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Two PROTECT IP sponsors drop support for their own bill

Politicians scatter in the face of public ire

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Two of the co-sponsors of the PROTECT IP anti-piracy bill currently working its way through Congress have dropped support for the legislation.

“I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act,” said Florida Senator Marco Rubio on his Facebook page. “Furthermore, I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor. Instead, we should take more time to address the concerns raised by all sides, and come up with new legislation that addresses internet piracy while protecting free and open access to the internet.”

Shortly after Rubio’s announcement another of the co-sponsors (there are eleven cited in Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy’s bill) announced he was dropping his support. Missouri Senator Roy Blunt took to Facebook to decry legislation that he had initially been so keen on.

“The right to free speech is one of the most basic foundations that makes our nation great, and I strongly oppose sanctioning Americans’ right to free speech in any medium – including over the internet,” his post reads. “I continue to believe that we can come to a solution that will cut off the revenue sources for foreign websites dedicated to counterfeiting and piracy that steal American jobs, hurt the economy, and harm consumers. But the PROTECT IP Act is flawed as it stands today, and I cannot support it moving forward.”

Both claimed that they had changed their minds because the Democrats were trying to rush the vote for January 24, and don't mention the public and private opposition being expressed. The PROTECT IP Act, aka PIPA, and the proposed SOPA legislation are the source of today’s internet blackout by a host of websites, and public demonstrations in larger US cities are also being planned.

Not one to be left out, Texan Senator John Cornyn also used Facebook to announce that he was dropping his support to SOPA and related legislation. He said that the legislation was too far-reaching to ram through Congress and said it was as flawed as President Obama’s health plan.

“SOPA: better to get this done right rather than fast and wrong. Stealing content is theft, plain and simple, but concerns about unintended damage to the internet and innovation in the tech sector require a more thoughtful balance, which will take more time,” he posted.

These latest defections may not be enough to kill the proposed legislation however. If enough support remains, they could be pushed through, and while the White House has indicated its unhappiness with the bills as they stand, the President isn’t committing to a veto. ®

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