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SOPA vote delayed in House

Action on SOPA, the House bill aimed at stopping online piracy, has been delayed. The House Judiciary Committee could vote on SOPA as early as Wednesday. 

By / December 19, 2011

Congress has delayed a vote on the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. Among SOPA's biggest opponents is Google.



When we last checked in with SOPA, the bill aimed at curtailing online piracy, it was catching flak from op-ed writers and newspaper editorial boards alike. The bill’s detractors, including some of the world’s largest Internet companies (Google, Twitter, and Facebook among them) were decrying that the provision would create major, damaging changes in the Internet’s underlying technology in the name of stopping copyright infringement.

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Now, after two long days of debate, the House Judiciary Committee has postponed a vote on SOPA.

According to Reuters, the SOPA discussion came to an "abrupt end" when Congress was forced to "turn its attention to a floor vote on a nearly $1 trillion spending bill that would avert a government shutdown." Not that the bill is dead in the water: Lawmakers are slated to take up the SOPA measure again when Congress reconvenes, possibly as soon as Wednesday. 

The Guardian today reported that Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who authored the bill, had "conceded to calls for further investigation of claims that the legislation will damage the infrastructure of the internet." That concession was enough for Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit, who called the decision "a huge victory for everyone who uses the Internet – and proof that millions of people speaking out can still make a difference in a Congress usually run by corporate lobbyists."

A quick recap: SOPA would allow private companies (especially movie and record companies, whose livelihoods depend on protecting intellectual property) to create a blacklist of websites that they deem to be infringing on copyrights. With a judge’s signature, the companies can then defund these sites by barring ad providers and banks from doing business with them. SOPA doesn’t affect sites ending in .com, .org, or .net, meaning that only non-US websites would be affected by the bill.


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