Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Leaders of opposition to SOPA and PIPA in Congress congratulate Net strike organizers

As we reported earlier today, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has scrapped plans to hold a vote on the “Protect IP Act”, also known as PIPA, next Tuesday.

PIPA is one of the two MPAA and RIAA-backed bills that would permit major media conglomerates to indirectly censor the Internet, using the long arm of the Department of Justice. The netroots community has been working in cooperation with activists from across the political spectrum to defeat the bills, culminating in Wednesday’s Internet strike… a global protest against PIPA and its House equivalent, SOPA (the “Stop Online Piracy Act”).

Those efforts paid off today with Senator Reid’s decision not to bring PIPA to the Senate floor next week, and Texas Republican Lamar Smith’s separate announcement that SOPA will not be moving forward (for now) in the House.

The leaders of the bipartisan effort against the bills all released statements praising the news and thanking protest participants for jolting Capitol Hill.

“Senator Reid’s decision to pull PIPA from the floor is the right one. Legislation impacting the future of the Internet is simply too important to get wrong,” said Oregon’s senior senator, Ron Wyden, who singlehandedly stopped PIPA from advancing to the Senate floor in 2011 by placing a hold on the bill.

“PIPA’s authors have been right to identify copyright infringement and the online sale of counterfeit goods as a problem that Congress should work to address. The problem with the approach taken by PIPA and the House, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is that it treats the Internet as if its only purpose was to promote infringement. That approach not only resulted in remedies that would have done irreparable harm to online innovation, openness and free speech, it neglects the considerable opportunities presented by today’s digital economy.”

“Congress should take this opportunity to do more than work out a compromise bill, Congress should take this opportunity to gain a better understanding of the digital world and look for ways to both protect and promote digital trade and innovation,” he added.

“I believe the OPEN Act is a good place to start. But before we think about next steps, we should reflect on the history that was made this week. More than 15 million Americans got involved in a policy debate demonstrating that even in the face of some of the biggest and most powerful special interests, every voice counts.”

Washington’s Maria Cantwell agreed.

“I appreciate Senator Reid’s decision to postpone a vote on the PROTECT IP Act” Cantwell said in a midafternoon statement. “America’s economy thrives on innovation and freedom of speech. We can’t afford to rush an Internet policy that could trample on our innovation economy.”

“This week, the American people clearly spoke – and their voices were heard. Thank you to the thousands of Washingtonians who raised your voices this week to support an open and free Internet.”

“As we move forward, I’ll continue to advocate for a policy that protects both creative content and online freedom of speech. I was proud to be part of the original bipartisan coalition offering an alternative to PROTECT IP. Now, I encourage Congress to consider the OPEN Act, which addresses illegal piracy and security while keeping the Internet open for free speech and innovation.”

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa also congratulated strike organizers and participants after Reid announced his decision to put off a vote.

“Supporters of the Internet deserve credit for pressing advocates of SOPA and PIPA to back away from an effort to ram through controversial legislation,” Issa said in a news release. “Over the last two months, the intense popular effort to stop SOPA and PIPA has defeated an effort that once looked unstoppable but lacked a fundamental understanding of how Internet technologies work.

Other statements from opposition leaders:

We at NPI thank Representatives Issa, Polis, and Lofgren, as well as Senators Wyden, Cantwell, Paul, and Moran for their leadership in defending the Internet against these ill-conceived bills. Were it not for them, these bills might be law right now… which is a very scary thought! Thankfully, neither PIPA or SOPA is on our books, and the Internet remains open and free. We must continue to be active in protecting the Net from future misguided legislation.