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
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor