SOPA and PIPA: Web protests seem to be a turning point

Opponents of the bills say Wednesday's protests have turned the tide against the copyright legislation

By , IDG News Service |  Government

SOPA protest

Protesters gather to demonstrate against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) being considered by Congress, at City Hall in San Francisco, California January 18, 2012.

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act cheered Wednesday's Web blackout as a turning point in the debate over the two controversial copyright protection bills.

Momentum in the debate over PIPA and SOPA seems to have shifted in favor of opponents in recent days, with several lawmakers voicing new opposition, and the White House appearing to distance itself from the two bills. The Web blackout Wednesday may be remembered as one of the first successful online uprisings in the U.S., but leaders in the U.S. Senate still planned to begin voting on PIPA next Tuesday.

Representative Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, blacked out her own website to protest the bills. "History is being made by the more than 10,000 websites that have chosen to boycott SOPA by participating in today's blackout," she tweeted.

Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and opponent of the two bills, also praised participants in the Web blackout for educating the public about the issue. The Web blackout led to widespread media coverage of the opposition to SOPA and PIPA.

"This unprecedented effort has turned the tide against a backroom lobbying effort by interests that aren't used to being told 'no,'" Issa said in a statement. "I know suspending and changing access to sites was not necessarily an easy decision, but this is a responsible and transparent exercise of freedom of speech."

On Tuesday, Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, called the Web protest a "stunt" and a "gimmick."

Many of the concerns about PIPA are "flatly wrong," added Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill.

"No one disputes that copyright infringement and counterfeiting on the Internet must be addressed," Leahy said in a statement. "Hiding behind the black box of self-censorship does not resolve the problem that is plaguing American business and hurting American consumers. "

Protesting to protect foreign criminals "is irresponsible, will cost American jobs, and is just wrong," Leahy added.

Here's what to expect next after Wednesday's protests.

What's happening with PIPA?

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