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PIPA support collapses, with 13 new Senators opposed (arstechnica.com)
181 points by llambda on Jan 19, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments



The most interesting part of this article is that PIPA is now effectively a Democratic (capital D) bill with almost twice the number of co-sponsors, in part due to the Heritage Foundation's opposition.

I wish the Democrats would give similar weight to the ACLU or similar organizations. Maybe this is why people say organizing Democrats is like herding cats.


The Communications Decency Act, DMCA, and Clipper Chip were all Democratic initiatives, too.


The CDA vote:

  Democrats: 30-16 in favor
  Republicans: 51-2 in favor (1 not voting)
Neither party looks good in that vote, but one party looks like it lacked even a significant principled minority...

The DMCA was a Republican initiative legislatively, but passed on an unopposed voice vote and was of course signed by Clinton. Cosponsored by 7 Republicans and 3 Democrats; drafted by the office of Howard Coble (R-NC), who also pushed it through the committee he chaired.

If you want to assign blame by overall party control, both laws, along with the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, were passed by a split government, with Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, and Democrats controlling the Presidency. So I guess they're "bipartisan achievements", for which we can thank the 1996-1998 "dream team" of Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and Trent Lott, who set an inspiring example in pushing through so much major legislation rather than letting themselves be mired in partisan gridlock.


In post-SOPA/PIPA follow-through, Calfornians should write Dianne Feinstein's office (no written statement, no co-sponsor movement) and mention her upcoming reelection bid next November. If she doesn't get with the program, perhaps a vigorous primary challenge is needed.


Don't underestimate hollywood money's effectiveness with california congresspeople.


She is the absolute worst offender with almost six hundred thousand in donations. It's a sick society in which corporations have such an influence on politics. They should only be allowed to donate as much as the average person can afford to donate. The average person in America makes about 40k so that means not much.


Yes, Hollywood money, and the entertainment industry unions, which are well-organized.


Traditionally, Hollywood (run by angry liberals) and the Republican Party are hostile, so this shift is more of politics reverting to the mean. The main reason GOP members were on SOPA was the support of Nashville and the NFL.

This shift is a very positive development, it means the bill is becoming impossible to pass in a Republican House (and where GOP Rep. Lamar Smith has discredited himself by leading fellow Republicans into the SOPA morass).


There's no real hostility between Hollywood the industry and the Republicans, just Hollywood the media spectacle. High-profile actors tend to be more liberal, but the Hollywood executives (the ones who actually "run" it) are typically moderate business-conservative type people, the same as most other places in big business. In fact they literally are the same people due to CEO churn, and definitely from the same social circles; e.g. NBC Universal's CEO was formerly Comcast's CEO, and is a personal friend of JPMorgan Chase's CEO.

The RIAA types are even more welcome in the Republican Party traditionally, due in part to Nashville as you mentioned, and in part due to the significant influence of first Sonny Bono and now his widow Mary in Congress.

If this is a regression to the mean, when was the mean ever in effect? In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan maintained strong ties with Hollywood (even with people like Lew Wasserman who were active in the Democratic Party) and promoted their interests; in the 1990s, the GOP led the charge for the DMCA and Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act. Arguably there was strong hostility in the 1950s-70s, when Joseph McCarthy thought Hollywood was full of Communists, and Nixon complained about it being controlled by Jewish Democrats, but that was a while ago, and for reasons (paranoia about Jews and Communists) that hopefully aren't going to recur.


> Another co-sponsor, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) echoed that sentiment. He blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for "pushing forward w/ a flawed bill that still needs much work."

What a load of dreck. You're a co-sponsor, there, Roy, not some poor, helpless stooge. Sure, it's all the other guy's fault. Suddenly, it's "flawed". For some reason. Before, it was a perfectly fine bill to censor the Internet. Did I get that right?


Yes it's lame, but if that's what it takes for Republicans to back off, then I guess I'll live with it. Now we just have to wait for the Democrats to realize that the public hates the bill and they can't let the GOP score a big PR win - in spite of the 90% of entertainment industry lobbying that goes to Democrats.


in spite of the 90% of entertainment industry lobbying that goes to Democrats.

I would like to verify this. Got a source?



About 35 Senators have not committed to a position, perhaps reluctant to do so for fear of angering either deep-pocketed Hollywood campaign contributors or their constituents back home.

To me this illustrates the problem with lobbying.


Ironically, I read your comment and though I agree completely I tried to consider the opposite argument.. that lobbying is effectively a natural democratic condition since it's done with money that comes from consumers.... BUYING FUCKING MOVIES AND MUSIC.

[Edit: presumably downvotes are for cursing. Sorry, I adore naughty words... To be clear though, the point I'm making is that I'm infuriated at the fact that money I've spent doing exactly what the MPAA/RIAA wants me to (pay for legal content) is being used to limit my freedom. For some reason it's a realization I've only just arrived at, and it certainly makes me want to think twice before feeding the beast anymore. Effectively, this legislation is the best argument for stealing content that I've come across.]


The influence of money is not naturally democratic. If there were a ban on corporate money in politics this would not be occurring.


I often don't understand why there isn't


There isn't a ban on independent expenditures by corporations because such a ban would unconstitutionally abridge of the right of freedom of speech and of the press. It would abridge the rights of (1) the individuals who jointly own the corporation and (2) the individuals who may wish to hear the speech whose dissemination is being restricted.

Corporations don't have a constitutional right to even exist, but provided that they do exist, Congress cannot enact a content-discriminatory restriction on speech funded by corporations.


The people you're arguing against are taking a utilitarian view of the problem. You're arguing from unexamined principles. Provided that companies exist as legal persons, shouldn't they be allowed to vote too? What about incarceration in the event of wrongdoing (manslaughter)? Isn't the treatment of corporations as arbitrary in these cases as in the one you refuse to make?

Clamping down on corporate political speech would hardly restrict the speech rights of individuals. It would simply force organizations wishing to fund political activities into funneling the money through individuals with no legal recourse if the funds ended up used for something else. And it would increase the cost of the activity as compared to the present since individual recipients would be taxed for the additional income at progressive rates depending on the amount spent.


>Provided that companies exist as legal persons

Nothing I've said relies on the legal fiction of corporate personhood. I was careful to speak only of the rights of natural persons.

>Clamping down on corporate political speech would hardly restrict the speech rights of individuals.

I respectfully disagree. If corporate political speech were unprotected, then Congress could have outlawed the SOPA protests by reddit, Google, and other corporations. Do you not feel that this would constitute an abridgement of the rights of the people behind reddit and Google to help inform the public about the nature of these bills?

If a group of individuals can join together and form a corporation to publish a book on almost any subject, but are specially prohibited from publishing a book endorsing or opposing a candidate or bill, then it seems to me that such a prohibition would clearly be an unlawful violation of the First Amendment, because it discriminates against certain speech based on the content of that speech.


If this is a question of principle you've surely already lost; there are plenty of non-controversial areas in which organizations are afforded greater or lesser rights than individuals based on their functional role in society: non-profits and charities are expressly forbidden from political campaigning, while the New York Times can legally publish Wikileaks in a way that Julian Assange apparently cannot.

I'm sure a sensible law can find a way to reduce soft-money flows without wiping out forums and newspapers. Nor is anyone saying that organizations cannot express political viewpoints. The question is about the corrupting influence of soft-money flows and if the situation is too complex to allow for that, it is surely too complex for limited liability corporations to exist in the first place.


Here's one argument for allowing corporate money in politics:

Money can always find a way to affect power in a democracy. For this reason it's better to make the process straightforward and aboveboard than opaque and indirect.


By that line of reasoning, you should be in favor of legalizing all forms of corruption. This is nonsense. Yes, money can always find a way, but some ways are harder and less effective than others.


I know, it's terrible. "Why I'm A Pirate", on the front page for 17 hours now, makes that point very well. http://ploum.net/post/im-a-pirate


Be careful what you vote with your money every day.


Your argument applies to legalizing bribes also :)


Finally someone gets it. Boycott is the only way forward in this messed situation.

Stop buying movies/music, PCs and Apple computers, there is a fine list of SOPA proponents. For all of them there is an alternative, buy operating support from RedHat or Canonical instead of Microsoft, donate money to independent studios and watch their movies.

Your money is doing this. Your money. You decide what to do with it. Each dollar is a vote.


I called Sen. Cornyn's San Antonio office earlier today to voice my support for the Senator's opposition.

I'm the first to admit that he may or may not actually be in opposition, but calling and telling his office that I'm glad he's publicly stated such is still important.

Please, do the same if your senator has made a similar statement.


I have to imagine in the tangled web of politics there may have been many initially 'for' it who really weren't for it in spirit - their position was tantamount to monetary contributions and towing the line.

In the end what truly matters is that that they represent the wishes of their constituents. I find this protest and its results a glorious thing. But we're only getting started. Unfortunately no position changes for CA (at this moment :)).


I did the same but around 2pm. His aide told me that Sen. Cornyn was drafting a letter of some sort to the Judiciary committee in opposition to the bill.


I'm a hard core social liberal, but given all this I'm forced to really think if Democrats, particularly Boxer and Feinstein deserve my vote [read: they don't].

I wish there were more fiscally conservative and socially liberal Republicans.


Democrats have been the ones balancing the budget in the last decades. Republicans are fiscal conservatives in name only: http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2011/07/why-the-gop-...


This is why the tea party was born. Republicans that didn't truly believe in limited government needed to be removed.


Here are the senators seeking re-election this year. Asterisks indicate those who are newly opposed to PIPA.

  Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  Tom Carper (D-DE)
  Bill Nelson (D-FL)
  Ben Cardin (D-MD) *
  Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
  Jon Tester (D-MT)
  Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
  Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
  Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
  Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA)
  Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
  Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  Richard Lugar (R-IN)
  Olympia Snowe (R-ME) *
  Scott Brown (R-MA) *
  Roger Wicker (R-MS)
  Dean Heller (R-NV)
  Bob Corker (R-TN)
  Orrin Hatch (R-UT) *
  John Barrasso (R-WY)
  Bernie Sanders (I-VT)


I hope Feinstein gets primaried. Her support for PIPA is sick.


Boxer supports PIPA as well.

Another example of how things could be better if Northern and Southern California split into two states.


If her and her husband Richard Blum's shady finance deals over the years haven't been enough to get her primaried, I doubt PIPA will do the trick...


Too late for a primary challenge and there doesn't even seem to be a credible Republican challenger.


Ben Cardin is from Maryland.


Embarrassing that more Democrats haven't come out in opposition, especially given the amount of money they traditionally raise from Silicon Valley.


They also raise a disproportionate amount of funding from the entertainment industry.


Do they have to pay the lobbyists back? (serious question)


Of course not - that would be evidence of bribery. These campaign contributions are "gifts" with "no strings attached" - but good luck getting the money next time!


Of course they will gt it next time. I think perhaps you misunderstand how contributions work.

Special interest groups contribute to everyone. They don't pick and choose. Half the people they contribute money to don't even get elected.

At the end of the day there may be questions of scale, but corporations are perhaps the most bipartisan of entities. They understand that the party doesnt matter as much as the person. Regardless of the election outcome they've bet on the winner.

They also understand the tension a politician is under. So this bill gets killed - big whoopee. There are a dozen more like it waiting to be written. Time will tell if the populace have the staying power - corporations certainly do, and politicians have nothing but.

This is a bill that strikes at the best disseminator of information known to man. The only reason it has got so much attention because those that control the Internet (Wikipedia et al.) firstly care enough about this bill, and secondly have a way to communicate with lots of others.

This is an improvement over just big media, but only really concerns bills that are Internet related. There have been plenty of worse bills in the past, and there will be plenty of horrible bills to come. Until voters come to understand that their responsibility extends to more than just making a cross every 4 years (and many don't even do that) then we can't complain if others are filling the void.


"Until voters come to understand that their responsibility extends to more than just making a cross every 4 years (and many don't even do that) then we can't complain if others are filling the void."

that is the truth, and an ugly truth it is. But given the increasing complexity of human society, and various other vested interests, its no wonder moms and dads cannot make an informed choice over who to vote for. The problem isn't one of 'dont give a fuck', its one of 'how do I give a fuck when I have mouths to feed and work to go to'.

Mean while, the top 0.1% lobbies some more...




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