First Dem reverses course on piracy bill

Rep. Tim Holden (D-Pa.) became the first Democrat to drop his support for the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) on Wednesday after a massive Web protest of the bill.

Republican Reps. Lee Terry (Neb.) and Ben Quayle (Ariz.) have also withdrawn their co-sponsorship of the House's anti-piracy measure.

Holden was one of the earliest backers of the controversial legislation and is the first Democrat in either chamber to reverse course after thousands of sites, including Google, encouraged users to contact lawmakers about opposing the legislation. Wikipedia and reddit blacked out their sites in protest.

Lawmakers in both parties who had not previously taken a position on the bill announced their opposition after the popular websites brought mass attention to the issue. 

Others, including GOP Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchGOP talks of narrowing ‘blue-slip’ rule for judges Senator's photo spurs caption contest White House tells Congress it will renegotiate NAFTA MORE (Utah), Marco RubioMarco RubioDHS extends protected status for Haitians for six months Congress should let local communities set their own PACE Rubio: ‘People got what they voted for’ MORE (Fla.), Roy BluntRoy BluntSenators unveil infrastructure investment bill GOP nears total exasperation with Trump GOP senators pitch Merrick Garland for FBI director MORE (Mo.), John BoozmanJohn BoozmanCongress should let local communities set their own PACE GOP senators on Comey firing: Where they stand Overnight Cybersecurity: Latest on Trump's firing of FBI Director Comey | US officials have questions for Kaspersky Labs | Dems want details on FCC cyberattack MORE (Ark.) and Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteWeek ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington GOP senators pitch Merrick Garland for FBI director Kelly Ayotte among candidates to be FBI director: report MORE (N.H.), pulled their support for SOPA's Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act. 

The piracy bills are designed to go after foreign websites that offer illegal copies of movies, music and TV shows. The bills would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines delete links to sites deemed to be “dedicated” to copyright infringement. Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

Movie studios, record labels and business groups say the legislation would cut down on illegal file sharing, which is hurting companies and eliminating jobs.

But Web companies warn the bills would stifle innovation and censor free speech. They say the legislation would impose an unreasonable burden on websites to police user-generated content and could lead to legitimate websites being shut down.

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis week: Congress awaits Comey testimony Will Republicans grow a spine and restore democracy? Racial representation: A solution to inequality in the People’s House MORE (D-Nev.) will bring the Protect IP Act to a vote on Tuesday. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) plans to push ahead with work on SOPA next month.