Senate, House Scuttle Online Piracy Bills

By | January 20, 2012

Senate and House leaders have put their online piracy bills on the back burner after a week of heavy lobbying by technology industry critics of the bills.

“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,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said in a statement. He said the House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) said “that in light of recent events,” he has decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the Senate’s own online privacy bill, Protect IP Act.

Technology interests this week ramped up the pressure on Congress to scuttle the two bills, the House of Representative’s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Senate’s Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act.

Both leaders said they remain committed to passing legislation and will work with intellectual property owners seeking protective legislation and Internet entrepreneurs who fear such laws threaten the freedom and innovation of the Internet to find a solution.

“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy. 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,” said Smith. “The problem of online piracy is too big to ignore.”

According to the House committee, intellectual property industries provide 19 million high-paying jobs and account for more than 60 percent of U.S. exports. The theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs.

“Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while American innovators and job creators are under attack,” said Smith

Reid said there is “no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many” about the online privacy legislation cannot be resolved.

“We made good progress through the discussions we’ve held in recent days, and I am optimistic that we can reach a compromise in the coming weeks, Reid said.

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