The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act, two bills that would have relied on payment companies to block funding to websites accused of content theft, were put on hold Friday.
Senator Harry Reid said Friday he would not bring the Protect IP Act to its scheduled vote in the Senate. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Lamar Smith, who chairs the House's Judiciary Committee, said the committee would postpone consideration of the Stop Online Piracy Act .
There may be another attempt to bring forward legislation on the issue, Reid said in a press release. "There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved," he said.
"It is clear that we need to revisit the approach on how best to address the problem" of copyright infringement,” Smith said in the release.
The bills came under fire for what many considered to be an excessive response to the issue of Internet piracy. For example, critics said, a social-networking site could find all of its ad revenue blocked if just one of its users was accused of uploading an infringing video.
To protest the bills, many prominent Internet sites, including Google and Wikipedia, orchestrated partial blackouts on Jan. 18 to illustrate the potential harm they expect if the bills were to become law. Several members of Congress withdrew their support for the bills that day.
Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide were listed as supporters of SOPA, though in a November hearing MasterCard said it doubted that payment companies could realistically comply with the specific requirements of their enforcement role.