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SOPA shelved, for now
SOPA shelved, for now
January 20, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Lamar Smith has postponed the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act he authored, after facing staunch opposition from major tech/internet companies, several game developers, and a growing number of legislators.

The House Judiciary Committee Chairman intended to have SOPA passed next month, but days after a number of websites (e.g. Wikipedia, Reddit, and Gamasutra) shut down to protest the bill, the Committee has suspended its consideration of the legislation for an indefinite period of time until it can achieve "a wider agreement on a solution."

"I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy," says Texas Representative Smith. "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."

Smith introduced SOPA with a dozen co-sponsors last October as a way for copyright holders and the U.S. government to combat online piracy. Many argued against the bill in recent months, though, due to a contentious provision that could immediately block access to online game content or communities accused of violating copyright law, among other issues.

Though trade group Entertainment Software Association supported the bill, a number of game companies and ESA members condemned it over that provision -- including Gears of War and Unreal Engine maker Epic Games, League of Legends developer Riot Games, GPU manufacturer Nvidia, Microsoft, and several others.

Smith attempted to placate SOPA's critics last Friday by removing the provision that would force internet service providers block access to sites accused of hosting copyrighted materials, but many continued their campaign against the bill as they sought to have it revised exhaustively or dismissed altogether.

Opposition against SOPA came to a head this week as the White House denounced the bill, dozens of legislators voiced their disapproval while several of the bill's original co-sponsors withdrew their support, and major U.S. websites "blacked out" on Wednesday to raise awareness about the bill's internet censorship implications.

This setback for SOPA comes hours after voting for its sister bill in the Senate, the Protect IP Act, was also suspended by Senate majority leader Harry Reid. PIPA also aimed to block access to sites accused of being dedicated to copyright and trademark infringement, and received many of the same criticisms SOPA suffered.

Despite SOPA's postponement, Smith says online piracy is too big to ignore: "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."

"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," he adds. "We welcome input from all organizations and individuals who have an honest difference of opinion about how best to address this widespread problem."

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