"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

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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