Senate delays online piracy vote in wake of protests
US Senate leader Harry Reid has postponed next week's vote on a bill to fight online piracy amid fierce resistance by Internet companies including Wikipedia and Google, who fear overregulation and censorship.
AFP - US Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Friday that he was delaying next week's scheduled vote on a controversial bill aimed at cracking down on online piracy.
"In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote on the Protect IP Act," Reid said in a statement two days after Wikipedia and Google led a wave of online protest against the legislation.
"There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved," Reid said.
"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," he said.
US congressional support for the legislation -- the Protect IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House of Representatives -- has been eroding in the face of the online protests which branded the bills a danger to Internet freedom.
Republican House speaker John Boehner said Wednesday there was a "lack of consensus at this point" on the House version of the bill and it would need further work in committee.
Wikipedia shut down the English-language version of its online encyclopedia for 24 hours on Wednesday to protest the legislation and Google blotted out the logo on its US home page with a black banner.
In his statement, Reid said "counterfeiting and piracy cost the American economy billions of dollars and thousands of jobs each year, with the movie industry alone supporting over 2.2 million jobs.
"We must take action to stop these illegal practices," he said. "We live in a country where people rightfully expect to be fairly compensated for a day's work."
Reid urged a co-sponsor of the bill, Senator Patrick Leahy, to "continue engaging with all stakeholders to forge a balance between protecting Americans' intellectual property, and maintaining openness and innovation on the Internet."
Another co-sponsor of the Protect IP Act, Senator Marco Rubio, withdrew his support for the bill on Wednesday saying Congress should "avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences" on the Internet.