effective protest by some of the biggest brand names on the O(nternet, congressional leaders announced Friday they would shelve two online piracy bills that once had broad bipartisan support.

Top Democrats in the Senate have known for days that the bill was unlikely to survive the protest, which was supported by web mainstays like Google, Twitter, and Wikipedia. That became even clearer after the blackout of some websites Wednesday when a flood of lawmakers from both parties changed their positions and said they would no longer vote for the bill unless it was reworked.

The two bills – known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House – are backed by content providers like Hollywood studios and music recording companies. They complain they are bleeding millions of dollars every year because of illegal downloads of their copyrighted materials on the loosely regulated Internet and they lobbied Congress for stricter protections. Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, was one of the many major media companies supporting the original versions of the legislation.

In recent weeks, tech companies like Google became wary of the legislation's impact on Internet freedom and wanted changes to the bill. In particular, those companies don't like a provision that would allow courts to shut down access to web sites believed to be pirating content.

In announcing his decision to postpone a vote scheduled for Tuesday on whether to take up the bill, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he hopes a compromise will be reached in the coming weeks after protestors raised "legitimate issues" about the bill's impact on the workings of the Internet.

Negotiators must "forge a balance between protecting American's intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the Internet," Reid said in a statement.

"We all agree that we must do more to combat on-line theft of intellectual property," said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement. However, the PIPA bill "raised serious legal, policy and operational concerns," he said.

Congress will now "have the opportunity to study and resolve the serious issues with this legislation and prevent a counterproductive rush toward flawed legislation," McConnell said.
In the House, Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith issued a statement saying, "Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while American innovators and job creators are under attack."

However, he said his committee would "postpone consideration of the legislation until there is a wider agreement on a solution."


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Reid hinted that PIPA may not be dead yet, saying: "There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved."
    ===========================================================================================
    In other words, send the Democrats enough money this election cycle and they will do your bidding.
    How can this country seriously lecture China about not cracking down on piracy when they are not willing to do it here at home? If piracy is wrong and illegal for music, how can it NOT be for copyrighted video content?

    January 20, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. Dr Knowitall

    Oh, thats okay. Obama will just oder the FAA to do it anyway. Screw the letter of the law or the fact that it wasn't past.

    January 20, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  3. Victoria avgam54

    ahhhh The power of the people what a great thing...

    January 20, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  4. Victoria avgam54

    @DR you are mis-informed Obama siad he would veto this

    January 20, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Truth wrote:

    How can this country seriously lecture China about not cracking down on piracy when they are not willing to do it here at home?
    --------
    Do go sit in the corner and do your homework. The problem isn't piracy committed in the US, it is acts of piracy committed outside of the US jurisdiction in countries that do not even recognize copyright laws. In other words, US law cannot prosecute the people committing the acts of piracy.

    So, they wrote a law that would make it criminal to in the US to aid and abet acts of piracy. In other words, if a US based company posted links to rogue pirate web sites in foreign countries, then that US company would be subject to criminal prosecution.

    If you do a search for "download illegal song", and Google comes up with a hit, then Google would be liable for the same crimes as those actually committing the piracy. This would be like bandits robbing a bank, using a Ford as their escape vehicle, and prosecuting Ford for helping them carry out their crime.

    January 20, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. Kevin,FL

    Never piss off young people.. people in congress in who have no clue on how the internet works shouldn't go around making laws about the internet.. victory for us who's for internet freedom..

    January 20, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. Zack Taylor

    I still can't believe that the SOPA and PIPA legislations got more attention than the NDAA. I'm still waiting on that to even be featured on a mainstream media source.

    January 20, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  8. Hammerer

    There you go again, Rudy.
    Maybe you should do your homework and quit blowing smoke.

    January 20, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    So, they wrote a law that would make it criminal to in the US to aid and abet acts of piracy. In other words, if a US based company posted links to rogue pirate web sites in foreign countries, then that US company would be subject to criminal prosecution.
    =============================================================================================
    So aiding or helping piracy through search engines is legal and you want to keep it that way? So they can also aid and abet child pornograghers as well?? Do you expect truckers to know if they are transporting explosives and to not drive through major cities with them? Where DO you draw the line? Shouldn't copy right owners expect SOME protection? Under your scenario, everybody is just an innocent transporter that bears no responsibility for transporting illegally gotten content.

    January 20, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. Marcus

    Truth – There's nothing wrong with the idea behind SOPA and PIPA, the problem is how they were developed (their scope is too far, going beyond its original intent).
    Or if you prefer:
    Fight piracy and protect copyrights – Good.
    Do it the way SOPA and PIPA are proposing to be done – Not the right way to do the right thing.

    January 20, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Zack Taylor wrote:

    I still can't believe that the SOPA and PIPA legislations got more attention than the NDAA. I'm still waiting on that to even be featured on a mainstream media source.
    -----–
    If you understood the fact that a version of the NDAA gets signed each and every year and what it purpose it serves, then you wouldn't marvel at the trivial and the petty. Did the legislation contain language that made it legal for the US to operate the type of facility that we now as Gitmo? Yes. Did the Bush administration bother with doing that? No. Bush simply had a White House attorney write letter declaring it was legal so he could look at it aay, "What were are doing is legal. See? It says so write here." As if his handpicked attorneys were justices of the SCOTUS. Heck, GWB even tried to appoint one to the bench of the SCOTUS. Remember that?

    January 20, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Emperor Norton

    Under SOPA and PIPA as written, it essentially guts the Internet as it stands, shuts down any "Web 3.0" sites that rely on user-created content, and allows any troublemaker to instantly bring a site down without due process by posting copyrighted material there. It's an act of sweeping overreach that would, if put into law, be almost immediately challenged and brought down.

    It also means that the software pirates will immediately shift to private peer-to-peer networks, which are harder to find, harder to track, and in some ways, more efficient. It would also hand a great deal of Internet business over to nations without extradition treaties with the US, or create a boom in private data havens in international waters.

    Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, left or right, you should be able to see that these proposals would be toxic to the Internet as it currently stands, and would only act to shore up the profits of a rapidly collapsing 20th-century media empire. This isn't ideological; it's just not practical and it's arguably unconstitutional.

    January 20, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Emperor Norton

    Under SOPA and PIPA as written, it essentially guts the Internet as it stands, shuts down any "Web 3.0" sites that rely on user-created content, and allows any troublemaker to instantly bring a site down without due process by posting copyrighted material there. It's an act of sweeping overreach that would, if put into law, be almost immediately challenged and brought down.

    It also means that the software pirates will immediately shift to private peer-to-peer networks, which are harder to find, harder to track, and in some ways, more efficient. It would also hand a great deal of Internet business over to nations without extradition treaties with the US, or create a boom in private data havens in international waters.

    Whether you're a Democrat or Republican, left or right, you should be able to see that these proposals would be toxic to the Internet as it currently stands, and would only act to shore up the profits of a rapidly collapsing 20th-century media empire. This isn't ideological; it's just not practical and it's arguably unconst-itutional.

    January 20, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  14. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Fight piracy and protect copyrights – Good.
    Do it the way SOPA and PIPA are proposing to be done – Not the right way to do the right thing
    ====================================================================
    Ok... then just HOW do you do it then????

    January 20, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Truth wrote:

    Where DO you draw the line? Shouldn't copy right owners expect SOME protection? Under your scenario, everybody is just an innocent transporter that bears no responsibility for transporting illegally gotten content.
    -------
    Why do you view everything as "with me or against me"? We already have anti-piracy laws in the US, but they have no jurisdiction where many of these crimes are committed. "Where Do you draw the line?" That is the question, but where those laws tried to draw the line was out of order.

    Sometimes there are such things known as innocent parties. If you arrest someone with child porn on the home PC, do you charge the PC manufacturer with child porn, also? Do you charge the gun manufacturer for the murders committed with his product? Where do you draw the line? How is Google supposed to know in intimate detail exactly what is copywritten and what is not? Did you know that "Happy Birthday" video you posted on Facebook violates US laws?

    January 20, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. B

    Another Classic case of the Congress Not understanding issues concerned with writing required legislation because most of Congress are Old – out of touch – people!

    We need to put some people in Congress that understand this countries Current Concerns and requirements for appropriate law..

    TERM LIMITS

    January 20, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Truth asked:

    Ok... then just HOW do you do it then????
    --------–
    Don't you know? Ask private industry what is the best way to protect against illegal distribution of intellectual property. Didn't you know that? I am surprised at you, that you didn't come up with that conservative talking point on your own when original thought required it.

    January 20, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |