The Internet was awarded a major victory Friday morning as Congress announced that they will indefinitely postpone voting on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).
The win, while a major success viewed in the eyes of advocates for a free and open Internet, is for the meantime, however, only a momentary one. Lawmakers hope that revamped legislation will be penned while Congress considers finding a fair balance that will appeal to both the entertainment industry lobbying for stricter laws and its array of opponents, largely represented by Silicon Valley and the Web.
“There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Friday morning in a prepared statement. While he condoned illegal activity on the Web, Senator Reid added that lawmakers will “continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans’ intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the Internet.”
The announcement comes only two days after a massive campaign on the Internet voluntarily blacked out some of the biggest sites on the Web, particularly Wikipedia and Reddit. Others that did not participate in the campaign but advertised strong opposition were Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, the website icanhazcheeseburger.com and rapper MC Hammer.
“We don’t want people who spend their days legislating trying to control creativity,” Hammer said. “I speak on behalf of a lot of artists … who would like to be able to continue to utilize the valuable tools that the Internet has brought.”
Following Wednesday’s massive blackout, at least 38 Senators either vowed to vote no on PIPA or were largely considering doing so. As RT reported on Thursday, however, entertainment industry bigwigs who remained opposed to the legislations were beginning to draw a rift within Washington with some Hollywood tycoons vowing to end donations to the campaign of Barack Obama due to the president’s anti-SOPA stance.
“God knows how much money we’ve given to Obama and the Democrats and yet they’re not supporting our interests,” one anonymous Hollywood insider told the website Deadline. “There’s been no greater supporters of him than we’ve been from the first day and the first fundraisers continuing until he was elected. We all were pleased. And, at its heart institutionally, Hollywood supports the Democrats. Now we need the administration to support us. This is a very important time for Hollywood.”
That same day, Barrett Brown, founder of the Project PM online collective, said hacktivists were waging a campaign against the congressmen who were still siding with Hollywood in regards to the legislations. Speaking to RT, he announced that his group would generate “a great deal of havoc” waged at pro-PIPA and SOPA lawmakers. A campaign earlier on Thursday participated in by members of the online group Anonymous crippled several entertainment industry and government websites due to an unrelated attack launched by the feds that morning on Megaupload, a file sharing site that has since gone offline and its affiliates charged with criminal counts of conspiracy and copyright infringement.
“Even without SOPA having been passed yet, the federal government always had tremendous power to do some of the things that they want to do. So if this is what can occur without SOPA being passed, imagine what can occur after SOPA is passed,” asked Brown.
“This is a war they plan on fighting until the end and so do we,” he added.
In that war, Friday’s announcement by way of Senator Reid reveals that the Internet and its advocates against SOPA and PIPA have been made the victors in what is certain to be just the first battle in a war that could very well go uphill for quite some time.
Early Friday, Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted, “You’ve been heard. #PIPA has been pulled so we can find a better solution.”