On Wednesday, Reuters reported that some members of Congress had switched sides to oppose the anti-piracy legislation. The news arrived while "protests blanketed the Internet" as websites visually displayed their stance against SOPA and PIPA whether it was a simple link to anti-SOPA material, or a complete website blackout. Even one game developer launched a non-profit organization to protest against the ESA which in turn supports the legislation instead of the wishes of the enlisted "artists" and "content providers" it supposedly protects.
All the while, several sponsors of the legislation, including Senators Roy Blunt, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch and John Boozman and Marco Rubio, announced their withdrawal of support for the legislation. 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 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. Still, all those that formerly opposed the legislation said they still supported taking action against online piracy.
After reports surfaced about the rejection, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) issued a statement in response, acknowledging that many people may be nervous due to the "misinformation" about the bill, but pronounced his own confidence in the facts which will overcome their fears. Eventually he states that the legislation -- SOPA in particular -- will not censor the Internet despite reports.
"Contrary to critics’ claims, SOPA does not censor the Internet," he states. "It only targets activity that is already illegal, and only targets foreign websites that steal and sell America’s technology, inventions and products. And it is similar to laws that already govern websites based in the U.S."
"I am open to constructive suggestions that protect American inventors and intellectual property rights holders," he continues. "Unfortunately, some critics simply want to maintain the status quo which harms U.S. companies, consumers and innovators. Illegal piracy and counterfeiting cost the U.S. economy $100 billion and thousands of jobs every year. Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while some of America’s most profitable and productive industries are under attack."
"We need strong and effective legislation to protect American technology and put foreign thieves out of business," he concludes. "I will continue to work to address legitimate concerns and encourage members and stakeholders to provide substantive recommendations for how best to address the problem of online theft."
Chairman Smith said that Congress will continue to work with members, outside organizations and stakeholders to reach consensus and produce "strong legislation that protects both intellectual property and technology."