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SOPA Put on Hold, White House Says Online Piracy Bill 'Reduces Freedom of Expression

Murdoch: 'So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.'

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which has already seen widespread opposition from a bipartisan mix of liberal and conservative political blogs and websites, appears to have found a coalition of opposition in Washington for the moment. The Hill reports that House Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa said early Saturday morning that Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor promised him that the House will not vote on the controversial act unless there is a consensus on the bill. Resistance from Republican leadership in the House to the bill as it is now comes as the Obama administration raised concerns Saturday that the act would undermine "the dynamic, innovative global Internet."

The Hill notes that Rep. Issa's announcement was made just hours after Judiciary Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, SOPA's sponsor, made a major concession to the bill's critics by agreeing to drop a controversial provision that would have required Internet service providers to block infringing websites.

"While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act (PIPA), I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House," Rep. Issa, who has close ties with the technology community and has been an outspoken critic to SOPA, said in a statement Saturday. PIPA is SOPA's Senate counterpart.

"Majority Leader Cantor has assured me that we will continue to work to address outstanding concerns and work to build consensus prior to any anti-piracy legislation coming before the House for a vote."

White House officials said in a blog post Saturday that the administration would not support pending legislation that "reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk" or undermines the global Internet, cautioning the measure could discourage innovation and startup businesses.

SOPA was designed with the intent to authorize the Attorney General to seek a court order against foreign websites that commit online privacy by freely offering illegal copies of music, movies and TV shows. However, tech companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others have questioned the legislation, warning in a Nov. 15 letter that it would force new liabilities and mandates on law-abiding technology companies and require them to monitor websites, the Associated Press reports.

"We are concerned that these measures pose a serious risk to our industry's continued track record of innovation and job-creation, as well as to our nation's cybersecurity," the letter stated.

A House Oversight Committee hearing to examine the bill's site-blocking provision had been scheduled for Wednesday but is now postponed in light of Smith's decision to drop the provision.

Issa said that even without the site-blocking provision, the bill is "fundamentally flawed."

The White House says it will continue to work with Congress on legislation to help battle piracy and counterfeiting while defending free expression, privacy, security and innovation in the Internet.

UPDATE: News Corporation Chairman Rupert Murdoch has been vehemently expressing his opinion of those who support SOPA via Twitter this evening:

One last thing…
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