Update, 11:16 a.m.:
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), author of the Stop Online Piracy Act, said on Friday that he is postponing consideration of the bill in response to concerns from critics who said the bill could lead to censorship.
“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” Smith said in a statement. “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.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) announced Friday he would delay consideration of measure to combat online piracy, bowing to pressure from a coalition of Internet companies, including Google and Wikipedia, that rallied consumers to their side by saying the legislation could lead to the censorship of popular sites.
In a statement, Reid said he would delay the vote scheduled for Tuesday to begin consideration until the Senate Judiciary Committee could make more progress. “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,” Reid said.
The announcement by Reid comes two days after Wikipedia, Reddit and other prominent Web sites protested the planned vote by blacking out their sites -- a move that drew widespread attention and spurred a swift reaction from many lawmakers who had previously been supportive of or ambivalent toward the anti-piracy measures.
Among the lawmakers who reversed their positions on the measures was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who had been among the earliest supporters of PIPA. Once the online protests began to garner attention on Wednesday, he and several other members of Congress announced that they were withdrawing their support for the bills.
Proponents of SOPA and PIPA argue that the measures -- which would give the Justice Department greater authority over how Web sites link to other sites suspected of piracy -- are necessary to combat illegal activity on foreign Web sites and that the bills would protect U.S. consumers and intellectual property.
Reid’s full statement is below:
“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.
“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.”
Staff writer Felicia Sonmez also contributed to this story.
The hedline on an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the name of the bill. The story has been corrected.