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Whitehouse Will Not Support SOPA, Congress Backpedals Hard

January 16, 2012

The internet is fucking awesome.

Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, has been shelved in the senate because people on the internet were willing to stand up and say “No. This is not how America works.” Six GOP congressmen who supported SOPA from the beginning have now backpedaled, calling for it to be delayed to allow a review of the bill. They cited concerns of their constituents as the reason.

That’s you guys.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) pulled his support from SOPA after Reddit launched a campaign to raise money for his opponent, who also opposes SOPA. The campaign raised more than fifteen thousand dollars in less than two days. He has since decided to oppose SOPA.

You guys again.

Lamaar Smith (R-TX), the sponsor of the bill, has removed one of the most controversial portions of the bill, dealing with DNS blocking (The same method used in the Great Firewall of China and against the protesters in Iran…holy shit, three years ago), from the bill. Due again to backlash from constituents and industry groups.

Still you guys.

And finally, The White House has formally announced that the president will not support the bill, saying in an official blog post that “While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber security risk, or undermines the dynamic innovative global Internet.” The White House took this stance because of petitions on the White House’s petition website, We The People, one of them with nearly sixty thousand signatures.

The internet is fucking awesome.

EDIT: If there’s anything you know you’re going to need from Wkipedia on Wednesday, look it up before midnight Tuesday night, because Wikipedia is going dark to protest SOPA and PIPA. I would have the text of the page for Haunted Prison saved in a notepad, but neither Wikipedia or TVTropes know anything about them. I’m beginning to suspect that noontime Wednesday, I will envy them.

EDIT REDUX: There are a few congressional responses I’d like to share with you. First is from Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL 10).

Because of your strong concerns with online piracy bills currently under consideration in Congress like H.R. 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), I thought you might be interested to learn of recent events in this regard.

On January 17th, after thoroughly reviewing the draft version of SOPA, you will be pleased to know that I formally expressed my opposition to this legislation with my colleagues on the House Judiciary Committee, which has since suspended deliberations on this controversial measure.  As you are fully aware, H.R. 3261, a bill that I never sponsored in the first place, was introduced earlier this Congress in an attempt to prevent online threats to economic creativity and theft of intellectual property.

While it is important that we protect copyrighted material, like you, I feel we can address this issue without restricting the Internet. Our democracy is founded on certain unalienable rights including the freedom of speech and expression.  Unfortunately, the current version of SOPA would violate this basic right and is nothing more than modern day censorship. The Internet belongs to the people and instead we must support policies in Congress that promote a free and boundless world wide web.

And second, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and a former co-sponsor of PROTECT IP in the Senate.

Thank you for contacting me regarding Internet piracy legislation. I would like to take this opportunity to address your concerns on this important issue.

As you may be aware, on May 12, 2011, Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) introduced the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP/ PIPA, S. 968), which is meant to curb the online theft of intellectual property, much of which is occurring through rogue websites overseas in China. As a senator from Florida, a state with a large presence of artists, creators and businesses connected to the creation of intellectual property, I have a strong interest in stopping online piracy that costs Florida jobs. It was with this in mind that I was previously a co-sponsor of the PROTECT IP Act. I believe it’s important to protect American ingenuity, ideas and jobs from being stolen through Internet piracy. However, we must do this while simultaneously promoting an open, dynamic Internet environment that is ripe for innovation and can promote new technologies.

Last summer, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill unanimously and without controversy. Since then, I’ve heard from a number of Floridians who have raised legitimate concerns about the impact this bill could have on Internet access, as well as a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government’s authority to impact the Internet. Congress should listen and avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.

Therefore, I have decided to withdraw my support for the PROTECT IP Act. Furthermore, I have encouraged Majority Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor. Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses Internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the Internet. Please know that I will remain mindful of your concerns should this, or similar legislation, such as the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA, H.R. 3261), come before the Senate for consideration.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. It is an honor and privilege to serve the people of Florida. If I can be of any further help to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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