In today's episode of The People Vs. SOPA/PIPA, those opposing the legislation have seemingly scored a small victory, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that he's putting Sen. Patrick Leahy's (D-VT) Protect IP bill on hold due to "recent events" -- namely Blackout Day and the departure of many supporters in Congress.
But like SOPA, the bill isn't dead in the water. Instead, it has been put on hold -- AKA shelved -- for a possible rewrite in the near future. Originally the Senate was to hold a procedural vote on PIPA on Tuesday, January 24.
"In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote on the PROTECT IP Act. There's no reason that legitimate issues raised about PROTECT IP can't be resolved. Counterfeiting & piracy cost 1000s of jobs yearly. Americans rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for their work. I'm optimistic that we can reach compromise on PROTECT IP in coming weeks," he said across three separate tweets.
Support for the legislation is seemingly dwindling down in Washington, as several sponsors of the legislation, including Senators Roy Blunt, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch and John Boozman and Marco Rubio, announced their withdrawal of support. Reports indicated that their sudden turn was due to pressure stemming from critics of the bill.
But some of them openly blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid himself for rushing the Senate version of the bill (PIPA, or the Protect IP Act). Blunt said the legislation is "deeply flawed," while both Rubio and Boozman cited "unintended consequences" that could stem from the proposed law. The Senate’s top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), even urged Reid to reconsider the bill before holding a vote on Tuesday.
"Rather than prematurely bringing the Protect IP Act to the Senate floor, we should first study and resolve the serious issues with this legislation," McConnell said late Thursday. "Considering this bill without first doing so could be counterproductive to achieving the shared goal of enacting appropriate and additional tools to combat the theft of intellectual property."
Feeling the pressure from the public and his peers, Reid decided to step back and put the legislation on hold. Naturally this is good news to opponents of the legislation. "Everyone should be pleased that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided not to go ahead with a vote on the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA)," said Art Brodsky of Public Knowledge. "Simply tinkering with the details of this bill, or of its House companion, is not the way to go. Neither is a ‘summit’ between the Big Media companies and tech companies."
Some are calling for a "start from scratch" approach rather than a rewrite.
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, wasn't happy with the news on Friday, accusing the Senate of having the inability to debate competing ideas to address a problem directly affecting American jobs, American workers and American consumers.
"More time will pass with jobs lost and economies hurt by foreign criminals who are stealing American intellectual property, and selling it back to American consumers," he writes. "I understand and respect Majority Leader Reid’s decision to seek consent to vitiate cloture on the motion to proceed to the PROTECT IP Act. But the day will come when the Senators who forced this move will look back and realize they made a knee-jerk reaction to a monumental problem."
"Somewhere in China today, in Russia today, and in many other countries that do not respect American intellectual property, criminals who do nothing but peddle in counterfeit products and stolen American content are smugly watching how the United States Senate decided it was not even worth debating how to stop the overseas criminals from draining our economy," he added.
Someone sounds a little upset.
UPDATE: The L.A. Times reports that SOPA has been shelved once again. "I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith. "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."
Meanwhile, Hollywood is blasting Google for supporting anti-SOPA protests, claiming the search engine giant is distorting facts about what the bill would actually do. "The Protect IP Act does nothing more than make it possible for the U.S. government to handle illegal foreign websites in the same manner it can already do -- and has been doing -- with illegal sites," stated the unions that represent Hollywood talent. "It has no impact at all on the legal U.S. sites that people are being told will disappear."