Republicans Backing Off Internet "Piracy" Acts SOPA and PIPA

Posted: Jan 18, 2012 3:53 PM
In the wake of many websites going dark today to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), Republicans have been backing off of their support of the controversial legislation.

Sens. Marco Rubio, Roy Blunt, John Boozman and Orrin Hatch have removed themselves as co-sponsors of PIPA, while Representatives Terry (Neb.) and Quayle (Ariz.) have abandoned SOPA. Some whose positions had been vague have clarified as well, among them Mark Kirk and Paul Ryan. Sen. John Cornyn, another PIPA sponsor, said that the Senate should have "a more thoughtful balance" and should "take more time" on the issue.

All in all, lawmakers are abandoning the government overreach in droves, most of them Republicans. A few Democrats, however, are sticking to their guns. Besides the fact that the lobbying effort is led by Chris Dodd, Sen. Patrick Leahy dismissed concerns as "flatly wrong," while Al Franken is also largely ignoring the protests. Sen. Dick Durbin is also still a sponsor, while an aide has said "it's not a priority."

It's somewhat surprising that an online boycott/protest led by organizations whose customers and owners typically lean liberal has had more of an effect on Republicans than Democrats. Conservatives, after all, are typically more supportive of strong intellectual property rights. Could it be that Republicans are more willing to reconsider their positions, or that they're more receptive to evidence that they were wrong? On the other hand, cynics might say that the Hollywood and the entertainment industry have major ties to the Democratic holdouts like Chuck Schumer and Al Franken.

All in all, it's a surprising day of success so far for a little online protest.