"After an Online Firestorm, Congress Shelves Antipiracy Bills" by JONATHAN WEISMAN, New York Times 1/20/2012
Congressional leaders on Friday indefinitely shelved two antipiracy bills that had rallied the Internet and rocked Capitol Hill, dealing a major defeat to the traditional media industry while emboldening a new breed of online political activists.
Using a medium that helped organize protests against the legislation, Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, announced via Twitter that the vote would be delayed. But he indicated that the issue, which had been scheduled for a vote Tuesday, had not died.
“There’s no reason that legitimate issues raised about PROTECT IP can’t be resolved,” he wrote, referring to the Senate bill by its shorthand name. “Counterfeiting & piracy cost 1000s of #jobs yearly. Americans rightfully expect to be fairly compensated 4 their work. I’m optimistic that we can reach compromise on PROTECT IP in coming week.”
In the House, Representative Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called off plans to formally draft his version of the antipiracy bill next month.
After vowing two days ago to move forward, Mr. Smith said in a statement on Friday: “The committee remains committed to finding a solution to the problem of online piracy that protects American intellectual property and innovation.” But he added, “The House Judiciary Committee will postpone consideration of the legislation until there is wider agreement on a solution.”
Speaker John A. Boehner, talking with reporters Friday in Baltimore, where House Republicans held their annual retreat, called the bill “well meaning,” but said it needed “more consensus.”
Supporters of the shelved bills as well as opponents pushing an alternative backed by the Internet giants Google and Facebook said differences could be bridged. But privately, Congressional aides and lobbyists say the pressures of an election year make action this year unlikely. Lawmakers will not be eager to brave another firestorm incited by Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and other popular Web sites.
Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and a key opponent of the bills, said lawmakers had collected more than 14 million names — more than 10 million of them voters — who contacted them to protest the once-obscure legislation.