Support in Congress for SOPA and PIPA, two bills designed to combat Internet piracy, dipped Wednesday after protests against the legislation by Google and Wikipedia among other companies increased pressure on lawmakers. As Hayley Tsukayama and Sarah Halzack reported:
Visitors to Wikipedia who tried to search the online encyclopedia’s usually trivia-filled pages were instead greeted by a message informing them that the bills could “fatally damage the free and open Internet.” On Craigslist, those looking to search the classifieds had to first read through a note urging them to contact their representatives to block the bills. And while you could still run searches on Google, a black censorship bar blocked the area where a cheery Google Doodle logo normally resides.
By the evening, a number of lawmakers had done an about-face on the legislation.
The Senate version of the bill lost four of its co-sponsors, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
“It is simply not ready for prime time and both sides must continue working together to find a better path forward,” Hatch said in a statement about the Protect Intellectual Property Act.
Sens. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mark Rubio (R-Fla.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) also released statements Wednesday saying that they had reservations and would not vote for the bill if it came up for a floor vote.
In the House, where lawmakers are considering a similar bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters that “it’s pretty clear to many of us that there’s a lack of consensus at this point” on how to proceed with the bill.
While record and film industry groups in Hollywood and beyond support the Internet piracy legislation, many Internet companies oppose the bill, calling it a form of censorship. As Joshua Topolsky wrote:
As a content creator, I fully understand how precious ownership is and how painful theft can be. In fact, a sample of one of my records was used in a snippet of a car commercial in the early 2000s. The song was recorded by a jingle-maker who clearly figured no one would mind that he didn’t produce entirely original content. I was never compensated for what was blatant theft — and you know it’s bad when friends call you up on the phone and tell you they just heard your song on TV.
Yet I oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) — two laws that are doing the rounds in Washington — ostensibly meant to protect content creators from theft in the form of piracy.
And you should, too.
If you don’t know what SOPA is, you should probably spend some time on Wikipedia investigating the bill. Of course, Wikipedia shut down its site Wednesday to voice opposition to the laws (Google, Reddit and several other sites also protested similarly), so I guess that wouldn’t have been a good day to get your facts.