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"You may vote me out of office, but I will come back richer than you can imagine!"

For months now we've been covering the U.S. House of Representative's "Stop Online Piracy Act" (SOPA) (H.R. 3261) and its Senate equivalent, the "PROTECT IP Act" (PIPA) (S.968), but after weeks of analyzing this bill whose punitive provisions could have proven the death of the internet economy and the bequest of big media, it appears that a massive populist outcry has taken the bill towards its grave.

I. SOPA Strike?  So Good, so Far

It would be folly to compare the protest against SOPA/PIPA to the Arab Spring, in so much as the Arab Spring sought to fully sweep out local corrupt politicians/dictators, where as the protests only sought to sweep away a single piece of legislation cooked up by politicians welcoming blatant bribery (big media paid appr. 10 percent all combined active Senators' campaign costs, and tens of millions in parallel donations to members of the House to have its bill passed).

Nonetheless, some in the mass media and blogosphere will doubtless latch onto the passing similarity, in that the SOPA/PIPA protest approached the scale and passion seen in the Arab Spring, and compelled the typically politically apathetic public to take to the internet in protest.

Indeed this was the biggest digital protest on American soil to date.  Past promised campaigns by internet groups like Anonymous had promised such wonders, but largely underdelivered.  But backed at last by some members of industry (companies like Google Inc. (GOOG) and Inc. (AMZN) who could have seen their prosperity destroyed by the act) and everday Janes and Joes who wouldn't know their Androids from their Anonymous, an unprecedented digital populist army marched forth against SOPA/PIPA.

II. The Congressional Critters Flee Sinking Ship

And it didn't take long for some of SOPA's well-funded supporters to perhaps realize that campaign contributions wouldn't do them much good if they were voted out of office.

The results are visually amazing.

Left to Right:
    PIPA/SOPA supporters,
              Pre-protest;                         Yesterday;                                 Today;

SOPA supporters    SOPA supporters   SOPA supporters
(right click, click open image in new tab to view each phase closeup)

Note: Each orange 'X' represents a defecting politician, who retracted their sponsorship of SOPA.


Original supporters: 80
Current supporters: 60
Original Senate supporters: 47
Total who've abandoned bill thus far: 15
Those who've called it quits in the Senate:
11 total
9 Republicans
1 Democrat
Those who remain in the Senate:
30 total (Senate is Democratic controlled)
11 Republicans, including 2008 Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
1 Independent -- Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)
18 Democrats 
Original House supporters  33
Those who've called it quits in the House: 
5 total (House is Republican controlled)
4 Republicans
1 Democrat
Those who remain in the House: 
28 total
10 Republicans
18 Democrats

III. Some Even Pledge Fresh Opposition

The following Representatives/Senators oppose SOPA/PIPA:

(Ones boxed in red represent those who have reversed their opinions from being a cosponsor to being a vocal opponent.)
SOPA/PIPA opponents
(right click, click open image in new tab to view these opponents closeup)

Note the biggest trend with the waning support of SOPA is that the Republicans are jumping ship from what was originally a bipartisan bill first.  Critics would likely comment that perhaps Republicans are simply better at sensing when the ship is sinking and they should scurry away.  Supporters of these politicians would likely defend them, arguing their opinions weren't fully formed yet (regardless of what lobbyist donations they happened to accept).  Regardless, the Republicans take most of the current credit for thinning the ranks of supports.  

By contrast the ranks of opponents to the bills sees strong support from both parties.

IV. To the Bitter End

Despite the fact that vocal opponents outnumber the proponents almost two to one now, and despite the tremendously unpopularity, SOPA key backers -- many of whom were the most deeply funded/bribed by big media during the last campaign cycle -- vow to continue on and find a way to pass SOPA/PIPA.

Lamar Smith
Rep. Lamar Smith feels he's above the laws he's looking to subject his lowly proles to.
[Image Source: Lamar Smith]

Among those is Rep. Lamar Smith (R- Tex.).  He called his constituents express their freedom of speech a "publicity stunt" and says he will, come hell or high water, bring SOPA before the House floor for debate in February.

And for Senators McCain and Lieberman -- both men who once lusted for the powers of presidency -- are with him.  After all, even if the threat of veto by President Obama stands in their way, even if their colleagues stand in their way too, even if it seems like political suicide, how often do you find someone to pay that much of your campaign costs?  Money talks.

Sources: Propublica, ArsTechnica

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hollywood impact
By Soulkeeper on 1/19/2012 9:08:22 PM , Rating: 5
I've noticed that hollywood
and the big wigs in the big media/tv/music industries typically support democrats, maybe this is why the democrats are reluctant to pull back their support. Lots of special interest dollars at stake ...

RE: hollywood impact
By Solandri on 1/19/2012 10:45:54 PM , Rating: 5
Yeah, Hollywood donations favor Democrats.

Both sides get paid handsomely though. Republicans tend to like strong intellectual property laws, since it means it's harder to steal IP from a company; and at this point IP is pretty much all that's left at many American companies (not just music and movies, but research results, designs, etc). That's why the bills initially had strong bi-partisan support.

Politically, I think the real split on this issue is more along libertarian vs. corporatist/statist lines. Individuals think they're terrible bills, the corporate/government supporters think they're great. Unfortunately, the politicians in office tend to be the latter type.

RE: hollywood impact
By HoosierEngineer5 on 1/20/2012 11:30:20 AM , Rating: 2
It would be cool if th SOPA contributors were 'out Foxed' by the tech community.

Sorry, couldn't help myself.

RE: hollywood impact
By MrBlastman on 1/19/2012 11:05:23 PM , Rating: 4
Look at the message Chris Dodd just sent to Obama:

He's threatening the president for supporting SOPA. BTW Dodd is no longer in the Senate and now is head of the MPAA.

Threatening the president. The nerve. Folks, this shows us right here how and why our politics are so screwed up in America.

RE: hollywood impact
By MrBlastman on 1/19/2012 11:10:57 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, he's threatening the president for NOT supporting SOPA. i.e. he's saying: If you don't support it, Hollywood is gonna take their money away and you can kiss your tail goodbye when it comes to funding.

RE: hollywood impact
By JasonMick on 1/20/2012 12:14:26 AM , Rating: 5
Good catch might do a quick note on this early tomorrow... to tired now. :P

Yea the politicians think they're above the law and their corporate bribers REALLY think they're above the law... Amazing how brazen they are...

And how little people seem to care...

RE: hollywood impact
By FastEddieLB on 1/20/2012 1:14:45 AM , Rating: 2
There are no heroes left in man.

RE: hollywood impact
By Shig on 1/20/2012 3:00:18 AM , Rating: 2
Of course people care Jason, why do you think Congress's approval rating is around 10%? Every time a new poll is taken, new record low. After SOPA, it's going to go even lower.

Scary times are indeed scary.

RE: hollywood impact
By Ryrod on 1/20/12, Rating: 0
RE: hollywood impact
By invidious on 1/20/2012 9:01:27 AM , Rating: 4
Partisan gridlock is the only thing keeping the morons in congress from really screwing things up. Do you really want them all marching to the same drum? Think about it.

RE: hollywood impact
By villageidiotintern on 1/20/2012 10:26:57 AM , Rating: 2
Partisan gridlock is the only thing keeping the morons in congress from really screwing things up.

+1. A more accurate statement cannot be made.

RE: hollywood impact
By Ryrod on 1/20/2012 12:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
Partisan gridlock is the only thing keeping the morons in congress from really screwing things up.

And partisan gridlock is what is making the US Federal Government pay more money for servicing our debt and for the continuing bloom of public debt as neither side is willing to budge on budget issues (Republicans: Taxes, Democrats: Spending Cuts). Thinking like that sends us on a straight trajectory for financial collapse.

Do you really want them all marching to the same drum? Think about it.

Yes, I would. It's called compromise and that is what our nation was founded on. Some of them happened to be stupid compromises, but they were nonetheless compromises that allowed us to form the US and to deal with many of the problems that have arisen during the 220+ years we have been a country.

The status quo is not working and something needs to change to rectify the situation we are in.

RE: hollywood impact
By JediJeb on 1/20/2012 3:57:26 PM , Rating: 2
The problem today is that if they ever do reach a compromise, it will be one that raises taxes and increases spending at the same time, taking more money from the people and putting the government deeper in debt.

RE: hollywood impact
By Ryrod on 1/20/2012 4:10:59 PM , Rating: 2
Then what is the solution? We can't continue on the course that we are on.

I think the only President and Congress in the past 30 years that has said the 'deficits do matter' was Clinton and the 104th/105th Congress. However, I don't think we are going to run into another President or Congress that is willing to propose budget reductions like Clinton did or enact spending cuts like the Congress did. I would love to see a Congress with a little more foresight than what we have seen in the past, but people would not elect such a Congress because benefit cuts and tax increases are not popular. Given our electoral system, what is popular controls, as opposed to what is right.

RE: hollywood impact
By NellyFromMA on 1/20/2012 10:06:22 AM , Rating: 2
Two questions:

A) Can someone (in government or the general public) issue a vote of no confidence towards congress?

b) Regardless of the answer above, is it at all ever possible to dissolve confidence due to grid lock and overwhelming dissapproval and even to an extent national security?

The current assembly of Congress seems to be one of the biggest threats to national security as far as I can tell. They are paralyzing the country's political system and dividing its people while fueled by now unlimited corporate PAC dollars.

I don't mean to say we don't need a Congress, of course we do. It's an important pillar of our democratic system of government. However, nearly all representatives currently elected have time and time again demonstrated they can ONLY work in a bipartisan manner when it serves THEIR common interests (SOPA is a great example of this)

RE: hollywood impact
By Reclaimer77 on 1/20/12, Rating: -1
RE: hollywood impact
By MaulBall789 on 1/20/2012 11:20:39 PM , Rating: 2
because they aren't getting their way on everything anymore now that Republicans won enough seats to make their voice heard. Well, tough cookies.

Yeah, I think you've lost a little perspective here. When the Bush White House had a simple majority of both houses it took threats of fillibusters to not let everything they wanted passed. Dems were for the most part ignored. Obama had a supermajority for a while and still couldn't pass anything without an insane struggle. To say the GOP voice somehow wasn't heard during that time is pretty dense.

RE: hollywood impact
By Reclaimer77 on 1/21/12, Rating: -1
RE: hollywood impact
By lagomorpha on 1/23/2012 11:55:53 AM , Rating: 2
why do you think Congress's approval rating is around 10%?

Because the system won't allow for someone both honest and intelligent to win. The first debate he'd be asked his view on evolution, admit that it's the basis for our understanding of modern biology, and lose the entire fundamentalist vote.

RE: hollywood impact
By Reclaimer77 on 1/20/2012 11:48:42 AM , Rating: 2
Look at the message Chris Dodd just sent to Obama:

And that's what's so scarey about the Democratic base. They're angry because Obama isn't Liberal enough! It boggles the mind.

RE: hollywood impact
By Reclaimer77 on 1/20/2012 9:01:22 AM , Rating: 1
Pretty much.

It's also no secret why more Republicans are dropping support for this thing like it's a hot potato. But the author doesn't quite identify it. The Republican majority voter base is center-right. This SOPA thing just doesn't fly with us. Especially when, just last year, the country voted en-mass to remove a record number of jackasses who supported crap like this. These guy know we'll do it again if we have to.

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