Reid postpones vote on Internet piracy bill

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP embraces big stimulus after years of decrying it Five Latinas who could be Biden's running mate Winners and losers from Super Tuesday 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 LeahyMnuchin emerges as key asset in Trump's war against coronavirus Lawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill Democrats seek to increase supplemental funding bill to 0 billion 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 HatchBottom line Bottom line Trump administration backs Oracle in Supreme Court battle against Google MORE (Utah), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio knocks coverage of US coronavirus cases as 'grotesque' and 'bad journalism Lessons from the front line — Florida's fight with sea level rise SNAP, airlines among final hurdles to coronavirus stimulus deal MORE (Fla.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Lawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package Senate Democrats vow to keep pushing for more funds for mail-in voting MORE (Mo.), John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanOn The Money: Stocks have worst week in a decade on coronavirus fears | Fed chief hints at rate cut | Trump pushes central bank for action | Kudlow advises investors to 'think about buying the dip' Republicans growing nervous about 2020 economy Overnight Defense: Pentagon policy chief resigns at Trump's request | Trump wishes official 'well in his future endeavors' | Armed Services chair warns against Africa drawdown after trip MORE (Ark.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteLobbying World On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump GOP fears Trump backlash in suburbs 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 McConnellMnuchin emerges as key asset in Trump's war against coronavirus Louisiana Republican: People upset at 'spending porn on pet projects' in latest stimulus bill Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner 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.