Why did SOPA get so far? Geeks don’t lobby.

Congress received way more money from the entertainment industry


Congress received over $14 million from interest groups linked to the entertainment industry, which support the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, and Protect IP Act in the Senate.

That was 7.2 times more than what Internet interest groups who (vehemently) oppose those bills put in the pockets of Capitol Hill lawmakers: a mere $2 million.

Still surprised two pieces of legislation as patently flawed as SOPA and PIPA made it this far in Congress?

For details on this dirty little open secret, check out this post by MapLight, a research company that tracks down campaign finance and breaks it down by hot-button bills, those who write them, and those who pay the big bucks.

As the Financial Times (where I read about MapLight in the first place–tip o’ the hat) rightly notes, it’s high time for Silicon Valley to recognize that what goes on in Washington doesn’t stay in Washington.


Why did SOPA get so far? Geeks don’t lobby.

  1. I’m not techy enough to understand the intricacies of the technological issues, but is it possible that one of the reasons that opposition to SOPA wasn’t quicker off the ground and more focused and dramatic is because the people who are most vehemently opposed to it doubt the ability of the government to actually stop them from doing whatever the hell the want on the interwebs?

    Is it possible that “the internet” (speaking of it as a metaphorical personified single entity) figures that attempts in the real world to actualize the text of SOPA (and all it’s potential nastiness) would just turn in to another giant game of whack-a-mole?  Perhaps more importantly, that if push comes to shove, the hacktivists figure they can actually do more damage to the big multinational media corporations using their control over the internet than the big multinational media corporations can do to the internet using their control over the government?

    • Always a pleasure to agree with you! I agree that “The Internet” has always figured out ways to circumvent anything that our governments will do to try to hurt her. What most peopled, hopefully starting with our legislators, need to understand is that “The Internet” isn’t just a batch of infrastructure, it’s a new way of thinking about things, and the infrastructure is soooo cheap, that there’s nothing that will ever be able to stop it or slow it down. She’s become an integral part of the human existence, and an integral part of the human evolutionary process.

    • Yeah, and they’re right too. Honestly, I don’t know what the legislators are thinking here, if thinking is even the appropriate term? LOL

      Do they honestly think this is the means by which to approach this issue? That they can influence in this manner what is essentially a global paradigm shifting tidal wave of technological and social advancement? Are they so used to holding a hammer that they’ve lost sight of the fact that not everything’s a nail?

      Worse still, it’s like none of them is even considering the ongoing technology progression and the nature of the future paradigm. We’re looking at optical chips coming out by 2020 that make the best computer available on the market today look like a bloody hamster wheel, and that’s not even considering what’s going to happen when quantum computing inevitably hits the market in the next couple decades.
      Think the governments of the world are going stop this type of behaviour by the present suggested means come a decade from now? Dream on. They can’t do it effectively enough now.

      And it’s not even the ever and increasingly expanding technological capabilities the world over that keeps this from being a practical endeavour.

      This “War on X” philosophy will in fact have the exact opposite effect. Essentially, while they would undermine a lot of the mostly legitimate and legal internet traffic, the illegal aspects would flourish.

      Trying to limit widely accepted activities with arcane laws that attack rather than engage this massive constituency of millions upon millions of people the world over simply makes the illegitimate more attractive to those who might otherwise do things more legally.

      All these laws will do is cut the US out of the loop. Brilliant strategy guys! (shakes head)

  2. For the time being the sopa law has been defeated. But with so very much money involved I don’t believe that we have heard the last of sopa. Their are many companies in the so called intellectual property business that would just love to skim the cream off the top of the milk as it were. Law firms are always looking for more  lucrative markets for lawsuits and the intellectual  property business is most certainly one of those markets. Many businesses are seriously harmed by having to defend themselves against lawsuits brought by all the holders of these unreasonable patents and trademarks. Consumers are forced to pay much higher prices for the patented and trademarked services and products than would otherwise be the case. I believe these guys are in the pockets of the crony capitalists. Senator Orrin Hatch is one of the worst culprits on this issue. If he had his way their would be no internet because just about everything anybody did on the internet would be a violation of someones copyright or someones intellectual property rights. I would like to say one other thing about Senator Orrin Hatch. Mr Hatch please don’t kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

  3. Heck, companies like Google supported Obama, so you wonder why they protested, since they got what they wanted.
    It’s not coincidental that it was Republicans, not Democrats, who were pulling their support for the bill.

    • I’m not sure you have that completely right.  

      Both parties are idiots on this file, true, and there are still many members of both parties supporting it, but I think the reason we saw more Republicans withdrawing support than Democrats is because there were more Republicans supporting it in the first place than there were Democrats.  SOPA was introduced by a Republican (Lamar Smith) and was initially co-sponsored by 12 Congresspeople, 8 Republicans and 4 Democrats.  So, yes, 3 of those Republicans withdrew their support, but that still leaves it sponsored by 6 Republicans and 4 Democrats.  Of course, PIPA was introduced by a Democrat, and has more Democratic supporters I believe, so as I said, bought and paid for all around.

      Let’s also not forget though that a factor (who can say how big, but a factor) in the legislation’s delay is that President Obama came out and said publicly that he would not sign a bill that contained some of the most controversial aspects of the current form of SOPA.

      • xxx xxxx

      • What you’ve said is incorrect. Yes, as far as the INITIAL sponsors go for just one of the two bills, there was more republicans in the bunch. But when it comes to congressional support for the bill, which along with presidential support is what really matters, the support was heavily democratic, and the people pulling support were heavily republican.

        In Congress, SOPA support for republicans:
        21 support, 107 against
        39 support, 81 against


        Not only that, the final count of SOPA sponsors and co-sponsors before the bill was pulled:

        Dems 15 GOP 14

        That would be one more democrat than republican.

        Of these 29, the number who pulled their initial sponsorship:
        0 Dems, 3 GOP

        Therefore, the sponsorship when the bill was pulled:
        Dems 15, GOP 11
        That would be 4 more Dems than GOP.

        Yet, despite all this, you make the absurd claim “is because there were more Republicans supporting it in the first place than there were Democrats”

        Sponsors for PIPA:
        21 Dem, 7 GOP, 1 independent

        So the evidence proves that your statement is absolutely incorrect. For you to single out one bill, and then to count only the initial supporters of that one bill, to make your statement, is completely misleading, when considering that every single other factor, including the latest sponsorship, shows the bills were supported more by Democrats than Republicans.

        As for Obama, he came out against on Jan 14, long after the controversy erupted, so I would frankly give him absolutely zero credit. If the bill were passed without controversy, he would have supported it. It’s obvious that Obama waited to see which way the winds were blowing before he said a thing.

  4. Congress, on both sides of the isle, is completely clueless. This legislation was so clearly bought and paid for by the entertainment industry that it should have been ridiculed, and disposed of from the start. You woulda thought entertainment would have been in support of free speech… guess not!

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