OPIOID SERIES:

Reid postpones vote on Internet piracy bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination The Memo: Teens rankle the right with gun activism Dems to party: Go on offense with Trump’s alleged affairs MORE (D-Nev.) has indefinitely postponed next week's vote on the controversial Protect IP Act "in light of recent events," he announced on Friday.

The move is a resounding victory for online activists, who staged an unprecedented protest against the anti-piracy measure on Wednesday.

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“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved," Reid said in a statement. "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."

Reid said he is "optimistic" the Senate can reach a compromise on the anti-piracy legislation in the coming weeks.

Just minutes after Reid's announcement, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said he would shelve the House's version of the legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

The measures, which seemed set to sail through Congress just a few weeks ago, now appear dead.

“I understand and respect Majority Leader Reid’s decision," Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCongress should build on the momentum from spending bill Overnight Tech: Zuckerberg grilled by lawmakers over data scandal | What we learned from marathon hearing | Facebook hit with class action lawsuit | Twitter endorses political ad disclosure bill | Uber buys bike share Overnight Cybersecurity: Zuckerberg faces grilling in marathon hearing | What we learned from Facebook chief | Dems press Ryan to help get Russia hacking records | Top Trump security adviser resigning MORE (D-Vt.), the bill's sponsor, said in a statement. "But 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."

SOPA and Protect IP had broad bipartisan support until Wednesday's Web protests unleashed a wave of voter anger. 

Google, the most visited site in the world, plastered a black censorship bar over its logo, and Wikipedia blacked out its English-version site.  

More than 7 million people signed Google's petition opposing the legislation.

GOP Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenate Finance leaders call on Commerce to improve the tariff-exclusion process GOP senators raise concerns about babies on Senate floor House passes series of bills to improve IRS MORE (Utah), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioStudents gather outside White House after walkout to protest gun violence Overnight Energy: Senate confirms Bridenstine as NASA chief | Watchdog probes Pruitt’s use of security detail | Emails shine light on EPA science policy changes Senate confirms Trump’s pick to lead NASA MORE (Fla.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntMcCaskill outpaces GOP opponent by more than million GOP senators raise concerns about babies on Senate floor Some doubt McCarthy or Scalise will ever lead House GOP MORE (Mo.), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanSpending talks face new pressure Bill to bolster gun background checks gains enough support to break filibuster Senate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA MORE (Ark.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (N.H.) had signed on as co-sponsors of the Protect IP Act, but by Thursday, all of them had switched their position in the face of the public outcry.

On Thursday evening, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans divided over legislation protecting Mueller The Hill's Morning Report: Inside the Comey memos Democrats mull audacious play to block Pompeo MORE (R-Ky.) called on Reid to postpone next week's vote.

He said Reid made the "right decision" to delay the "flawed legislation."

McConnell's opposition made it unlikely that the bill would have been able to receive the 60 votes needed to cut off debate and proceed to a final vote.

All four GOP presidential candidates denounced the legislation in Thursday night's debate.

Mitt Romney called the measure "far too expansive," and warned it "would have a depressing impact on one of the fastest growing industries."

The White House released a statement on Saturday expressing concerns with the legislation, but administration officials said they believe law enforcement should have new tools to crackdown on online copyright infringement.

SOPA and Protect IP 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 foreign 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.


—This post was last updated at 10:48 a.m.