Internet censorship bills postponed

Shaina James

Congressional leaders announced Friday they would postpone the two bills aiming to prevent online piracy, after several top Internet websites protested.

The senate bill, Protect IP Act (PIPA) and the house bill, Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) were created to stop illegal downloads of copyrighted material, such as movies and music. The bills are supported by Hollywood studios and music recording companies who are losing money because of illegal downloads.

“The problem of online piracy is too big to ignore. American intellectual property industries provide 19 million high-paying jobs and account for more than 60 percent of U.S. exports,” said Republican congressman Lamar Smith or Texas in a news release. “The theft of America’s intellectual property costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while American innovators and job creators are under attack.”

Smith is the creator of the SOPA bill. In a news release he said the House Judiciary Committee will work with copyright owners and Internet companies to develop proposals that work for all parties.

When major companies like Google and Wikipedia protested for one day it was unlikely that the SOPA and PIPA bills would pass unless they were reworked.

“I am truly impressed at Wikipedia’s, etc., ability to get this issue on everyone’s radar screen,” said Steven Nelson, political science professor. “Very few pieces of legislation have ever gone from obscurity to the front page in such dramatic fashion, especially proposed legislation.”

Nelson also believes the legislation has the potential to protect an individual’s rights to profit from their own property and works but at the same time people value free and relatively unrestricted communication, along with privacy.

“SOPA is a stab, possibly futile, at bringing policy up to speed with technology,” Nelson said.

Instead of talking to the press, many state senators have statements on their website with their opinion and what should be done about these two bills.

“I’m concerned about the current version of the bill. I’ve been meeting with concerned people on all sides of the issue, and hearing from many constituents,” said Michigan senator Carl Levin in a statement dated Jan. 18. “The Judiciary Committee is reworking the bill, and I’ll review the revised version carefully when it’s available.”

Contact Michigan state senators with comments or suggestions. Carl Levin’s information can be found at and Debbie Stabenow’s information can be found at