WASHINGTON -- Most Long Island lawmakers in Congress turned against bills to stem overseas piracy of movies and music during last week's digital tsunami of protests against what critics called the measures' side effects harming free speech and entrepreneurs.
The bills had a smooth ride through the House and Senate, but came to a grinding halt after well-publicized Internet protests. Both versions on Friday were withdrawn for revision.
The protests, which included Wikipedia blacking out its site for a day and a street demonstration in Manhattan, shattered the bill's bipartisan backing and forced lawmakers on the sidelines to take a position.
Long Island's four Democratic House members had said they were undecided. But last week, they came out against the House version, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA.
Those backing the bills had to adjust quickly.
New York's Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand co-sponsored the Senate's Protect IP Act, or PIPA. But as opposition grew, Schumer tried to work out compromise language with critics. Gillibrand also reached out to the bill's opponents.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) stood by SOPA. But after it was withdrawn Friday, he said he backs a stab at "negotiating a meaningful compromise."
Many politicians took to Facebook on Friday to reassure critics of SOPA and PIPA.
"I say to New York's tech community: we have heard you," Schumer posted on his Facebook page.
"Senator [Harry] Reid's decision to pull a vote on PIPA from the Senate calendar is the right one and will allow Congress to work with stakeholders to craft a better solution," he said.
"Glad to hear the news that SOPA is being taken back to the drawing board in the House, and that the Senate will delay a vote on PIPA pending further revisions," read a post on the Facebook page of Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton).
"There has been an outpouring of democracy in action over the last several weeks on PIPA & SOPA," Gillibrand wrote in her Facebook posting. "It is time for Congress to take a step back and start over."
Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) also posted on his Facebook page, and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Rosyln Heights) thanked "hundreds of constituents who contacted my office."
Both sides agree steps are needed to curb foreign websites that infringe on copyrights and traffic in movies, music and books at an estimated $135 billion loss annually.
But critics charge SOPA and PIPA contain sections to block overseas pirate websites that would have the unintended consequence of blocking legitimate U.S. websites, and that would curb free speech and impede entrepreneurial Internet businesses.
The protests brought a counterbalance to the well-financed push for the bill by the movie, music and book industry, unions and others groups. They also shattered what had been bipartisan support for the legislation.