Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Online Piracy Legislation Stalled Indefinitely

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Friday that he would put off a test vote on the Senate version of the online piracy bill, the PROTECT IP Act.

Legislation to combat online piracy may be dead for the year, now that Senate and House supporters have postponed action on their respective versions following intense opposition from popular websites including Google and Wikipedia.

The current chances for a compromise appear to be low, which makes a comeback this year unlikely, according to some insiders.

“I think that body is buried for the year,” one tech industry lobbyist told Roll Call.

The move by Senate and House backers to cancel scheduled votes and other actions was seen as a transformational victory for a new-media lobbying campaign by the technology sector that vanquished the Hollywood movie barons.

“It was really fascinating to see a group of people who created incredible air cover completely demolish an industry that has won virtually every major battle in Washington for years,” the lobbyist said.

Supporters said it is too early to write an obituary for the bills. They said they are hopeful discussions will yield changes to the measures, which in turn could win the support of the Web community.

“We hope the dynamics of the conversation can change and become a sincere discussion about how best to protect the millions of American jobs affected by the theft of American intellectual property,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who is head of the Motion Picture Association of America.

David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center, said, “The chamber will continue to work with Congress to help advance solutions that will both effectively protect intellectual property while preserving a vibrant and innovative Internet.”

Their comments came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced Friday that he would put off a test vote on the Senate version of the measure, the PROTECT IP Act. That vote had been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said Friday he would postpone his committee’s consideration of the House version, known as the Stop Online Piracy Act.

“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,” Smith said.

For the House bill, however, the beginning of the end came Wednesday — the day many websites were blacked out in protest — when the bill’s top proponents, Smith and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), met with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), the GOP leader at the heart of House discussions about the bill, for an emergency discussion, a GOP aide said.

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