Commentary Magazine


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Internet Kills SOPA/PIPA Bills

Both the House and Senate have indefinitely postponed action on the SOPA/PIPA legislation, which would make it easier for the government to shut down online intellectual property thieves, but could have unintended negative consequences for websites. Harry Reid spun this as a temporary setback for the bill, but after the massive online protests this week it’s doubtful that legislators will want to bring this issue up again during an election year:

SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said his committee won’t take up the bill as planned next month — and that he’d have to “wait until there is wider agreement on a solution” before moving forward.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, meanwhile, said he was calling off a cloture vote on PIPA he’d scheduled for Tuesday.

Reid tried to put on a brave face, saying in a statement that he was optimistic that progress could be made in the coming weeks. But there’s no mistaking what happened.

Many of the Senate bill’s co-sponsors have since come out against it, leaving Reid a no-win choice: Go forward with the cloture vote he’d planned for Tuesday and lose, or send the bill off into back-burner purgatory.

Getting SOPA/PIPA through congress at this point seems undoable – even if the bill’s backers manage to corral enough support from legislators, this is the last issue Obama would want resurfacing during his reelection campaign. It pits Silicon Valley against Hollywood, and Obama showed during the Keystone XL that he’ll do anything to avoid taking a stance that alienates one of his core support groups.

That doesn’t mean the entertainment industry will back off. They have too much riding on this cause. The way forward for the entertainment industry may be to work with the internet and tech giants who opposed SOPA/PIPA, in order to come up with a plan to reduce copyright violations that both can live with.