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January 16, 2012

SOPA Stopped in House Until “Consensus” Reached

Posted in: Uncategorized

In the end, it was not necessarily the White House’s opposition as much as the pressure on House Republicans that has all but doomed anti-piracy legislation for the year. Darrell Issa, who along with Ron Wyden has been out in front of the opposition to SOPA and PIPA, the respective bills on this issue, says that he secured a promise from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor that no bill will hit the House floor without “consensus.”

“While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” Issa said in a statement. “Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote.”

The announcement comes just hours after Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), SOPA’s sponsor, made a major concession to the bill’s critics by agreeing to drop a controversial provision that would have required Internet service providers to block infringing websites [...]

Issa said that even without the site-blocking provision, the bill is “fundamentally flawed.”

“Right now, the focus of protecting the Internet needs to be on the Senate where Majority Leader Reid has announced his intention to try to move similar legislation in less than two weeks,” he said.

While some Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have asked Reid to postpone a vote on that legislation, so far the schedule still shows that PIPA will come up for a vote. And this has animated the grassroots community into action, with their SOPA strike scheduled for Wednesday.

But with the House unwilling to act, and the President’s advisors opposed to many aspects of the bill, even if the Senate breaks with the growing opposition and passes their version of the legislation, I don’t think we’ll see a House counterpart this year. I’m sure the coalition will not just mothball at this point. Legislation could come up in future years. The entertainment conglomerates have deep pockets and want to use the power of the federal government to maximize their profits. This should become an issue in local races, particularly in communities with major tech presences.

But for now, this means that legislation which was routinely and seemingly inescapably moving toward passage got stopped, when at first a small group of activists rallied opposition to it. That’s a hopeful sign for our democracy early in this election year.

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