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Web blackout marks turning point in SOPA and PIPA debate

Opponents of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act cheered Wednesday’s Web blackout as a turning point in the debate over the two controversial copyright protection bills.

The blackout seems to have shifted momentum in favour of opponents. Several lawmakers have also voiced new opposition and the White House appearing to distance itself from the two bills.

Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and opponent of the two bills, also praised participants in the Web blackout for educating the public about the issue. The Web blackout led to widespread media coverage of the opposition to SOPA and PIPA.

“This unprecedented effort [of the Web blackout] has turned the tide against a backroom lobbying effort by interests that aren’t used to being told ‘no’. I know suspending and changing access to sites was not necessarily an easy decision, but this is a responsible and transparent exercise of freedom of speech,” said Californian Republican representative Darrell Issa.

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and lead sponsor of the PIPA bill, said many of the concerns about it are “flatly wrong”.

“No one disputes that copyright infringement and counterfeiting on the Internet must be addressed. Hiding behind the black box of self-censorship does not resolve the problem that is plaguing American business and hurting American consumers,” Leahy said.

Protesting to protect foreign criminals “is irresponsible, will cost American jobs, and is just wrong,” Leahy added.

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