Crowd Cheers Loudly As All Four GOP Candidates Say No To SOPA/PIPA

from the national-issue dept

It really was just a few weeks ago that a Hollywood lobbyist laughed at me (literally) when I suggested that SOPA/PIPA might become a national issue during the Presidential campaign. As he noted, copyright issues just aren’t interesting outside of a small group of people. My, how things have changed. After this week’s protests made front pages and top stories everywhere, it’s not all that surprising that the candidates at the latest GOP debate were asked their opinion of the bills… and all four came out against them. Of course, this seems to fit with the new GOP positioning that they’re the anti-SOPA/PIPA party (so sorry Lamar Smith…). Mediaite has the video:

And here’s a transcript of what each candidate said:

Gingrich: “You are asking a conservative about the economic interests of Hollywood? I am weighing it and thinking fondly of the many left wing people that I am so eager to protect. On the other hand, you have so many people that are technologically advanced such as Google and You Tube and Facebook that say this is totally going to mess up the Internet. The bill in its current form is written really badly and leads to a range of censorship that is totally unacceptable. I believe in freedom and think that we have a patent office, copyright law and if a company believes it has generally been infringed upon it has the right to sue. But the idea that we have the government start preemptively start censoring the Internet and corporations’ economic interest is exactly the wrong thing to do.”

Romney: “The law as written is far too expansive, far too intrusive and far too threatening of freedom of speech and information carried across the Internet. It would have a depressing impact on one of the fastest growing industries in America. I care deeply about intellectual content going across the Internet and if we can find a way to very narrowly go after those people who are pirating especially those offshore. But a very broad law that gives the government the power to start saying who can pass what to whom, I say no and I am standing for freedom.”

Paul: “I am one of the first Republicans to oppose this law and so glad that sentiment has mellowed up here as Republicans have been on the wrong side of this issue and this is a good example on why its good to have someone who can look at civil liberties … freedom and the constitution bring people together.”

Santorum: “I do not support this law and believe it goes too far. But I will not agree with everyone that there isn’t something that should be done to protect the intellectual content of people. The internet is not a free zone where anyone can do anything they want to do and trample the rights of other people. Particularly when we are talking about entities off shore. The idea that the government has no role to protect the intellectual property of this company, that’s not right. The idea that anything goes on the Internet? Who has that idea. Property rights should be respected.”

Santorum’s answer is the weakest, obviously — and isn’t too surprising. Just recently he made a statement that was about how online activity should be regulated.

But, really the most interesting part of what happened was not the candidates answering the question, but the audience’s response. When John King asked the question and gave a brief explanation of SOPA/PIPA… he also mentioned that CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, supported the bill… and the crowd booed loudly. When the candidates — particularly Gingrich and Paul — made their claims, the crowd cheered loudly.

The people who are still brushing off the whole protest as “an internet thing” or (even more ridiculous) “a Google thing,” still don’t seem to realize. Pretty much the entire public has turned against these kinds of bills.

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Comments on “Crowd Cheers Loudly As All Four GOP Candidates Say No To SOPA/PIPA”

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KingFisher says:

I’m still waiting for people in the democrat crowd to cheer for people who oppose this law. To hurt Lamar Smith really hard he needs to be isolated by both parties. Both Democrats and Republicans need to flat out reject SOPA and PIPA otherwise the issue will just become a another partisan view from one political party. I’m an independent and I have mixed feelings about the GOP’s response, i’m a bit upset because i feel like these aren’t their true feelings and they are just going along with public opinion, saying the answers we want to hear but on the other side i’m relieved that we have (for the moment) more people who oppose SOPA and PIPA.

Anonymous Coward says:

This exactly shows why the Obama administration was relativity strong with pointing the flaws of SOPA/PIPA, and why it is doubtful he would sign such a bill before the election. Had he come out in favor of those bills, he would have heard the attack line of “Obama wants to (or has) censor the internet” up through the election.

Kyle Reynolds Conway (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: What world am I living in?

True. This is a huge step forward though (right?). The will of the people had an impact. It’s certainly a bright light amidst a horrifying darkness of ignorance.

If these issues are actually talked about and examined then — we hope — the false claims of the content industry will be apparent and appalling. The industry is already unpopular (I don’t think that’s an overstatement), but when exposed to public and political scrutiny they’d become untouchable regardless of the money they try to throw around.

I’ve been reading Patry’s “How to Fix Copyright” and it’s astounding how blunt he sounds about all this corruption. Every sentence is another matter-of-fact statement about how unbalanced this issue has been by lobby money. His calm tone actually makes it hard to read. It’s infuriating how long this has gone on.

Is this, perhaps, a turning point? I hope so. It feels like one.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 What world am I living in?

I think we still have a long ways to go. This is barely a start, if that.

Even if SOPA/PIPA gets defeated, Congress will try to either pass another similar bill in the future (after elections) or they will try to sneak various SOPA like provisions in much larger unrelated bills. By the time they get passed its too late, repealing them would be about as difficult as repealing copy protection lengths.

This isn’t over yet, far from it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 What world am I living in?

opposing SOPA and similar legislation is not enough. We need to be proactive in supporting bills that explicitly abolish government established cableco monopolies and that explicitly grant a whole lot more broadcasting spectra to the public for anyone to freely use however they feel with far fewer restrictions from what we have now.

The govt-industrial complex (FCC) started gradually stealing broadcasting spectra away from the public under the pretext that they will initially ensure a minimal amount of competition and that these spectra would be regulated in the public interest. Over the years many of those regulations disappeared yet the regulations denying me my rightful freedoms to broadcast however I please over most spectra still wrongfully exists. It has become clear that these spectra are regulated in the best corporate interests against the public interest.

The stealing of broadcasting spectra was a gradual process because stealing it all at once and immediately handing exclusive usage privileges over to corporate interests and denying the public its social benefit would create outrage. The ‘need’ to grant monopoly power over spectra exists exactly because not doing so would cause people to use that spectra. and why would people use that spectra? Because its use is socially beneficial, otherwise no one would use it and the FCC would have no reason to grant monopoly privileges. They are denying us the social benefit of using that spectra and handing exclusive usage privileges over to private corporations. That needs to change and we need to make sure of it. Broadcasting spectra should almost be a free for all with very few exceptions (things like emergency reports, weather, time of day, GPS, and maybe a few others. Not sure about cell phone spectra and what to do with that). Govt established cableco monopolies should also be abolished. Anything less is public theft. I’m getting my rights stolen from me.

Liz (profile) says:

For years, Las Vegas was billed as “The Next Hollywood.” Movie and recording studios had set up shop in Henderson (town just South of Vegas) and a number of artists had moved there. Plus Vegas is supposed to be “The Entertainment Capital of the World.”

With that in mind, I wonder how much of Sen. Reid’s support for PIPA was paid for by the RIAA and MPAA.

I used to like Reid. I even voted for him. But soon after he became Senate Majority Leader, he seemed to have lost his mind.

Anonymous Coward says:

Listening to what each had to say, G and P spouted politically popular generalities, R covered his bases with a meaningless statement, and S, while not supporting SOPA, did express concern about the rights of right holders.

To my way of thinking, S was the only one who was at least willing to include in his statement something that is politically risky to say.

Why this makes his the “weakest” argument is not apparent to me.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You find it risky to sit on the fence? Santorum said he didn’t like the bill as written (riding the popular sentiment, and after hearing the applause offered Newt and Mitt), yet still managed to kiss the ass of the Intellectual Property maximalists. How is that not weak?

Sadly, his weak response was pretty much identical to Victoria Espinel and the White House. Lame.

New Mexico Mark says:

Re: Re:

But I will not agree with everyone that there isn’t something that should be done to protect the intellectual content of people.

(Translation) “But… there’s pirates plundering the prairies of the wild west of the Internet, and we all know we have to do SOMETHING (for the sake of the children, of course).”

Sad, because Santorum was my least unfavorite candidate. Now I’m not disinclined to re-evaluate that choice. Weasel words do that to me.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Re: Re:

BTW, you are categorically wrong. I am a long way from a Gingrich campaign manager, but you say that “G spouted politically popular generalities” but you must have not paid much attention.

Gingrich, in a display rare for the debates, demonstrated knowledge of the bill and detailed specific downsides of the Bills: less freedom, protectionism to Hollywood, the fact that the tech savvy are against, it may mess up the Net, poorly written Bill, unacceptable censorship, we have sufficient patents and copyright law already, don’t want preemptive government censorship for specific corporate interests.

That’s a long way from popular generalities. The 9-9-9 guy would have given us that. Of the four, there were no more pointless generalities than those offered by Santorum.

So, in brief, what you think…just think the opposite.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Gingrich demonstrated a willingness to wet his finger and see which way political winds are blowing. The same can be said for Romney, and to a lesser extent Paul.

How comforting that an historian, a VC, and a doctor are such experts on the contents of a proposed bill that quite likely none of them have ever read.

Whatever its flaws, the buzz words used by these three gentlemen are even more flawed.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Who Was That?

Wow. Who was the guy in the Newt Gingrich suit? For 60 seconds, I actually LIKED Gingrich!! Was that you, Masnick?

Newt not only fell on the right side of the debate, he took the riskier position of saying so first. Further, he detailed the true downsides of the Bills: less freedom, protectionism to Hollywood, the fact that the tech savvy are against, it may mess up the Net, poorly written Bill, unacceptable censorship, we have sufficient patents and copyright law already, don’t want preemptive government censorship for specific corporate interests.

And equally important, what he DID NOT say: no mention of the common but false assertion that piracy is a massive problem, no mention of the common but false notion that we need some new laws to handle it.

Newt clearly did not get a check from Hollywood!

Kudos to Ron Paul, too. Pointing out that this is not a D/R debate.

American Voter says:

Newt Will Only Protect Republicans. He Said So Himself.

“Gingrich: “You are asking a conservative about the economic interests of Hollywood? I am weighing it and thinking fondly of the many left wing people that I am so eager to protect. “

This is why people hate Newt and the GOP in general. Both parties have their flaws, but the Dems work to serve and protect all people, not just the ones who agree with them.

SOPA’s gotta go!

Josef Anvil (profile) says:


The SOPA/PIPA issue is amazing in that it shines a bright light on how American politics work. The Democrats simply refuse to out down the Hollywood crack pipe and I’m sure the Republicans are loving that.
SOPA/PIPA gives the Republican party something to talk about other than Obama.

People tend to tune out when they here political rants about a President and issues that barely impact their lives. Taxes and the economy are nice to talk about but at this point it doesn’t appear that either party has a handle on “fiscal responsibility”. Obamacare? Meh. National security and terrorism? Enough already.

The internet is at stake. Economy, freedom, technology, and classism all rolled up in one neat package. Hundreds of millions of eyes on Google, Facebook, Wikipedia and numerous other sites and suddenly everyone is paying attention to what Congress is doing. Now the politicians have the attention millions of voters and have to decide what they are going to tell all of those people. Do you side with millions of dollars or millions of voters? That is the harsh choice that US politicians have to make now.

Anonymous Coward says:

One can’t help but wonder whether the Republicans recognize that the tech industry, though naturally progressive in both the traditional (in terms of technological progress) and the social/political sense, is wedgeable in a way that Hollywood isn’t.

Hollywood is a political coalition of ethnic/wealthy liberals at the executive level, artist liberals at the talent/management/white collar level, and blue-collar union liberals at the rank and file level and is the ultimate reliable Democratic vote outside of college towns, inner cities, and government workers.

Tech has a libertarian streak and Republicans that recognize the libertarian streak in the ICT community may be able to draw votes. For instance, the position of the Austrian School on intellectual property could lead tech folks to take a closer look at Austrian economics altogether. Many folks in the tech community could well dislike environmental regulations if they were shown to be based on Luddism and dislike of technology rather than prevention of externality. Religious conservatives and neocons will never play well with the ICT community, but libertarian conservatives who stay out of people’s private lives, don’t start wars, while advocating for a agile but small government could well get votes.

The Luke Witnesser says:

Here lies the truth about SOPA/PIPA that even TechDirt has yet to report: what MPAA, RIAA, and Hollywood execs do not want you to see.

The truth behind why these big companies responsible for SOPA and PIPA are also responsible for piracy itself is far more insidious than even their outmoded business model.

Can you say, do as I say so I can crush you under heel?

Steve R. (profile) says:

Need Full Disclosure From Santorum and Romney

Words are cheap, both Santorum and Romney need to be asked follow-up questions to fully disclose what they really mean on this issue.

Romney for example is absolutely livid on the issue of China stealing US so-called “intellectual property”. Clearly, with Gingrich and Paul going first, Romney would not really disclose that he would pursue a pre-crime unit to arrest people on the mere belief that piracy may be committed in the future.

In terms of Santorum, he is quoted as saying: “The internet is not a free zone where anyone can do anything they want to do and trample the rights of other people.” In discussing family values, Santorum clearly wants “big” government legislation to control behavior. It would not be much of a logic leap to assume that Santorum would also be for “big” government that would protect corporate interests to the exclusion of liberty.

iBelieve says:

They need SOPA

To wash clean all the comments from people who are pissed at all the chemicals they are spraying on us and then acting aloof of this atrocity. Weather is now a commodity and Corporations are trading stock in it. HAARP is alive and well destroying the magnetosphere somewhere around planet Earth. And you can bet they are laying down bets who can roust the biggest earthquake around the planet with it. Floods? We got floods. We got floods and atmospheric anomalies you wouldn’t believe. They are posting thousands of these nacraeous clouds all over the net. Countdowns? Oh, we got countdowns.
The sun is hitting us right now, and the data? Oh, shit we got data…

Anonymous Coward says:

The cynic in me...

…says Republicans are coming out against SOPA/PIPA only because they receive less contributions from the entertainment industries than Democrats, and that they will run with this issue only because people cheer against bullying tactics.

Unfortunately, the cynical side of me is more often correct than the rainbows-and-puppies side of me.

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