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Smith Joins Leahy In Dropping Disputed Website-Blocking Proposal Smith Joins Leahy In Dropping Disputed Website-Blocking Proposal

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Congress

Smith Joins Leahy In Dropping Disputed Website-Blocking Proposal

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, right, accompanied by Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., speaks during a news conference on Capitol in Washington, Monday, April 4, 2011, to discuss their efforts to thwart the harm done to the economy by online vendors dealing in counterfeit goods or copyright infringement.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

January 13, 2012

Following the lead of his counterpart in the Senate, House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, announced on Friday that he will drop a proposal that Internet service providers block foreign websites that feature pirated content.

The provision is part of Smith's controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, which aims to reduce pirated content and counterfeit products online. But certain parts, including a requirement that ISPs block certain websites, have been met with sharp criticism.

"After consultation with industry groups across the country, I feel we should remove Domain Name System blocking from the Stop Online Piracy Act so that the Committee can further examine the issues surrounding this provision," Smith said in a statement. "We will continue to look for ways to ensure that foreign websites cannot sell and distribute illegal content to U.S. consumers."

On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he would drop that so-called "domain name system blocking" provision from his version of the bill.

The move by both chairmen earned praise from the bills' critics.

"It appears that lawmakers are beginning to realize how much damage their anti-'piracy' bills could cause to the Internet and to Internet-related businesses," Public Knowledge deputy legal director Sherwin Siy said in a statement. Still, the proposed amendments aren't enough, Siy said. "While we are pleased that some progress is being made, we are also firm in our opposition to both bills because some very bad provisions remain."

The time line for considering each bill remains somewhat uncertain. The House version has not been scheduled for markup while some in the Senate are objecting to a planned cloture vote at the end of this month.

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