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PIPA and SOPA votes shelved. Your move, web.

SOPA protests in New York

Update: After this story was published, the House Judiciary chairman and co-sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) also said he would postpone the vote to bring SOPA out of committee (it’s buried at the bottom of his statement on the Protect IP Act here). The story has been updated to reflect his change of heart, and I reached out to confirm that the vague wording in the statement means this is really permanent. The statement reads, “The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.”

Updated:Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), will postpone the scheduled vote on the Protect IP Act (PIPA) set for next Tuesday in the Senate. The move is a small big victory for the millions of people and hundreds of companies that oppose the intellectual property bill on the grounds it is too far-reaching in its attempts to curb piracy. In a statement put out Friday morning, Reid said:

“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.”

The protests that rocked the web on Wednesday and resulted in 13 million Americans taking some form of action to protest PIPA and its companion bill in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), have been essential for swaying legislative opinion on the issue. Behind the scenes, tech industry leaders have been discussing the issue with congressional staffers and legislators in an effort to educate them about the effects of the legislation and more broadly about how the Internet works at a technical and business level. It’s unclear if that will be enough to stop Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R-Texas) crusade to get SOPA out of committee and to the broader House for a vote, but he’s hoping to schedule the next action on SOPA “some time in February.”

Meanwhile, activists and the tech community are urging Congress to start over with a new bill, perhaps the recently introduced Online Protection & Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), which is already gaining support among companies that include Google (s goog) and Facebook. The act takes a different view of IP theft, regarding it as a trade issue and attempting to attack the problem using the International Trade Commission as a vehicle for judgment as opposed to seeing the Internet as a vast wasteland of infringing sites that rights holders could take down at the slightest provocation. There are plenty of people in the tech industry that are unsure if any IP protection is necessary, but as the recent FBI raid on video-sharing site MegaUpload shows, this is an area that the government isn’t going to ignore.

Update: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the sponsor of PIPA is unimpressed with the move. He pointed out this is a bill Senators had read back in May and approved, and called their change of heart in the wake of the wide-scale protests a “knee-jerk reaction.” He issued a statement that tied the IP issues addressed by the bill to Congress’ favorite flagpole: jobs. In his statement he said,

“But the day will come when the Senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem. Somewhere in China today, in Russia today, and in many other countries that do not respect American intellectual property, criminals who do nothing but peddle in counterfeit products and stolen American content are smugly watching how the United States Senate decided it was not even worth debating how to stop the overseas criminals from draining our economy.”

12 Responses to “PIPA and SOPA votes shelved. Your move, web.”

  1. The one thing to keep in mind is that this congress and this executive branch have pushed legislation regardless on the majority of opinions. so we may expect some form of legislation drafting that will pass at some point in time. There is no legislation in this aspect unless very carefully drafted and by cooperation of other segments of the online business that will not put in jeopardy freedom of speech

  2. robert steele

    US ISPs ($600B+), search engines and internet ad networks ($200B+) make 20 to 40 times more money than all US content industries combined. Google $44B, Verizon 120B. Viacom $13B (Paramount, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc.) Warner Music Group 2.4B. The “business model” and massive growth of ISPs and internet ad networks has been due to the fact that they make money on content that they do not pay for, even though it is against the law to do so.

    • nkillgore

      So, which studio do you work for? Or are you an MPAA lackey? This bill allowed corporations to circumvent the constitution, not to even mention have several problems on the technical side (about which the IETF was not consulted).

      I thought 30% of traffic was from Netflix? Or is it P2P? Is P2P all piracy? I downloaded the latest distro of Ubuntu and Backtrack via bittorrent because it goes faster. I didn’t pirate them.

      Maybe you could get a piece of that advertising pie if instead of trying to use the government to keep your archaic business model viable, you tried to come up with a business model for the 21st century. Making record profits while complaining that every illegal download is a lost sale is an absurd and tired argument that no one cares about. Figure out how to make money without resorting to bullying congressmen, or go away.

      Let’s use the music industry as an example. I haven’t bought a song, cd, album, whatever in over a year. Does that make me a pirate? No, it doesn’t. I would rather pay $4 a month for a slacker radio subscription or $36 a year for a pandora one subscription or $10 a month for a MOG or Spotify subscription than pay $15 for a new cd. The music industry tries to say that these services are reducing the value of their music. I say, “bullshit”. These services are the only reason I’m paying for music at all. I don’t think a song is worth a dollar. Or even 10 cents. Likewise, most of the crap put out by Hollywood isn’t worth the $20 that a new Blu Ray or DVD costs. Hell it isn’t worth the $4 rental that iTunes charges. Why do you think Redbox is so popular?

      • Xbox Live uses a P2P port when it comes to routing protocols. So when you look at the measure of P2P network usage think of all the 12 year olds playing Modern Warfare 3.

  3. robert steele

    ‎33% of all Internet traffic is P2P “Filesharing” (i.e. illegal distribution) which is primarily used to steal music, movies, software, books and games. – Cisco report page 9. It is not a trade issue until US companies profiting from piracy are held accountable first. It is organized illegal activity supported by US ISPs, US search engines and US internet ad networks.

  4. Hey Leahy, Your little industry sponsored bill isnt going to stop all those China and Russian pirates or counterfeiters in any case. So with that in mind I respectfully decline and you can stick this bill where the sun dont shine and lets see about getting you out of this decision making role you seem to think allows you to ignore the voice of your constituents!

  5. TallTroll

    1) I know quite a lot of Americans whose activities could have fallen under the auspices of these bills. They pay their taxes, and even create work for other US citizens. They are quite happy about this outcome

    2) “Big Media” companies often deliberately mischaracterise virtually everything to do with the online arena as “piracy”, because they are too lazy / stupid to work out how to monetise it themselves. With just a tiny amount of foresight, and (for them) very modest investment, they could dominate the online entertainment sector for the forseeable future. But it would require them to start thinking, so they won’t

  6. Daniel J. Newman

    Why even have representatives, just put the vote directly to the people. It works for picking the winner of American Idol why not use the same thing for real issues. No on SOPA, and off I go to enjoy the rest of my day, with none of this postponing, nonsence.

  7. “Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), the sponsor of PIPA is unimpressed with the move. He pointed out that this is a bill Senators had read back in May and approved,…”

    Senators rarely read bills. If they did, even with their compromised allegiance to the best interests of the nation, they wouldn’t vote for half of the bills they approve.

    “and called their change of heart in the wake of the wide-scale protests a “knee-jerk reaction.”

    As opposed to their normal knee-jerk reactions of supporting any bill that comes attached with campaign contributions.

    Leahy is willing to trade the constitution for a relative handful of imaginary jobs. There are lots of jobs in China, if that’s his main goal. Not a whole lot of the rights he is supposed to protect.

  8. That statement from Leahy is the most harebrained thing I have ever seen. These people shouldn’t have pointed scissors, let be allowed to meddle in the information economy.

    • Oh you mean, like the information economy of Kim Dotcom? A fat-ugly-geek thief posing amidst expensive cars and helicopters… but hiding in his New Zealand house with electric locks and a sawed off shot gun?

      Kim Dotcom doesn’t create jobs or freedom, and you and all the other whiners here obviously are closet music / film/ & app thief’s & file sharers – call it what you like, I’ll tell you what it is, it’s stealing.

      Please stop confusing freedom and expression with free stolen stuff. And did I mention that someday you will grow up and pay taxes.

      • nkillgore

        To be fair, Leahy’s statement was pretty asinine. There was a lot more in SOPA and PIPA than just the ability to stop overseas IP thieves. I am strongly opposed to pirating content, especially in the PC gaming realm, where the threat of piracy is the reason for draconian DRM and poor console ports. If I want a game, I pay for it, if for no other reason than to put forth my dollars as a vote of confidence in an industry that I want to support.