Sen. John Boozman

Responding to a groundswell of Arkansas opposition to the Protect-IP Act (PIPA), the Senate equivalent of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), U.S. Sen. John Boozman, has withdrawn his support for the bill.

“Over the past few weeks, the chorus of concerns over Congressional efforts to address online piracy has intensified,” Boozman wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon. “I can say, with all honesty, that the feedback I received from Arkansans has been overwhelmingly in opposition to (the bill) in its current form. That is why I am announcing today that I intend to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act.”

Boozman, an Arkansas Republican, said he will have his name removed as a co-sponsor of the bill and plans to vote against it if  Majority Leader Harry Reid brings it to the floor in its current form.

Protect IP is a controversial piece of anti-piracy legislation that opponents view as Internet censorship. They are concerned about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and potential expansion of the federal government’s power to impact the Internet.

“The Protect IP Act seeks to address an issue that is of vital importance to the future of intellectual property rights in the modern era,” Boozman wrote. “However, the concerns regarding the unintended consequences of this particular bill are legitimate.  Therefore, we should not rush to pass this bill, rather we should be working to find another solution so that the epidemic of online piracy is addressed in a manner that ensures innovation and free speech is protected.  I have confidence that we can do this, but not as the Protect IP Act stands today.

“Online piracy hinders creativity and steals jobs,” Boozman said. “Much of this criminal behavior comes from rogue websites operating in countries like Russia and China.  Their ability to operate threatens American ingenuity by distributing copyrighted material free of charge.  We must work to ensure that copyright holders are protected if we want to defend American ingenuity, ideas and artwork.

“The goals of the Protect IP Act are commendable, but the potential for damaging unintended consequences is its major flaw,” he said. “Moving forward, I will work with my colleagues, the stakeholders and the American people to find a workable solution that protects intellectual property rights while promoting an open and vibrant Internet.

“I want to thank you for raising your concerns about this bill,” Boozman said “Your voice has been heard.”

At least 18 senators, five of which were co-sponsors of the bill, have withdrawn their support.