Congress Puts SOPA and PIPA on Hold

Votes and further consideration of two proposed anti-piracy bills that led websites such as Wikipedia to go dark in protest this week have been stopped in both chambers of Congress.

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Update (11:15 a.m. EST): In Congress's lower chamber, Rep. Lamar Smith, the sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act, which activists have opposed along with PIPA, said he would also halt consideration of the bill. "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," he said in a statement in response to Reid's announcement that he would delay a vote on PIPA. So now progress on passing both bills has been arrested indefinitely.

Original: The Senate just announced it would delay a vote on the PROTECT IP Act, one of the two bills online activists have been campaigning hard to stop, which is a pretty clear sign this week's blackout of Wikipedia and other sites worked. "In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the Protect IP Act," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The bill known as PIPA would make it easier for the U.S. Department of Justice to ask for a court order to disable a site it believed was infringing on U.S. copyrights. Online information activists say it hinders free speech and innovation, and Reid's announcement on Friday indicates he thinks there's merit to that argument. "I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks." Reid said. Now that they have an opening, the bill's opponents are going to have to either kill it completely or come up with some language that will satisfy the internet freedom activists as well as the powerful entertainment lobby, which has been pushing for PIPA and its House analog SOPA to pass.

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