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Saturday, January 21, 2012
Congress Puts SOPA on Hold


Lawmakers stopped anti-piracy legislation in its tracks on Friday, delivering a win for Internet companies that staged an online protest this week to kill the new bills.

Senator Harry Reid announced he would postpone a cloture vote on PIPA scheduled for next Tuesday, which means, as a practical matter, that the bill is dead for now. Shortly after that announcement, Representative Lamar Smith issued a statement conceding PIPA's evil House stepsister, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), also wasn't ready for prime time.

In the U.S., momentum against the Senate's Protect Intellectual Property Act and the House's Stop Online Piracy Act, known popularly as PIPA and SOPA, grew quickly on Wednesday when the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and other Web giants staged a one-day blackout and Google organized a petition drive that attracted more than 7 million participants.

That day alone, at least six senators who had co-sponsored the Senate legislation reversed their positions.

The two bills would allow the Justice Department, and copyright holders, to seek court orders against foreign websites accused of copyright infringement. The legislation would bar online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as credit card companies from doing business with an alleged violator. They also would forbid search engines from linking to such sites.

However, big media companies aren't going to give up their efforts to persuade Congress that they need new legal hammers.

The battle over the future of the Internet also played out on a different front Thursday when a loose affiliation of hackers known as "Anonymous" shut down Justice Department websites for several hours and hacked the site of the Motion Picture Association of America after federal officials issued an indictment against Megaupload.com, one of the world's biggest file-sharing sites.


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