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It seems all the Internet campaigns are having some effect after all. First came word that the House of Representatives is delaying a vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) until there is consensus on the bill, reports the Hill. That came even as lawmakers appeared to be willing to bend a little on the bill’s initial provisions. Many technology giants, including Google and Facebook, have spoken up against SOPA and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) because they say it would infringe freedom of speech and limit innovation.
In a further sign that the Internet voices had been heard, the White House issued a statement on Saturday expressing wide-ranging concern about online piracy legislation in general. In a blog post, three administration officials said the White House is against any effort that would make it easier to increase censorship and harm legitimate businesses. "Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small," said the officials.
Many have interpreted the blog post as the White House “slamming SOPA and its counterpart in the Senate, the Protect IP Act,” as Forbes’ Andy Greenberg writes. But Politico sees things slightly differently, noting the blog post never actually states whether the president would support any of the two bills making their way through Congress. Politico says the White House is clearly trying to “walk a thin line” because the president has high-profile supporters in both Hollywood and Silicon Valley, two groups that have very different views on the bills. Reuters also points out that the statement didn’t actually make clear whether Obama would veto the legislation.
Still, it’s difficult to see how the administration’s “unusually blunt statement,” as the Los Angeles Times puts it, doesn’t represent a “setback for the major Hollywood studios and unions that have been mounting a lobbying campaign in support of the bills.” Still, this is not the time for opponents of the bills to claim victory, notes JD Rucker in Fast Company. Opponents of the bills should not be satisfied with simple dialing down of their provisions, but rather they should continue their campaigns until the legislation is thrown out, notes Rucker. "These bills need to be killed altogether," said the intellectual property director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Our view all along has been they are not fixable.”