Journalism in the Public Interest

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SOPA Opera Update: Opposition Surges


Update: Both SOPA and PIPA have been indefinitely postponed. We will continue to take updates about lawmakers at

As popular Internet sites shut down or blacked out in protest on Wednesday, users flooded our SOPA Opera news application and inboxes to let us know what their members of Congress were saying about SOPA.

When we first launched SOPA Opera, few members in Congress – besides the bills' co-sponsors and its initial opponents – had made their opinion known on the proposed laws to regulate the Internet. That changed on Wednesday. Responses from constituents and Congressional staffers kept us busy updating the site past midnight.

The response was overwhelmingly one-sided against the bill. This graphic (also at right) shows the likely vote tallies for SOPA Opera at the beginning of the day Wednesday and the likely tallies as of early Thursday.

SOPA Opera's tally

Before Wednesday, Sen. Jerry Moran and Rep. Ben Quayle were the only co-sponsors to have withdrawn their support of either SOPA or PIPA (Quayle did so without announcement just the day before). By the end of the Wednesday, at least six other co-sponsors had announced they had withdrawn their support. In total, at least 70 additional members of Congress voiced strong opposition to SOPA or PIPA.

Besides those 70, there were 41 additional politicians who we've categorized as "leaning no." That is, they've spoken strongly against the bills as they are currently written, but leave open the possibility that they may support the bills after they've been amended. (To see a full tally of positions, visit our separate pages dedicated to SOPA and PIPA.)

How many politicians announced they would be co-sponsoring or otherwise outright supporting SOPA/PIPA on Wednesday?

By our count: Zero.

Advocates for PIPA and SOPA have rightfully boasted about the bipartisan makeup of their co-sponsors and supporters. The backlash against the bills was just as bipartisan, and far more boisterous.

Here's the tally as it stood early Thursday (our inbox continues to receive reader updates as we publish this):

Leaning No041

Note: We didn't have a "Leaning No" category until Wednesday.

We're relying on our readers to help keep this fast-changing count up-to-date. If you can document any changes of position -- either by tweet, news report, or another published source -- send it to us at

Some Questions, Answered

Among the most frequent questions is: "Why is my member of Congress listed as supporting SOPA even after he/she made a statement against it?"

A broad answer: Some SOPA (and PIPA) backers pledge to heavily revise the bill, so the line between an opponent of SOPA and a supporter of an altered version of SOPA is not always clear.

For example, Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) recently made a statement against PIPA, saying that he would not vote for it "if it is not significantly improved." So we have classified his stance as "unsupportive," a category that doesn't show up on the front page of the news application.

Along similar lines, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) expressed the same sentiment as Udall (emphasis added): "I would not vote for final passage of PIPA, as currently written, on the Senate floor." However, we have listed him as a "supporter," because he has not withdrawn his co-sponsorship of PIPA.

So far, we've used the "opponent" designation for members of Congress who either back the proposed OPEN Act, which is fundamentally different than SOPA/PIPA -- like Senators Ron Wyden and Maria Cantwell -- or who have stated their opposition to SOPA/PIPA in unqualified terms, like Sen. Scott Brown and Rep. Ron Paul.

As it stands, we can never be certain of each member's true position until a full vote is called. For Sen. Udall and other members of Congress, we've posted a link to their full statements so that readers can take into account the full context of their statements. We have also created a page listing all the statements and actions recorded so far so that readers can see the continuum of support and opposition.

It’s not published, but when I called Paul Tonko’s (D rep from NY) office to express my wish that he denounce internet censorship, I was told by his office that he absolutely does not support the SOPA legislation.

This makes me feel a little bit better for our government.

For a country that claims that they don’t censor stuff and don’t violate pepple’s rights to free speech, especially on the Internet, these bills go directly against that.

People who support the bill say: “well, it’s not right for one person to buy a movie and then share it with hundreds of people for free!” You know what does that with books? Libraries.

Frankly, there are bigger issues to worry about.

“...with liberty and justice for all.”

Liberty (n.) - The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life.

SOPA/PIPA? Really? Someone needs a good kick in the head, methinks.

Those that moved from Support to Oppose realized they want to be re-elected, nothing more.

@Michael, I agree - listening and responding to the demands of their constituents is a pretty legit way to be a good representative, and therefore get re-elected.

Once re-elected, they can continue to soak up that sweet sweet lobby money, and staple the text of SOPA/PIPA to a ‘critical bill’ that must be passed, hoping no one notices.  Business as usual in DC.

When contacting Phil Gingrey (GA-Rep), it was amusing that his office gave the same generic SOPA reply that was copied from website into a response email. He touts that 60% of our exports are IP related, but does not list the percentage that is digital media. Therefore, he is offering a directly misleading response.

Wish this graphic let you see the names of these reps…or am I missing something?

Good good. i hope the folks that still support it today have their staffsback in the office and paying attention. I think its clear now the age of transparency and accountability is upon us. Any politician who tries to mess with the people’s rights from this day forward is affectively killing their career and reputation(since the shame tactic is a favorite of mine when it comes to the morally corrupt) On the flipside, I would give my right eye to be ANYONE in any portion of politics now, because all I’d have to do is allow transparency and work FOR the people instead of the lobbyists and swanky dinner party throwin, bribin’…. anyway, it would be quite easy to open your mouth for about 25 seconds and become a national hero. Too bad these are all old, scared and corrupt farts in every facet of politics.

I agree with Matt is there a higher res version?

Both Sanders and Welch (D-VT) would probably be considered “leaning no” according to this article:

Johnny Brannan

Jan. 19, 2012, 8:49 p.m.

SPOA/PIPA is a clear example of money in politics. our lawmakers do not understand the full implications of the proposed legislation and have admitted such. yet, they were pressured to pass it by entertainment corporations only because of a perceived loss of revenue.  congressmen Smith and Leahy—who introduced these bills—are their mouthpieces by way of campaign contributions or worse.  so, money moves Washington again!  THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!!  please pass along if you agree ...

To get a good explanation of SOPA and PIPA, watch this TED video.

Then call your Senators and Congressional Representatives.

I live in Bill Cassidy’s (R - LA 6) district, and his local office told me he was against SOPA, but I haven’t seen anything published to that effect.

SOPA/PIPA is just another offering from the US Dept of Future Crime.

I’ve decided that if every American worked three hours a week to promote liberty we could win back our Bill of Rights. I’m putting in six, my nieghbors are snoozing still.
The destruction of America for the profit and POWER of the arrogant needs to be actively stopped. Pick your cause, join your friends and nieghbors, and do something.

Remember that we also have the power to withdraw support for the Corporations that are supporting this boot in your face legislation. Companies like Sony have lost my monetary support. They are big enough to use the existing copyright laws to protect themselves from piracy. YouTube already enforces those laws on a regular basis.
With all of the undecided’s in the above poll I think we need to spend more time talking to those who have no idea what is going on in Congress.

Everybody, the link here shows you the individuals and their stance.

Hi. I like the graphic as a visual representation, but do you have one that’s larger and can actually be read?

Do you have a LARGE (legible) version of the MEMBERS OF CONGRESS’S POSITIONS ON SOPA/PIA?  It would be great if you made one available. I’d like to see who (with faces) at a glance is for/against. Thanks.

Claire N. Halsey

Jan. 20, 2012, 8:44 a.m.

You can see the graphic larger (and more up-to-date) here:

And actually, now it’s 63 supporters, 122 opponents. It’s been changing on that page.

The link to SOPA Opera has the full list of supporters/opponents:

Minor Correction: The graphic reads SOPA/PIPA. It should only read SOPA - SOPA is a house bill. PIPA is a senate bill. You should probably create a seperate graphic for PIPA with senate members.

Thanks Erica - after being able to see the link you added I can see they just grouped both houses. Still wish they would seperate the bills into senate and the house.

The Dennis Kucinich for President 2012 Facebook page makes clear its anti SOPA leanings, so I am pretty confident that you can put him in the no side as well.

Can we please have a legible list of the opponents names so we know who to vote back into office in the future?  Also, the supporters names listed would be nice, so we can know who to avoid voting into office later on as well.

Hey, look, it’s 70 politicians who discovered yesterday a surefire way to get themselves reelected this year and hold onto their cushy jobs and special interest fattened wallets.

My heroes.

@Ken That’s what they’re supposed to do. Would you rather they ignored their constituents and supported these bills? Yes, they’re probably chasing the money, but the point of a representative is to represent - and by denouncing SOPA/PIPA, that’s what they’re doing.

Vast difference between representing the people and currying favor with them to gain votes. Are they doing it because its the right thing to do or because its what’s going to put votes in their pocket. The real test will be to watch their campaigns and see how many flaunt their anti-SOPA association to gain votes.

Expect a slightly less offensive, renamed, version of this bill to come up in the future. When everyone is focused on something else, perhaps in the heat of the 2012 elections.

we need a list of all the congressmen who arnt against this bill so we can call them again.

You can see who all are still supporters here:

That page is updated often.

Much has been said so I will just add this:
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government - lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
Patrick Henry

Jayne Chandler

Jan. 22, 2012, 4:15 p.m.

I appreciate the work you are doing to inform and spread the word. There are many who have not woken up or are unwilling to give up the comfort of ignorance, However, may I suggest: more people in these categories would be willing to hear you if you were not swearing. We need to reach people in their comfort zones and gently pull them out into the fresh air of truth. If we offend or frighten them, we’ve lost an opportunity.

Since the bills are shelved for the moment, I’d highly recommend moving to paper.  While e-mail can be filtered (or automatically replied) and phone lines are limited, a letter (especially copied to both the local and Washington offices) has to be filed by hand and has more potential to slip through if you’re polite and act like you’re only trying to help as opposed to throwing insults and insinuations.

I’d also recommend mentioning prominently that you don’t support or condone piracy either, but this approach is a bad solution.  It’s too easy to cast opposition as “just wanting something for free,” and somehow pointing out that Big Media often demands exactly that from artists (“Hollywood accounting”) is somehow not relevant…

In the meantime, I’m sure this isn’t over at all (we need to stomp out WikiLeaks and cheap imported pharmaceuticals!  I mean file-sharing), but it’s fun to watch the roaches scatter at the light in the meantime.

Chris Dodd alone has been endlessly entertaining.  He’s been screaming about how Hollywood will start cutting campaign contributions if the bill isn’t passed, which sounds like a confession of bribery and/or blackmail to me.  He also insists that “the Internet” (not the Super PAC) abused its “market position” and its ability to reach millions without any oversight…as opposed to, say, Disney or Viacom that doesn’t have any audience.

As Cory Doctorow points out, the correct use of market position is to sue college students for millions and build boxes that prevent us from fast-forwarding through the (presumably fact-checked) FBI warnings on DVDs.  It’s almost hard to believe that Dodd is on their side, the way he keeps setting himself up for these…

Thomas J Toman

Jan. 23, 2012, 7:47 p.m.

Frankly there are more isues to worry about

jack atkinson

Jan. 24, 2012, 2:40 a.m.

What honest representative of the people would support these bills unless,they are being bought by the pharmaceutical companies in this country?Anyone who votes for these bills,should themselves be voted out of office.The pharmaceutical companies throwed a big party for the congress,judges and others while Bush was in office,to influence them.

Thomas, there may be other issues, but in its simplest form, these bills say that we need to suffer the consequences of globalism (jobs offshored to banana republics) without gaining any of the benefits (like goods produced overseas if they compete with an “American” company).  It also says that whistleblowers should be silenced, allowing those in power to work in secret.

And it says that you have no right to be an artist or inventor unless you have the sponsorship of a giant corporation.  Everybody else, especially if they’re successful, will be shut down for “piracy,” which already happens more often than you’d expect.

How well will your other issues (by which I assume you mean the economy) fare with the Internet closed off exclusively for big business?

After that, there’s the precedent of Congress passing laws that infringe the rights enumerated in as many as eight of the ten Constitutional Amendments in the Bill of Rights.  Success will just make the authoritarians bolder.  I can’t think of many issues more important than that, especially to people with enough money and leisure time to surf the web for news.

SOPA in Greek means “BE SILENT”, do I see a connection here?

p.s. Look for yourselves what PIPA “ΠΙΠΑ” stands for, I am not going to get banned!

Take a look at the label on the otc medications and ask where your generics are manufactured.  They are all over seas.  Ireland, India, New Zealand, Germany, and more.  The med to be made in the USA must state on the label: Manufactured in USA, but if it says distributed by…the med is made over seas.  So if the drug companies can pay less for medications an individual must have that choice also.  OR bring back drug manufacturing back into the US and give our people jobs.

How is it that Rep. Ron Paul is ALWAYS right on every issue, from the very beginning, for 20+ years now?

Welcome to socialism. I may have spelled that wrong but with all being equal it will not matter. The president says that we need to distribute the wealth, why doesn’t he write a check to the government? hHe is suppose to have 12 million, he should keep 1 and donate the rest to the deficit. The rich that say they think taxes should be higher are not writing checks to the government of their free will because what they say and what they mean is two different things. The same we will find is true on their support of regulating the internet. You know the quote, I voted for it before I voted against it. Everything the government touches turns to manure.
  They should all leave this country and move to one that has people risking their life to come here.

Could you please list the names of the ORIGINAL 31 opposers to the SOPA bill as I can not see who they are on the image and you don’t have them listed anywhere in the article. It would be much appreciated as these are the people who I am more interested in knowing, they did the right thing from the start! People who hold their vote (to see whats happening first) and those who changed their minds after the fallout are not politician I can or will support.

It’s nice to see that SOPA was dropped like this once the people in Washington realized just how important a free internet is to it’s users. Hopefully it will be quite a while before we have to deal with any idiocy like this again. I was reading a pretty heated debate on it over at earlier. And by debate, I mean a lot of people talking about how stupid it is.

With the all time low approval rating of our congressmen and senators of only 13% it is nice to see they can still to listen and heed the voters rather than the special intrest groups.  Myself and millions of other Americans will still be able to purchase our prescription drugs from Canada.  On average the same drugs purchased at your local pharmacy cost 5 to 7 times as much.  Imagine having to pay $600 in the USA for the same drug you can get from a Canadian pharmacy for $85.  It is my hope that these two bills never see the light of day again.

Please, check the news from Europe. European Union Council quietly adopted ACTA, by hiding it in An Agriculture And Fisheries Meeting. Almost the same thing as SOPA/PIPA. Now parliaments in member countries are to vote on ACTA. They tried to do it very quietly but failed. There were Internet blackouts, hackers hacked into government sites, etc. I saw in news from Poland people surrounding president’s palace wearing the same masks and capes that we saw in movie “V for vendetta”. Looks like more and more politicians are switching from “yes” to “no” but what a timing! Talking about globalization.

Paula Harding

Jan. 31, 2012, 3:09 p.m.

Ken…it would be a great day in America to find ONE politician that does ANYTHING because it’s the right thing for the people. I have voted for so many that said all the right things while running and then after awhile in office caves in to the pressure of going along rather than being edged out. And I HATE this. Some of you may be able to correct me on this, but Jimmy Carter is the only man I saw slowly go down over the course of his 4 yrs in the White House because he refused to do many of the things asked of him because it simply wasn’t the right thing to do. And by the time the GOP got through with Pres Carter it was easy for Reagan to walk in and hand the 99% that trickle down BS.

I am so dissapointed in my beloved countries state of affairs. Every time you hear the news another travesty of injustice has occured.  If we’re not bailing something out, continuing to pay for our “wars”, seeing our economy down the tube than it’s not the good ole USA anymore. I realize we are all somewhat reponsible for our fates, but no one asked my permission to go to war, bail out banks or allow medications to get ridiculously expensive..then..the gall to try to pass a law preventing us from saving a few dollars buying in Canada.

Shame on you!!

Concerned Citizen

Feb. 12, 2012, 5:45 a.m.

Great use of technology (data mining tools/Google are powerful) in putting together a very informative, visual interpretation of how Congress “stands” (at any given point in time) on these issues.  As they say, one picture is worth a thousand words; a couple of hundred congressional photos (each with “drill down” info, personal data/websites and even facebook pages) all serve to create “pictures” of a lot more accountability than our congressional representatives could ever have anticipated. 

PS Here is our January 27 post telling our readers about your article:

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