Reid punts on PIPA

posted at 11:35 am on January 20, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

And now, Cowboy Poetry Corner:

There once was a cowboy from Searchlight

Who tried to grab power through copyright

Reid’s Hollywood backers

Tried to claim all were hackers

But the Internet roped Reid in the fight.

Yeah, the meter’s off a bit, but I’m pretty sure I qualify for a government subsidy anyway.  And now, Harry Reid will have more time on his hands to get me the cowboy poetry cash, too:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., will postpone a cloture vote on a controversial bill to crack down on foreign websites that use pirated content. His move comes after a public campaign by websites concerned the bill would expose them to lawsuits turned once bipartisan support for the measure to strong opposition in both parties.

“In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act,” Reid said in a statement. …

The vote was put off despite Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy’s continued efforts to cut a deal on an amendment that addressed critics’ concerns. Reid did not say when the bill may come up again.

That’s about as clear a retreat as one will see.  It’s an admission that PIPA and its companion House bill SOPA have become so toxic that they can’t be amended into acceptability. In order to proceed on a bill to act in protection of copyright and intellectual property, Congress will have to start from scratch, with a process that doesn’t give the federal government plenary powers to seize internet traffic without the proper run of due process.

Reid could try to keep PIPA off the agenda for a few weeks and try again later, with some amendments, but as it gets close to the election, the worse the stink will be.  PIPA and SOPA have bipartisan opposition, and the more Reid keeps pushing it, the more Republicans benefit from the fight.  Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) became the latest Republican co-sponsor to abandon the effort, calling to scrap the bills entirely:

Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, an early co-sponsor of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), delivered a statement Thursday evening on Facebook renouncing her support of the bill in its current form. …

“It’s clear that online piracy legislation in its current form is not workable,” said Blackburn. “It’s time to scrap the bill and start over. I will continue to work with my colleagues to find the best possible solution to ensure the constitutionally guaranteed property rights of our nation’s innovators are protected.”

Well, every cowboy sings a sad, sad song … and Reid was starting to sing it solo.  The entertainment industry will double down on its pressure to get PIPA and SOPA revived, but don’t expect to see it this session, at least not in anything like its current form, and certainly not with the current bill titles.


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