The hashtag SOPA is dead began trending on Twitter Friday as news spread that Representative Lamar Smith has withdrawn the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), the highly controversial anti-piracy legislation, from consideration in the House of Representatives. Smith agreed to pull the bill until there is wider agreement on a solution.
I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy, Smith (R-Texas) said. 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.
And in a statement, Smith added: The problem of online piracy is too big to ignore. American intellectual property industries provide 19 million high-paying jobs and account for more than 60% of U.S. exports. The theft of America's intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while American innovators and job creators are under attack.
The online theft of American intellectual property is no different than the theft of products from a store. It is illegal and the law should be enforced both in the store and online.
The Committee will continue to work with copyright owners, Internet companies, financial institutions to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America's intellectual property. We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem. The Committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.
Smith's action comes after a one-day Internet blackout to protest SOPA and its companion legislation in the Senate, Protect IP Act (PIPA), by some of the biggest Websites, including Wikipedia, Reddit, and Boing Boing. Google protested the bill with a black censor box over its Google doodle.
Early Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that he was postponing next Tuesday's vote on PIPA.
Anonymous, the hacker group that was behind multiple Internet-based protests against these bills, tweeted: ?BREAKING? - Rep. Lamar Smith has WITHDRAWN SOPA from the House. THIS IS VICTORY! http://goo.gl/0DrFS SOPA is DEAD!
The indefinite postponement of the bills buoyed their opponents. We appreciate that lawmakers have listened to our community's concerns, and we stand ready to work with them on solutions to piracy and copyright infringement that will not chill free expression or threaten the economic growth and innovation the Internet provides, a Facebook spokesman said.
PIPA and SOPA had support from the music and film industries. More than 2.2 million hard-working, middle-class people in all 50 states depend on the entertainment industry for their jobs and many millions more work in other industries that rely on intellectual property, said Michael O'Leary, of the Motion Picture Association of America.
Chris Dodd, chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America and a former Democratic senator, said the failure to pass SOPA/PIPA will aid criminals. As a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves, Dodd said.
The withdrawal comes just one day after Kim Schmitz, founder of Megaupload, and his associates were arrested for their involvement in the file-sharing Web site. The Department of Justice arrested the individuals on Thursday, for content piracy and revenue losses to copyright owners that amounted to $500 million.