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SOPA author withdraws controversial anti-piracy bill

Lamar Smith, the author of America’s proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), has withdrawn the controversial bill.

According to Reuters, the Texas congressman decided to pull the bill in the wake of mass online protests from people in the US and abroad. Smith’s decision comes shortly after US Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said, “in light of recent events” he would postpone a critical vote that had been scheduled for January 24.

Smith said that similar legislation would not be considered “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”

“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” said the Republican chairman of the Judiciary house committee.

“It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products,” Smith said.

Earlier this week, large sections of the online community banded together to protest the bill. High profile internet players such as Google, Wikipedia, and Reddit blacked out either the entirety or sections of their sites.

It is unclear whether SOPA’s sister legislation, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) — currently making its way through the senate — will also now be abandoned.

The much lamented legislation would have seen sites, US and international, punished for hosting or linking to any copyrighted content deemed to have been illegitimately uploaded.

Despite a number of key proponents of the bill withdrawing their support for SOPA, Wikipedia vowed to continue fighting any legislation that has the potential to damage intellectual freedom on the internet.

According to Cnet, supporters of the bill have vowed not to give up in their attempts to push through legislation that will punish online piracy.

“We must take action to stop online piracy and counterfeiting”, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, told the tech news site.

Certain players in the American legislature opposing the bill have also warned that SOPA, or legislation similar to it, is unlikely to go away any time soon.

“I expect this threat to resurface,” Jerry Moran of Kansas, the first Republican senator to oppose Protect IP told Cnet.

Alternatives from Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Darrel Issa have already been proposed. Dubbed the OPEN Act, Wyden said of the bill that it “meets the same publicly stated goals as SOPA or Protect IP without causing massive damage to the Internet.” Issa, who introduced a companion bill in the House, said that “SOPA and PIPA lacked a fundamental understanding of how Internet technologies work.” The technology sector has shown more optimism for the OPEN Act.

Major Hollywood players have been voracious in their support of SOPA and Protect IP.

“As a consequence of failing to act, there will continue to be a safe haven for foreign thieves (and) American jobs will continue to be lost,” Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Chris Dodd said in a statement.

Others supporting the bill include the venerable American daily newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and tech players such as Microsoft, Dell, and Intel.

Author | Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself to be thrown in the deep and did his best stay afloat. When not fused with his keyboard, you can find him... More