SOPA Becoming An Election Issue: Challengers Highlighting Reps Who Want To Censor The Internet

from the mucking-with-the-internet-can-backfire dept

One of the reasons that our elected officials in Congress often have no problem pushing through the worst of the worst in copyright policies is that most people don’t think or don’t realize how much copyright impacts them every day. Copyright sounds boring. From a policy perspective, that’s great for politicians who can pass awful legislation that favors large campaign contributors and hurts their constituents, and it never becomes an issue. But once that copyright policy starts mucking with the internet… perhaps it’s a different story. Supporters of SOPA keep trying to push the myth that the bill is just about copyright and “rogue sites” and “bad actors.” But anyone who’s actually read the bill and understands it knows that it’s really about massive new internet regulations. And one thing people do get up in arms about… is when the government tries to muck with the internet.

Who knows if it will actually become a big enough campaign issue, but it’s already showing up in some places. Karen Kwiatkowski is running for Congress in Virginia’s 6th District… a position currently held by Rep. Bob Goodlatte. And while Goodlatte was one of the more moderate voices in the recent SOPA hearings (admitting that the bill needs some changes to reflect the tech industry’s interests), he’s still a sponsor of the bill, and was very active in the crafting of the bill (though, it sounds like he may have been overruled on some of the points he wanted). Goodlatte might also be hearing complaints about the bill from his own family. As he likes to remind folks in the tech industry, his son works at Facebook… and Facebook has come out strongly against SOPA.

Either way, Kwiatkowski is using SOPA as a key issue against Goodlatte in her campaign against him… and it’s already catching the attention of others. Ron Paul’s active supporters have really taken to the fight against SOPA, since Rep. Paul came out against the bill, and they’re urging the wider community to support Kwiatkowski against Goodlatte for next year’s election. It would take a lot to beat a long term incumbent like Goodlatte, but it’s still impressive to finally see bad copyright policy (and really a bad internet, innovation and jobs policy) becoming an election issue.

Perhaps it’ll make politicians think a little harder next time before introducing legislation to prop up Hollywood.

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Comments on “SOPA Becoming An Election Issue: Challengers Highlighting Reps Who Want To Censor The Internet”

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out_of_the_blue says:

WELL, opponents of SOPA push the myth that "piracy" is GOOD!

And I don’t think that’s reasonable.

I see all your points, guys, but when it gets down to WHO has the moral right to profit from the works, then I’m forced to go with the actual producers of it, not secondary grifters.

Similarly, when you demand the content for free and pirate it from “file sharing” sites, it’s just dishonest. I don’t object strenuously to that private use because Big Media gets too much for mere entertainment, and they changed the deal to make it nearly perpetual copyright, BUT you still have NO right to (newer) material.

And I also don’t see horrible problems with First Amendment in SOPA, even though it’s sure to be abused, because shutting down free speech is already the general trend. — Why aren’t you similarly protesting the Patriot Act? It removed MORE of your actual freedoms than this! But you’ve just accepted that, go on this MINOR new stifling.

Anonymous Coward says:

The real question, now that it looks like SOPA in its current state probably won’t pass, will ICE continue to unilaterally seize domains now that the public is up-in-arms over censorship of the Internet? It’s obvious that SOPA was an effort to legitimize ICE’s previous actions which, if this bill is defeated, are effectively de-legitimized. I think it will make Roja Direct’s case a limitless more easy to win.

Anonymous Coward says:

WELL, opponents of SOPA push the myth that "piracy" is GOOD!

WHO has the moral right to profit from the works

That’s where you you lose me. The answer to that question is: nobody. No one has a moral right to profits. Markets don’t work that way. You may try to persuade others into giving you money in exchange for your goods or services. But if I don’t care for your goods or prices, you won’t get money from me.

MarkYourWords says:

WELL, opponents of SOPA push the myth that "piracy" is GOOD!

So I assume you’ll be actively working to dismantle the existing content industry as represented by the AA’s? By your own words you cannot support the secondary grifters… remember that in most cases now days that does not even closely resemble the copyright holder.

You do realize right that the part of the industry pushing SOPA have never and will never actually produce works. They therefore are, in fact, your enemy as defined by your moral compass.

Anonymous Coward says:


Actually, it’s sort of a non-issue at this point. SOPA may be big news here, but it isn’t making the mainstream media in the slightest, and I suspect that most people in the public wouldn’t know it from a hole in the ground.

Explained as “censorship” (which it is not), it will ring as an unpopular position. Explained as a method to protect the US industries and perhaps encourage employment in the long run, it’s hard to image people really being upset.

At this point, Mike has a single potential candidate in a race she likely won’t win appealing to voters who don’t vote. Adds up to a pile of beans, but I suppose more fodder as Mike attempts web domination in the SOPA field.

Gwiz (profile) says:


“challenger” not “challengers”.

40,000+ people have signed the Whitehouse petition so far (that is 40,000 actual people, not 10,000 who have sent 4 letters each, mind you) and there is still 12 days or so before it closes.

So yeah, I would most definitely say “challengers” and not “challenger”. I would guess your comment was a really lame attempt minimize the opposition to only Google.

Jay (profile) says:

WELL, opponents of SOPA push the myth that "piracy" is GOOD!

I see all your points, guys, but when it gets down to WHO has the moral right to profit from the works, then I’m forced to go with the actual producers of it, not secondary grifters.

What absolutely astounds me is how incredibly pedantic this is. “Since I believe everyone must profit from their works, no one has a right to use works without permission”.

So all of the rich innovations that the world has are lost on you.

Beethoven died a couple centuries ago, but by your logic, his music should not be played in concerts because no one has a “moral right” to profit from his work.

We have Mr. Brainwash who makes art in NY saying “anyone has the ability to create”. His canvas? Sidewalls and abandoned buildings that he records for posterity.

And by your logic, no movie would have a remixed version to be shown because the copyright holders (who aren’t even the directors, producers, or people on set most of the time) are the ones saying “no, you can’t do this”. You can’t tell the distinction from the person that IS creating and the one holding the copyright. That’s the problem

And I also don’t see horrible problems with First Amendment in SOPA—

Try harder.

—because shutting down free speech is already the general trend.

And there’s the moral dissonance.

Why aren’t you similarly protesting the Patriot Act?

People are, just can’t do anything with it at the current time. People are also protesting FISA and the government’s abuse of those laws to seek out information. SOPA is just the industry’s most blatant push ever.

Anonymous Coward says:

WELL, opponents of SOPA push the myth that "piracy" is GOOD!

Indeed – fair market value for content has been approaching zero as the internet makes it easier for content creators to produce and distribute it to more people.

This is where the “content industry” has failed – they thought they could hold onto this “scarcity” – when in fact there is a huge amount of extremely-cheap-to-free content out there (and I’m not talking about infringement) that is “good enough” for a large percentage of consumers.

I have zero reason to pay for a video game these days when there are a million free games available, and cheap used games.

I have almost zero reason to pay for music, when there is an abundance of free legal music in the genre’s that I listen to.

I avoid network TV and movies – but if I need my fix, there was legal ways to watch these ad-supported, or borrow a DVD from a friend.

There’s the *real* problem – there’s an over-abundance of good content that is free. The content itself no longer is a viable way to make money; advertising, and other tangible goods are.

Matt says:

Maybe the intent of SOPA IS to stop piracy. If thats the case, then change the bill to only allow the blocking of websites that -exclusively- facilitate piracy, or require the rightsholders to outline each individual link that they would like removed, without putting undue pressure on the likes of Youtube or various torrent sites by telling them something as broad as “remove all Viacom material OR ELSE”. Don’t allow them demand that an entire, otherwise legitimate site be confiscated or that user-generated content sites police its users’ content.

The fact is that the wording of the bill itself will legalise the censorship of anything that could even remotely be construed as piracy. When it comes to the enforcement of laws, the only thing that matters is the exact wording of a law – the original intention literally means nothing at all.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

WELL, opponents of SOPA push the myth that "piracy" is GOOD!

Even ignoring the fact that I haven’t heard anyone push “piracy is good” as a point in opposition to SOPA, your comment assumes that the only reason to be against SOPA is that one supports piracy.

It just isn’t so. It is possible and consistent to be 100% opposed to piracy in all forms and still be against SOPA. SOPA is just plain bad law and will cause a great deal of collateral damage.

I don’t think it can even accomplish it’s purported goals, but even if it could, it is an immoral law. It is immoral to harm innocent bystanders and society in order to stop a few pirates. It will also cause more damage to the content creators than pirates do by further undermining respect for copyright specifically, the law in general, and creating a hostile environment for noncorporate content creators who won’t have the resources to sue when the Big Guys decide to crush them by disconnecting them from payment services.

SlinkySlim (profile) says:


I’m not sure I get your point.

“mainstream media”? Who cares? This is between “us” and Congress. And, apparently, about 500 thousand “us” folks are on the verge of finishing this round standing up. Mainstream media contributed nothing.

“Explained as “censorship”(which it is not)”. What? We can’t take a thread of a possibility and weave it into a highly probable outcome? With the down right disingenuous, nasty, fabricating and fictitious yarns some folks (mostly with money, power or both) weave to get things their way you’re complaining about the resonance of a possible censorship message? Of course people will be upset.. dar.

And you think one should attempt to explain it as something it’s not then? Like what? Complaining the cost of a CD might go up? Something silly like that?

If you are, in fact, for SOPA than I, for one, would like to know why?

And it is one bean, not a pile, one. And it is likely that other beans will gravitate towards that one lonely bean. Because beans like company. And piles of beans, well gosh, people can actually eat those, or count them.

So what is your point?

Jay (profile) says:


You seem to believe there’s something wrong with the Pirate Party and their stated goals. Please explain why third parties in America are to be disparaged with ridicule. Should we have a problem with the Libertarian Party who states more personal economic responsibility? Should we worry about people with a goal of opening more economic freedom than what you seem to believe in?

Blatant Coward (profile) says:

"I will defend to the death your right to say what you want."

On December 16th, 1984 about 4 in the afternoon I swore a significant, earnest and true oath to defend the constitution from all threats-foreign AND domestic. This oath had NO condition of termination.

SOPA’s proponents own hired shill could not elude stating that citizens first amendment rights would be infringed, harmed or in some cases silenced by actions of this bill’s enforcement if the Internet is their primary means of expression. This puts me four square against it as it is written.

Many property creators could not get the audience they need to support themselves if the bill is passed as written. Since the platforms would be endangered if someone posted something not owned by them they would either need to severely reduce the amount of content they post to allow human review of items, or eliminate many types of content entirely stilling their voices. Since you are for content producers, this should put YOU against SOPA as well.

“Even though shutting down free speech is the general trend” platforms are coming online at a rampant pace Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Imgur, Stumble, YouTube, Piano, Flikr,, Blinklist, LinkedIn, Simpy, Digg, Propeller, Hi5, Last.FM-All of these sites allow expression of communities, and people as individuals-All of these sites, the traditional gatekeeper companies of media see as Rogue sites, because they do not control them, and they influence people. With the way these sites are coming online, the only trend for less expression is IN the legal system.

Piracy? SOPA is written specifically to block, intimidate, halt and criminalize communication. Who the hell said SOPA was about Piracy?

Anonymous Coward says:


“”mainstream media”? Who cares? This is between “us” and Congress. And, apparently, about 500 thousand “us” folks are on the verge of finishing this round standing up. Mainstream media contributed nothing.”

The point is if the story isn’t making mainstream media, it’s because there is no interest – either from them or the people who might want to read the story.

OWS is a marginal, bullshit sort of thing, but it gets media coverage. the SOPA debate? not even getting a mention.

Anonymous Coward says:


Pro-piracy vs. Pro-censorship?

Hate to break it to ya, chump, but the Pro-censorship candidate will lose every time.

When the public hears a candidate is pro-piracy, do you think they give a rats ass?

When the public hears a candidate is pro-censorship, do you think they will just ignore that fact?

I doubt they will be more moved by your cute “anti-IP and pro-piracy” bent then they will by hearing someone is pro-censorship.

1st amendment being one of the major rallying points for the entire country over last 200 years whereas copyright?? uh, not so much.

John Fenderson (profile) says:


That’s a false equivalency. It is factually accurate to say that SOPA supporters want to censor the internet, since that’s the entire point of the legislation: to stop a certain type of communication. That’s the definition of censorship right there.

However, there are many reasons to be opposed to SOPA that have nothing to do with supporting piracy.

Anonymous Coward says:


“The point is if the story isn’t making mainstream media, it’s because there is no interest – either from them or the people who might want to read the story.

OWS is a marginal, bullshit sort of thing, but it gets media coverage. the SOPA debate? not even getting a mention.”

Is it getting no mention because there is no interest? Or is it because the media industries do not want to put the information out there?

Think about it, if there’s something that can get the people to take notice about something that CAN and WILL affect them negatively, would you want them to know about it and stand up and voice their opposition? Or would you rather “sweep it under the rug”?

As for OWS, well it’s YOUR opinon that it is “marginal, bullshit”. However, for some it’s not. It gets attention however because in these times people are getting tired of “footing the bill” so to speak for all these various industries and corporations. Bailing out GM, bailing out the banks, now the industries, etc. These are huge corporations and industries who while useful and needed, should be allowed to go down in flames if need be.

Also, most of the media attention I’ve personally seen in regards to OWS is nothing more than ad hom attacks on the people participating, for the most part. It’s become like a running joke to throw a bit of info on it then say something like “bunch of commies and whiners” (or something to that effect, which basically marginalizes and quickly dismisses the entire thing).

SlinkySlim (profile) says:


Ah, yes, I thought about the OWS tie-in to what you were trying to say.. but we all know they took their sweet, sweet time before realizing that it, OWS, meant something to them and it might be in their fleeting interests to engage.

Likewise, should one of these preposterous propositions make it out of committee I’m quite sure you will get your mainstream media drive by. But then again – The Patriot Act got what? 20 minutes.. total.. maybe?

Oh and I tend to disagree with you a bit about the people who might be interested but don’t seem to be.. those people, the one’s dependent upon that mainstream media to which you refer, are much too busy to be bothered with the curious business of the health of their own country at the moment. There are fat people competing for the Most Weight Lost awards show, and stuff.

Loki says:

WELL, opponents of SOPA push the myth that "piracy" is GOOD!

First off:

Nobody has a moral right to a profit.
Nobody has a moral right to be an actor, musician, football player, plumber, or mortician.

Copyright and patents are merely granted (temporary) incentives to certain disciplines to encourage them to continue to produce their respective content.

That is what the framer intended.
That is what the general population accepts as valid.

That some people want to turn them into perpetual paychecks is essentially irrelevant to the rest of society.

Most people who work at Walmart, or as gas station attendants or fast food workers don’t do so out of desire, but out of necessity. If people in disciples granted special incentives can’t figure out how to monetize their output in a manner the rest of us are willing to pay for and use the time to create new content, that isn’t society’s problem, it is theirs, and if they don’t like it they can join the rest of us on the assembly line.

Additionally, given that many people today are struggling to find work, to keep their homes, to put food on the table they really don’t care that someone who did something clever or inspirational or entertaining 25 years ago can’t sit at home and make 6 figures.

But what they especially don’t care about is some 3rd party corporations, who found ways to contractually benefit from content creator’s works, getting all bent out of shape because technology has allowed people to bypass them and cut them out of the profits. Especially when it has been shown repeatedly that those 3rd parties quite liberally shaft the actually content creators out of their fair share whenever possible.

Moreover, just because it has been a general trend, doesn’t mean people are simply going to let their freedoms, liberties, and advantages of society become more and more impaired because one small group of people doesn’t want to respect the special incentives of another small group.

The fact these people get paid at all shows the incentives work. However, the more the content industry tries to overextend their rights, their liberties, their special incentives, at the cost of the rights and liberties of the very people they rely on, in a misguided attempt to force acquiescence from a group who will never respect their right or obey their privileges is totally counterproductive. Eventually, it merely insures the people they need for their survival will stop respecting their privileges as well.

Ant says:

Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is ALL about piracy.. It’s about control.. The corporations want it and the government is more than willing to give it to them.

Giving corporations that kind of control is BS.

There are plenty of other avenues for them to go after people and they do.

The problem with people is they don’t take the time to look at ALL of the possible outcomes associated with this move.

Don’t ever let them have that first inch when it comes to freedoms.

HelloWorld says:

Offshore internet here we come!

Having watched the actual House Judiciary hearing, it is clear that Google and the tech industry is really holding the purse strings here and this is why the hearing was an “attack Google” moment, because the feelings of fear of how much unbridled power Google really has. The Techies rule the business world and are the darlings of Wall Street!

If this bill were to pass almost all 90% the major tech companies (Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc…) and DNS networking infrastructure would be immediately shifted offshore to places like India, Norway and Germany where the internet is totally unregulated.

This would cause a near collapse of the IT industry in the USA as nearly 100,000’s of jobs were transferred offshore. Silicon Valley and the companies were just maintain administrative/developer offices here, while their operations would be abroad. It would be tech doom.

HelloWorld says:

Offshore internet here we come!

Coporate America offshored the factories, then the bank accounts and financial holding companies and now the internet and tech companies will be the next ones. Congress is doing a great job at chasing away any important growth industry with a track record of innovation and sending them overseas to other countries because of crazy regulations like this!

Anonymous Coward says:

WELL, opponents of SOPA push the myth that "piracy" is GOOD!

“then I’m forced to go with the actual producers of it, not secondary grifters.”

Like movie studios who claim that films like Avatar and Star Wars STILL haven’t shown a profit, so the actors, writers, directors,et al don’t deserve any royalites?

Way to go boy.
Who does your daddy work for? Disney? Viacom?

gorehound (profile) says:


I for one am glad to see the amount of people who came out in support of an America where we have No Censorship as we are supposed to be free.and when other Countries Censor we always spoke up against it.SOPA/PROTECT-IP are going to cause those who wanted a lot of issues cause the next Election is coming up and those old bozos hopefully will lose their seats.
And it would be good to take a peep at their finances.I am very curious at how much money these schmucks are being paid off to take away my frakken freedom.

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