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Internet companies gave Congress in lesson in real power this week when an unprecedented, web-based protest flooded House and Senate offices with emails and phone calls and brought two bills aimed at online piracy to a screeching halt.
Both the House and Senate postponed action on bills.
“I have heard from the critics and I take seriously their concerns regarding proposed legislation to address the problem of online piracy,” House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith said. “It is clear we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem of foreign thieves that steal and sell American inventions and products.”
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid postponed a vote scheduled next week.
“In light of recent events we need to take a second look,” Reid said.
“This sucker is dead in the water until it is revised, rewritten or scrapped,” a Reid aide told Capitol Hill Blue.
“Recent events” included a number of web sites that went dark for a day or part of a day to protest the Proticet IP Act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), both of which claimed to be aimed solely at foreign sites that deal in pirated content but which many believed would give the government too much regulatory power over domestic Internet operations.
The online protest generated hundreds of thousands of emails and phone calls to Congressional office.