The lead sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) legislation, Republican Senator Lamar Smith, has revealed he will be postponing a SOPA markup hearing on the bill after taking into account people’s concerns about the controversial act.
Smith said he would halt his pursuit of the bill until there is wider agreement on a solution to combating piracy.
Earlier this week, SOPA was stopped in its tracks by Virginia Republican Representative Eric Cantor.
His statement came after SOPA’s sister act PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) was indefinitely postponed by Senate majority leader Harry Reid.
Smith, however, emphasised his determination to protect America’s creative industries from internet piracy.
It also came after a week of unprecedented protests online against the SOPA and PIPA bills, which many believe would lead to censorship and would undermine the internet’s core architecture.
He said: “The online theft of American intellectual property is no different than the theft of products from a store. It is illegal and the law should be enforced both in the store and online. The committee will continue work with both copyright owners and internet companies to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property.”
His statement reads:
“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.
“The problem of online piracy is too big to ignore. American intellectual property industries provide 19m high-paying jobs and account for more than 60pc of US exports. The theft of America’s intellectual property costs the US economy more than $100bn 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.
“The online theft of American intellectual property is no different than the theft of products from a store. It is illegal and the law should be enforced both in the store and online.
“The committee will continue work with both copyright owners and internet companies to develop proposals that combat online piracy and protect America’s intellectual property. We welcome input from all organisations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem. The committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.”