Senate internet piracy bill shelved; Udall thanks protesters for support

The U.S. Senate has postponed voting on the controversial anti-online piracy Protect IP Act (PIPA), the upper chamber’s version of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which was pushed hard by entertainment corporations over the last two years but shelved in the House this week after a massive opposition movement saw top internet sites shutdown in protest and citizen emails swamp Capitol Hill servers.

Colorado U.S. Sen Mark Udall was an early critic of the bills and welcomed news that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had pushed PIPA off the senate agenda.

“I want to thank the many Coloradans who spoke out loud and strong on this critically important issue,” Udall was quoted to say in a release. “Internet piracy is a serious problem, but the Protect IP Act would have had serious unintended consequences to innovation, cyber security and free speech that we simply can’t risk. Thanks to the millions of Americans who have made their voices heard, Senate leaders have decided to look for a better balance that will protect intellectual property while maintaining the open Internet. I stand ready to work with any of my colleagues to ensure whatever legislation we ultimately consider protects Internet-based innovation, security and free speech.”

In the end, the Colorado delegation, led by Udall and Rep Jared Polis (CD2), overwhelmingly came out against the bills, including Republican Reps Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman. Senator Michael Bennet, originally a co-sponsor of the bill, retreated in response to concerns raised by constituents, he said.

Bennet was not alone by a long shot. Support for the bills swung wildly to opposition over the last two days, seeing traditional hundred-million-dollar lobbying efforts in support of the bills crumble under the weight of aggressive pushback from the tech industry and citizens from across the political spectrum.

ProPublica graphs visualizing shifting positions among lawmakers on the bills from Wednesday to Thursday as the bills were set to come up for votes rocketed around digital social networks.

The entertainment industry has long been working to remake the internet to restrict the “frictionless” sharing of material that defines it, working to bolster the country’s already sweeping copyright laws to give legal teams broad power to shutdown sites and wring settlements from startups and individual web users.