Politicians back down on piracy law following web protest

SOPA sponsors change mind on law after websites "go dark"

Nicole Kobie
19 Jan 2012

Several US politicians who had backed a pair of controversial anti-piracy bills have apparently changed their minds following a well-publicised online protest.

Yesterday, sites including Wikipedia shut down for the day to publicise the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Wikipedia said 162 million people saw its page asking users to find out about the proposed legislation and contact their representatives about it. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales said via Twitter that compares to about 25 to 30 million visitors on a normal day.

SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows

"SOPA and PIPA are not dead: they are waiting in the shadows," Wikipedia said in a statement on the site. "What’s happened in the last 24 hours, though, is extraordinary."

Indeed, over the past day, several US politicians have apparently changed their stance on the proposed laws - including some who had originally sponsored the bills.

Senators Roy Blunt, Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Boozman and Marco Rubio withdrew support for PIPA, with Rubio saying over Facebook: "Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the internet."

Congressmen Lee Terry and Ben Quayle have also reportedly changed sides on SOPA, saying they support an alternative, re-written version of the law.

Quayle, who co-sponsored the bill, said dealing with piracy was still important. "However, Representative Quayle believes that as the bill currently stands, it could have unintended consequences that need to be addressed before moving forward and these concerns led him to withdraw his name as a co-sponsor," his spokesman told a US newspaper.

PIPA will face a Senate vote next week, while SOPA will be back in front of Congress next month.

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