Web protest succeeds in halting anti-piracy bills

President Obama had indicated he was unhappy with the wording of the Bills

Internet freedom campaigners were celebrating last night after two controversial anti-piracy bills were kicked into the long grass by US lawmakers.

Key backers of the so-called Sopa and Pipa bills said they would postpone any further debates on the laws until a better compromise had been reached. The decision is a victory for a host of prominent websites and internet entrepreneurs, including the Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales, who shut down the site all day Wednesday in protest at the laws.

Critics of the legislation maintained that the bills were, in effect, written by lobbyists for the music and film industries, and that they would have forced websites and internet providers to monitor their content to a level that would have restricted freedom of speech.

But movie production studios, television networks and record labels insist that new legislation is needed to tackle the ever-growing presence of pirated material on the internet.

After days of bitter arguments between the two camps, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, said he would delay a vote on the Protect Intellectual Property Act (Pipa) which had been scheduled for Tuesday.

He was swiftly followed by the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith, who said his panel would not return to discussing the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) until there was greater agreement over its wording.

"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," Mr Smith said in a statement.

The moves will halt any further progress on the bills until after the US presidential polls in November. It is likely that any new versions of the bills will need big changes to ease concerns about freedom on the internet. President Barack Obama had already indicated that he was unhappy with the current wording of the bills, which could have led to him being forced to use a veto if they had been passed.

The postponement is a dramatic outcome for two pieces of legislation that looked as if they would go through the US Congress relatively unchallenged at the start of the week.

The protest gathered pace when Mr Wales said he would follow the lead of smaller websites and take his website offline for 24 hours on Wednesday. The ensuing media coverage, and the fact that millions of web pages "went dark" overnight, meant that Americans were suddenly confronted with what the two bills could have led to.

Thousands wrote in to their representatives, and by the end of Wednesday a number of key backers of the two bills had withdrawn their support, eventually prompting last night's sudden U-turn in Washington.

One analysis by the ProPublica website revealed the protest's effectiveness. At the start of Wednesday it calculated that there were 80 supporters of the bills in Congress and just 41 representatives who had opposed it. By yesterday, those numbers had changed to just 65 supporters and 101 declared opponents. A further 41 lawmakers were categorised as "leaning no".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn