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Jan-20-2012 11:28printcomments

Protests Lead to Permanent Postponement of both PIPA and SOPA

The tide turned soon after the protest, and both bills lost some of their Congressional backers.

Hundreds turned out for a New York protest against SOPA and PIPA, a pair of controversial anti-piracy proposals.
Hundreds turned out for a New York protest against SOPA and PIPA, a pair of controversial anti-piracy proposals.

(NEW YORK CNNMoney ) - When the entire Internet gets angry, Congress takes notice. Both the House and the Senate on Friday backed away from a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills, tossing them into limbo and throwing doubt on their future viability.

The Senate had been scheduled to hold a proceedural vote next week on whether to take up the Protect IP Act (PIPA) -- a bill that once had widespread, bipartisan support. But on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was postponing the vote "in light of recent events."

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives said it is putting on hold its version of the bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The House will "postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said in a written statement.

The moves came after several lawmakers flipped their position on the bills in the wake of widespread online and offline protests against them.

Tech companies, who largely oppose the bills, mobilized their users this week to contact representatives and speak out against the legislation. Sites including Wikipedia and Reddit launched site blackouts on January 18, while protesters hit the streets in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) drew more than 7 million signatures for an anti-SOPA and PIPA petition that it linked on its highly trafficked homepage.

The tide turned soon after the protest, and both bills lost some of their Congressional backers.

"I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns," Smith said Friday in a prepared statement. "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves."

PIPA and SOPA aim to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content. (Click here for our explainer: What SOPA is and why it matters.)

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COLLI January 20, 2012 12:31 pm (Pacific time)

It appears that we may have, at long last, learned that allowing the government to control anything creates more problems than it solves. There is no way we should allow the federal government to control any facet of our freedom of speech. We have seen all too often that allowing either a Democrat or a Republican administration and/or Congress to tamper with any of our rights gives them carte blanche to tamper with all of our rights. Piracy is really nothing more than theft and we already have laws against that. We certainly do not need a law that is little more than a thinly veiled mechanism meant to put control of one of the most well used forms of communication today! It seems that every time we have a Presidential election or a controversial event of some sort, waiting in the wings, both political parties want to wrest control of free speech from the people. It has happened before and it can happen again. Woodrow Wilson did it rather successfully using the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 to silence any publication who spoke out against the War. We probably have far more politicians in office right now who would not hesitate to use such tactics than would hesitate.

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