SOPA sponsor pulls support for bill

Rep. Lamar Smith says the problem of online piracy is too big to ignore, but "it is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem."


Earlier this week, the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was dealt a serious setback when the House Oversight Committee chairman said that the legislation would not be put to a vote until there was consensus over the issue. Today, the bill's original sponsor joined the ranks of those distancing themselves from the bill, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued a statement with his reactions to the fate of SOPA and its Senate counterpart, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA).

Rep. Lamar Smith.
Rep. Lamar Smith.

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

While Smith said consideration of the bill is postponed for now, he called the problem of online piracy "too big to ignore" and said his committee would continue working with copyright holders and Internet outfits on ways to fight it.

SOPA drew much criticism for the methods by which it sought to squash piracy, among them DNS filtering, a practice by which SOPA would allow the government to block Americans' access to specific foreign sites suspected of engaging in piracy. While sponsors of SOPA and PIPA promised to drop the DNS filtering provisions last week, there remained sufficient outcry over the bill that online giants like Wikipedia and Google followed through with daylong changes to their websites to show their protest.

Companies that supported SOPA--including the National Football League (NFL) and GameSpot parent company CBS--argued that it offered necessary protection to content creators. Opponents of the bill, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argued that SOPA infringed upon First Amendment rights and would ultimately deprive the Internet of non-infringing content.

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