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Harry Reid calls off next week’s vote on PIPA

Another victory! From Senator Harry Reid’s office:

In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act.

There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved. Counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs. We must take action to stop these illegal practices. We live in a country where people rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for a day’s work, whether that person is a miner in the high desert of Nevada, an independent band in New York City, or a union worker on the back lots of a California movie studio.

I admire the work that Chairman Leahy has put into this bill. I encourage him to continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans’ intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the internet. We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks.

Reid had earlier said he would not bother whipping Democratic votes for the bill. Now he’s putting off the vote together, which is great news. It doesn’t mean PIPA is dead, but at least it’s not going to be advancing next week.

This victory would not have happened were it not for Wednesday’s Internet strike. Our day of action convinced more than half a dozen PIPA co-sponsors to drop their support of the legislation, and led more than a dozen undeclared senators to announce their opposition for the first time.

Now we’ve achieved something more: We’ve forced Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – a self-proclaimed “admirer” of the bill as drafted – to pull it off of the table for the time being. That’s a pretty significant accomplishment.

The MPAA’s Chris Dodd has conceded that SOPA and PIPA’s momentum has been lost. He gave away as much in  a conversation with the New York Times, which sought an interview with him to get his reaction to the Internet strike.

On Thursday, however, Mr. Dodd appeared to have all but thrown in the towel on the bills in their current form, and was talking about lessons learned. He acknowledged his side had committed a misstep by allowing Hollywood to become the face of laws that were intended to protect not just movies, but also more mundane products — for instance, home smoke alarms — that are frequently counterfeited abroad, sometimes with disastrous effects.

If Dodd truly thinks that Hollywood’s only misstep was not being clever enough with its P.R., he’s got more disappointments coming to him.

Support for SOPA and PIPA collapsed because the bills that Dodd’s own people helped draw up are fatally flawed. Dodd and his crew of lobbyists do not understand how the Internet works, and they still (wrongly) think the best way to grow their profits is through punitive, draconian legislation instead of innovation.

For years, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) have been treating their own member media conglomerates’ customers like criminals, imposing digital restrictions management on content, slapping intimidating warnings on discs and trying to stamp out online file sharing by filing an endless series of lawsuits (even managing to target families without computers). These measures have utterly failed to stamp out online copyright infringement.

SOPA and PIPA would not improve matters. Legitimate speech on the Net would be stifled and legitimate commerce on the Net would be undermined, while those determined to share movies, books, music, or software would each other would continue to do so through darknets or other means of sharing not yet invented.

We firmly believe that SOPA and PIPA are too fatally flawed to be fixed. Darrell Issa and Ron Wyden’s OPEN Act (which is totally different legislation) is worth a look, but Dodd, speaking on behalf of his trade group, has already taken pot shots at their proposal and made it clear he’s not interested.

It’s evidently his way or the highway.

That kind of attitude isn’t going to get Dodd what we he wants. We will continue to vigorously oppose this legislation in cooperation with our many friends and allies in the Internet community. And working together, we’ll prevail and protect the most democratic medium for communication ever invented.

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