[AfrICANN-discuss] Senate Postpones Vote on Internet Anti-Piracy Bill

Mamadou LO alfamamadou at hotmail.com
Fri Jan 20 18:10:37 SAST 2012

Senate Postpones Vote on Internet Anti-Piracy Bill
WASHINGTON — Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, on Friday called off a scheduled vote on the anti-Internet piracy bill that had rallied the World Wide Web and rocked Capitol Hill, and House leaders took steps to slow legislation as well. 
Taking to the medium that helped organize massive protests against the legislation, Mr. Reid, Democrat of Nevada, announced a delay in the vote via the social media Web site Twitter. But he indicated the issue, which had been scheduled for a vote Tuesday, had not died. 
“There’s no reason that legitimate issues raised about PROTECT IP can’t be resolved,” he wrote, referring to the legislation by its short-hand name. “Counterfeiting & piracy cost 1000s of #jobs yearly. Americans rightfully expect to be fairly compensated 4 their work. I’m optimistic that we can reach compromise on PROTECT IP in coming week.” 
In the House, Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who chairs the Judiciary Committee, called off plans to formally draft his version of the anti-piracy bill next month. 
After vowing two days ago to move forward, Mr. Smith said in a statement on Friday:  “The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.” But he added, “The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.” 
The Protect I.P. Act and its counterpart in the House, the Stop Online Piracy Act, had broad bipartisan support when they were drafted by Mr. Smith and Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. The bills were pushed hard by the Hollywood studios, recording industry, book publishing world and United States Chamber of Commerce as antidotes to rampant piracy of American cultural wares by offshore Web sites. 
But many Internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, saw the bills as a threat, and said they would stifle creativity on the Internet while forcing search engines and social media to become police officers for the Department of Justice. Other outlets, such as Wikipedia, objected to any proposed laws that could crimp the free flow of information on the Internet. 
With new economy aplomb, the Internet giants rallied their troops to rise up against such Washington stalwarts as the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. What had started as a non-partisan issue began turning to Republican advantage, as Republicans led the flight away from the bill. 
By Thursday night, senior Republican staffers were bragging that the remaining supporters of the bills were largely Democrats, even though members of both parties had helped draft them. 
Mr. Leahy went along with Mr. Reid’s decision to back off, but he made it clear he was doing so reluctantly. 
“More time will pass with jobs lost and economies hurt by foreign criminals who are stealing American intellectual property and selling it back to American consumers,” he said in a statement. 
“The day will come when the senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem,” he added. “Somewhere in China today, in Russia today, and in many other countries that do not respect American intellectual property, criminals who do nothing but peddle in counterfeit products and stolen American content are smugly watching how the United States Senate decided it was not even worth debating how to stop the overseas criminals from draining our economy.”  
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