US Senate and House of Representatives leaders said on Friday they would put off any further action on online piracy legislation after a storm of protest over the measures.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, said he was postponing a procedural vote set for Tuesday “in light of recent events.”
Those events included a petition drive by Google that attracted more than 7 million participants and a one-day blackout by the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Republican, quickly followed suit, saying consideration of a similar House bill would be postponed “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”
The Senate’s Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) have strong support from the entertainment industry and other businesses that lose billions of US dollars annually as a result of intellectual property theft and online sales of counterfeit products, but they are also strongly opposed by Internet--related companies that say the bill would lead to over-regulation and censorship of the Internet.
Reid has also seen at least a half-dozen senators who sponsored the bill announce they now oppose it.
Counterfeiting and piracy cost the US economy billions of dollars every year and “there is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved,” Reid said.
The main Senate sponsor, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, said he respected Reid’s decision to postpone the vote, but lamented the Senate’s unwillingness to debate the bill.
“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 said.
Criminals in China, Russia and other countries “who do nothing but peddle in counterfeit products and stolen American content are smugly watching how the United States Senate decided” it was not worth debating the bill.