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Many Lawmakers Withdraw SOPA and PIPA Support Following Internet Protest

by Brandon Russell | January 19, 2012January 19, 2012 3:30 pm PDT

BlindfoldMany hard hitting government officials withdrew their support this week for two controversial anti-piracy bills, better known as SOPA and PIPA. A unified Internet demonstrated its staunch opposition for the bills by protesting and going dark, the largest and most talked about participants being Wikipedia and Reddit. TechnoBuffalo took a stance, too.

Other sites, including Google, actively censored themselves to draw attention to bills aimed at cutting off access to websites that traffic in pirated material. But opposers say the bills are terribly flawed. Each site offered a way to get involved: contact your local government official to voice your opinion. It seems our voices were loud and clear. Even lawmakers who vehemently supported the two bills changed their minds, admitting that a better solution needs to be introduced.

“We can find a solution that will protect lawful content. But this bill is flawed & that’s why I’m withdrawing my support. #SOPA #PIPA,” Republican Sen. Roy Blunt wrote on his official Twitter page.

We reported yesterday that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio was one of the first to reverse his stance as a PIPA co-sponsor. Many others have followed suit.

But even with many lawmakers withdrawing support, these bills still stand a chance of being passed. As seen on Wikipedia’s page on Thursday: “Your voice was loud and strong. Millions of people have spoken in defense of a free and open Internet. We’re not done yet.”

As an example of what a censored Internet would entail, managing editor of Boing Boing, Rob Beschizza, said, “In the past, the media industry has often gone after particular infringers — people who have downloaded stuff off the Internet and sharing it. And now they’re going after websites that link to these things. The bill is supposed to let copyright holders get court orders against them, and there’s all sorts of various measures for getting sites blacklisted or blocked. The problem is that the measures are so wide-ranging and so open to abuse that we’re worried that sites like [Boing Boing] could be brought down by frivolous claims.”

Beschizza’s explanation would apply to millions of similar websites across the Internet, including TechnoBuffalo.

SOPA critics have expressed frustration with the bill’s supporters because critics say backers, “don’t understand the Internet’s architecture, and therefore don’t appreciate the implications of the legislation they’re considering.”

Supporters, like Time Warner and the MPAA, argue that the legislation is meant to fix a system that encourages criminal behavior.

Not every SOPA and PIPA supporter is bailing on these bills but, because of local and nationwide efforts, users have taken steps toward defeating a censored Internet.

Did you call your local government official yesterday?

[CNN]


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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