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Politicians back down on piracy law following web protest


By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 19 Jan 2012 at 09:23

Several US politicians who had backed a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills have apparently changed their minds following a well-publicised online protest.

Yesterday, sites including Wikipedia shut down for the day to publicise the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Wikipedia said 162 million people saw its page asking users to find out about the proposed legislation and contact their representatives about it. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said via Twitter that compares to about 25 to 30 million visitors on a normal day.

SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows

"SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows," Wikipedia said in a statement on the site. "What’s happened in the last 24 hours, though, is extraordinary."

Indeed, over the past day, several US politicians have apparently changed their stance on the proposed laws - including some who had originally sponsored the bills.

Senators Roy Blunt, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Boozman and Marco Rubio withdrew support for PIPA, with Rubio saying over Facebook: "Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the internet."

Congressmen Lee Terry and Ben Quayle have also reportedly changed sides on SOPA, saying they support an alternative, re-written version of the law.

Quayle, who co-sponsored the bill, said dealing with piracy was still important. "However, Representative Quayle believes that as the bill currently stands, it could have unintended consequences that need to be addressed before moving forward and these concerns led him to withdraw his name as a co-sponsor," his spokesman told a US newspaper.

PIPA will face a Senate vote next week, while SOPA will be back in front of Congress next month.

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User comments

Well, that's a BS report.

Didn't think I'd see PC Pro spinning a story.

At the very most, you can say, "Some politicians have changed their declared position to align themselves with their perception of public opinion." There is no evidence that politicians have actually 'backed down' at all, or that the intent of the bills are not to be progressed. Indeed, there is evidence that it is still full steam ahead.

By mbassoc on 19 Jan 2012


I'd agree that cynicism is warranted but one undeniable benefit to yesterday's action is that it has shown some US politicians who were previously in thrall to the Hollywood vested interests that there are two sides to the piracy story.

I'm sure that it had previously been promoted as a black and white matter with these acts 'obviously' the way to go.

I suspect that a lot of politicians will have had their eyes opened to at least some extent.

By qpw3141 on 19 Jan 2012

Yes, but....

US laws are drafted, written and brought into constute, by money alone. Not as a process of democracy. The US government is not there to represent the interests of the US people, but to represent the interests of US corporations, and by default then, the employees of those corporations (ergo the US public).

So, policy in the US is both written and carried by lobby groups, and those groups fail or succeed solely on the grounds of how much financial backing they have (from corporations) and how much they have to spend (to pay the politicians for their support).

You just need to look at the Mickey Mouse laws that were passed on the back of the Disney Corporations funding pof the laws to see how it works. There are laws in the US that have practically zero support, and even laws that are against the US constitution and have paid to have US Supreme Court Judges rule that the constitution should be set aside in this instance, that have been passed on the back of enough funding.

This is not a good sign at all. It means that the politicians and the lobby groups are positioning themselves to pass this into constute in a manner that cannot be contested by the US public.

By mbassoc on 19 Jan 2012

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