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SOPA Opera: Which Legislators Support SOPA and PIPA?


Note: Updates to SOPA Opera may be delayed today (Jan. 18, 2012) because of exceptionally high traffic to the site. You can follow ProPublica and Dan Nguyen on Twitter for updates regarding SOPA.

In the next few weeks, among the most talked-about legislation will be the Stop Online Piracy Act — commonly referred to as SOPA — which, if passed, would give the Justice Department the authority to block access to foreign websites deemed to be dedicated to copyright infringement.

Both SOPA and its Senate version, PIPA (officially known as the PROTECT-IP Act), have widespread bipartisan support among lawmakers. But the proposed law has become a pitched battle between entertainment companies — who believe SOPA will curb the illegal distribution of movies and music — and online media companies like Google and Facebook, who fear that the bills will be burdensome to implement and are tantamount to censorship.

Though the controversy involves companies that trade in information, it's been surprisingly difficult to find out basic facts — like where each member of congress stands and what financial backing they've received from interests who have the most to gain or lose.

Over the holidays, I made a news app — SOPA Opera — as an online resource to collect the facts about which member of congress support SOPA, and to shine a light on the debate and process behind a bill that may have major ramifications on how the government regulates communication and commerce online. Today SOPA Opera is moving to ProPublica, where we'll continue to update it.

SOPA Opera's tally of congressional supporters and opponents is based on factors including whether they've sponsored the legislation, whether they've voted for it in committee and their public statements about it. For each legislator, we're tracking what they've said or done so far about SOPA. We're also tracking campaign contributions to each legislator from the entertainment and Internet industries (using data from the Center for Responsive Politics).

Check out SOPA Opera.

Data Sources

Our SOPA Opera uses a combination of legislative data and research to fill out the biographical information and position of each member of Congress. The websites and APIs we consult include:

  • OpenSecrets / Center for Responsive Politics – Their extensive campaign finance database contains categorized spending from Federal Election Commission reports.
  • OpenCongress – An invaluable site that takes the archaic data from the U.S. legislative site and formats it for modern web consumption.
  • New York Times Congress API – an extensive API that contains the boilerplate biographical information and historical legislative data.
  • – Another comprehensive resource about the legislative record.
  • Library of Congress THOMAS – The official clearinghouse for legislative information.


How are the positions of the members of Congress determined?

A supporter:

  • Co-sponsored the bill (or one of its precursors).
  • Voted to move the bill (or one of its precursors) forward in committee.
  • Has defended the law in public.

An opponent:

  • Supports amendments or competing legislation that would undermine the bill.
  • Withdraws sponsorship of the bill.
  • Speaks out against the bill (e.g., Sen. Rand Paul's

The majority of members of Congress are listed as having an unknown position and this may be the case up until they cast a vote.

Campaign Finance Information

Using the API and data from OpenSecrets and the Center for Responsive Politics, we included the reported campaign contributions (as categorized by OpenSecrets) from the "Movies/Music/TV" and "Computers/Internet" industries for the 2008 to 2010 election cycles. 2012 is not yet available through the OpenSecrets API yet. The totals here may differ compared to other SOPA-tracking sites because of the different timespans involved.

While many other groups, including labor unions and pharmaceutical companies, are also joining the SOPA/PIPA debate. We focus on the entertainment and computing industries because they have so much at stake financially and therefore have the biggest incentive to use money to influence politicians.

Steal Our Data

You can grab SOPA Opera's data in JSON format at the following endpoint. Be sure to read our Data Terms of Use before you use it.

“...would give the Justice Department the authority to block access to foreign websites deemed to be dedicated to copyright infringement.”

That’s…charitable.  I’m sure that’s the intention (that, and crushing WikiLeaks), but it’s certainly not how it’s written.

The mechanism in use is that a copyright holder can issue a notice to cut off hosting, DNS (name-to-address lookup), search results, and payment processing.  There’s no penalty for complying without reason, and the appeal is fussy and needs to happen faster than cases can be reviewed.

The upshot is that entire sites can be removed from existence on the say-so of a private actor (and Hollywood has a history of fraudulent DMCA notices) with very little short-term oversight.

It’s only supposed to be used against non-US sites, but I have my doubts their definition is easily applied.

Other than that, I applaud the effort to organize this.  I feel like I recently saw someone else building a list (so you may wish to coordinate), but can’t find it from my desk—I thought maybe the EFF, but it’s nowhere on their site.  I’ll hunt during the night.  It didn’t have as catchy a name, certainly.

Sadly, my Congressman did everything but pat me on the head and call me “little lady” in patronizing me on the topic…

It’s the same argument that Hollywood tried to ban the VCR and what the record company said about radio.  Even assuming rampant corruption, it’s shocking to see this many lawmakers saying that privatized censorship is acceptable to protect the bottom line of an already-failing industry that hasn’t shown any damage from piracy (I mean “lost sales,” not “someone got something for free”).

These items are in the evolving world to become just like un-controllable drug prductions and trades, legislations etc. will end in a fiasco. Movie, music business etc. will collect entertainment service charges through digital service providers globally.

Ron Paul is against the Protect IP Act as written. If it passes, then it will be more difficult for diabetics to import the natural pork & beef insulin that they need for survival and quality of life. Even Eli Lilly stated that rDNA synthetic human insulin wouldn’t work for many diabetics and rDNA human insulin is the only insulin available in America. Why isn’t natural pork & beef insulin protected by the “Orphan Drug Act”? Pork & Beef insulin should be available in America again for diabetics. Please watch the movie Puncture, because the same thing is happening with insulin in America.

David Solomonoff

Jan. 13, 2012, 12:14 p.m.

Vint Cerf, the legendary computer scientist known as “the father of the Internet” wrote warning of the dangers of SOPA to its author, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), saying “SOPA’s site-blocking provisions remain problematic. They would undermine the architecture of the Internet and obstruct the 15 year effort by the public and private sectors to improve cybersecurity through implementation of DNSSEC, a critical set of extensions designed to address security vulnerabilities in the DNS .... requiring search engines to delete a domain name begins a worldwide arms race of unprecedented ‘censorship’ of the Web.”

Full content of letter included in c|net article here:

at first as long as their giving their true intentions, protecting licenses and piracy and a persons ability to better the country for all, i see nothing wrong w pipa or sopa, unless they re talking out of side of their mouth and lookin at floor, so if they are truly honest it could be good, but if they re spinning it, it would not be good to pass, we ll see either way

OH, the irony button - Senator Feinstein’s official You Tube channel has uploaded copyrighted material that does NOT belong to her. And she supports PIPA.

She just doesn’t get it.

Good Grief… 1984… big brother… Revolution is in need! No longer “We The People..”, but “We The Corporate Authority” and Washingtons puppets bowing to the sirens sweetly singing and the Holy Dollar! Time to eradicate those that oppose what “We The People” are screaming in vain as it falls upon deafened ears! They’re digging Americas grave, unknowingly a tomb they shall soon reside in as the issues of one-hundred and fifty years ago truly continue; States Rights? Federal Authoritarianism? Civil War! Rebel against Washingtons Grip, and plead with your state! To HELL with Washington, To HELL with this Union!

A bunch of crusty old politicians making policy to censor the internet.  You non tech idiots!!  Do you even know what you are doing here??

Please post the voting results so we know who to vote against in the next election.

Joe, don’t be silly.  If you check the transcripts and footage of the hearings, it’s plain that they not only don’t know what they’re doing, but wear their ignorance as a badge of honor!  Several times (I read the EFF Twitter feed that posted quotes live), Congressmen explained that they have no idea what a URL is, but they’ve made their decision anyway.

In any case, Rep. Smith just announced the bill is “shelved,” presumably meaning they’ll wait for people to stop talking about it, probably try to coast through the elections, and try again next December with better PR and secrecy.

(Wikipedia apparently agrees.  They’re still blacking out the English site on Wednesday in opposition to SOPA.)

And PIPA is still on the table, with the Senators looking to move faster on passing it like good little lapdogs.

So, I do recommend remembering this list in November.  Bad as piracy is (at least as damaging as these unending copyright terms held by nobody in particular), this bill directly advocates censorship and vigilantism and rejects due process.  That’s what the supporters think of their oath to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.”

Brian Bredekamp

Jan. 16, 2012, 5:53 p.m.

I would not be here if not for info I got from the internet. I took the statin drug Lipitor by Pfizer. It almost killed me. I had to find info that Dr.s would not help me with. I would have died without it. Thousands use a site called to get help for this. Pfizer wants it down. They would rather have people die, them to let them find out that the drug hurts people. Its all for the money.

There are already laws on the books to protect copyrighted materials.
There are already agencies that enforce, both within gov’t and the royalty collecting companies (BMI, ASCAP, etc)  Do we need another frankenstein agency and the inefficient bureaucrats to run it?

Have to find new ways and forget about copy right things of the past century. Old dreams are unrealistic in new digital world.

This is why we need freedom on the internet. Importing insulin now.                                                                                                                                          I just read that George H.W.Bush & Dan Quayle with ties to Eli Lilly encouraged the fast track of the rDNA synthetic insulin through the FDA & then the Bush administration tried to limit the public’s ability to sue drug companies. The profits from rDNA synthetic insulin affords the powerful to purchase new cars for their children, while we parents of diabetic children are left to purchase coffins or worse for our children, because of the defective insulin that we are forced to buy in America.
                                                                    She is right. Cloned insulin is a defective product. In Eli Lilly’s cloned insulin’s phase 2 clinical trials in England in 1982, there was a 30% adverse reaction rate. But Eli Lilly covered that percentage up and had their own doctors report a 2 to 3% adverse reaction rate. Again, Eli Lilly wanted to raise the price of insulin and couldn’t do so unless they “improved” it. But cloned insulin IS NOT an improvement, just another defective product from Eli Lilly.

Barry, just to clarify, the idea for PIPA and SOPA isn’t to fight piracy in the United States, but rather overseas.  Without a treaty and without support from the local government, an American can’t compel a Chinese website to stop selling bootleg movies, and you can’t reasonably stop an American from taking advantage of that.  So, the principle idea is to find these sites and block them from sight in the United States.

From the perspective of copyright as a moral right of exploitation (rather than as a government-granted monopoly in exchange for eventual common access), it makes a certain amount of sense.  Since Time-Warner can’t strong-arm The Pirate Bay and Prada can’t sue Chinese counterfeiters (or since Scientology can’t strongarm Wikileaks—in fact, all whistleblowing evidence is copyright infringement), erasing all traces of the site would be the next-best thing.

And if you don’t care about the Bill of Rights and/or fear the Internet (see the Roger Ailes quote on the first page), then of course the price isn’t very high to preserve quarterly earnings.

Beyond the technical problems (pirate sites will just move around, downloaders will use raw IP addresses, and censoring DNS will cause widespread failures) though, SOPA and PIPA also go a step further to criminalize circumvention.  Talking about how to bypass the blocks or creating tools to do so (like Tor) would also be subject to takedown even in the United States.  That’s what has Wikipedia screaming—the site would be subject to shutdown (including cutting funding) for having an article explaining Tor or listing a foreign proxy service.

So you’re right.  It’s a terrible idea ripe for abuse of censorship, and nobody should be trusted with that kind of power.  However, the people who want the power don’t see it as censorship or see it as a minor, unintended effect of protecting themselves.

Copyright is very important for a variety of reasons related to attribution and integrity of ideas, not to mention assistance in exploiting your own work.  It’s worth noting that the recent trend for Open Source software and Free Culture (such as the articles on this site) couldn’t exist without firm copyright protections.  But this elevates that (and doubly elevates it in large corporations, which can more easily take advantage of the protection while exploiting crowd-sourcing and other naive creators) well beyond the unalienable rights of the people.

That was absurdly long-winded, so I won’t follow up on the insulin issue other than to sort of quietly nod.  Genetic engineering is still in its infancy, and forcing people to rely on it because “it should work fine” was and still is stupid.  Imagine someone outlawing eating anywhere except McDonalds, because hey, it’s cooked meat and potatoes, so it’s gotta be just like what you’d cook at home…

hi well if thay pass no one is thinking thay wont be able to sale steff or do what thay wont on the site or thay mite have to pay for the site to stay on the net but its got to be free and be that way and the person that owns the site dont let iny one tell ya thay take you off the net and let them be one

Doesn’t matter how hard the greed-blind businessmen try to monopolize Internet related products, these dumb, uncrupulous profiteers will fail like super idiots. It’s not that easy oil and monopoly gas pump type business and the way they are still stealing money everyday from ordinary people’s pockets. Internet will eventually rescue global public and help stop theivery of emirs and kings!

Austin Hoffman

Jan. 18, 2012, 11:31 a.m.

This is just terrible….SOPA is the equivalent of curing a headache with a guillotine. It may stop piracy, but it would shut down our economy and unconstitutionally erode our most basic freedoms in the process.

I just hope that everyone realizes how important this is and does their part to save the internet & our economy! is another good video that explains the consequences of SOPA pretty well:

1,000s of more websites have joined the force and went dark today, we need EVERYONES help!!!!

Frank Wilson

Jan. 18, 2012, 4 p.m.

why to mess and add more laws on the books to protect copyrighted materials.this is BS . I think we can see how the U.S. Politicians are control by the few that have to much money. Who are we going to Vote for the next election, none of this supportive idiots.


Jan. 18, 2012, 6:31 p.m.

January 18, 2012 11:04 AM
WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, issued the following statement today regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), which are pending anti-online piracy bills in Congress.

“I support strong efforts to curb piracy and protect intellectual property, but SOPA and PIPA create unacceptable threats to free speech and free access to the internet,” Larsen said. “I have heard from many of my constituents in Northwest Washington who are deeply concerned about the potential impacts of SOPA and PIPA. Online piracy is a serious problem that costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars. Government agencies must be empowered to stop and prosecute intellectual property thieves. But in doing so we cannot undermine freedom of speech or jeopardize the free flow of information on the internet. I will work with my colleagues to see that any final anti-online piracy legislation protects the internet and does not encroach on free speech rights. Until then, I will oppose SOPA and PIPA in their current forms.”

I’d also recommend Clay Shirky’s TED talk from yesterday (Jan 18th), where he simplifies a lot, but explains clearly enough that for all the problems, it has the additional feature of having no chance of stopping piracy.

Incidentally, the EFF counts about a million e-mails to Congress just through their monitored action page.  Google says about four and a half million people signed their petition.  I haven’t seen any other numbers.  I did read that some anonymous “Hollywood moguls” have decided to cut their campaign contributions to Obama for daring to release a statement that he won’t sign a law that permits censorship or damage to the Internet’s infrastructure (which was a wussy thing to say, not mentioning those bills outright, since the bill’s supporters don’t believe it censors or breaks anything).

I don’t think these sorts of actions have the same impact as a handwritten letter or a face-to-face meeting, but it’s a good start and the voice has certainly been heard and understood as support declines.

More important than Sopa, Pipa is freedom of Internet, Drug and Oil industries at the light of new world politics.

Do you know how the Solar system works in the Cosmic setting?

*A tiny solar ray reaches the earth and that’s all?
** Worry of depletion is a small mind matter.
*** Do you have any idea of unlimited alternate cleaner sources?

Religiously blind guys in any modern authority is dangerous now. Look at Bangladesh.Wise guys like Writer Gorbachev is now needed in Russia again. And Bangladesh need one too.Billionaires, oil rich bullying thugs, even guys like Rupert Murdoch, just like Ahmadinejad should learn what is generosity.Old days politics by controlled medias are vanishing!They – the dumb heads can’t see the light!

Misc. positive thoughts of tomorrow’s reality. USA as viewed from global perspective:

Religiously blind minded guys in new world’s politics are now more dangerous than ever.

The good news is: Never US will be a terrorist country under truly honourable and personally honest Mr. Barack Obama who DO not Have and will never have any personal gain from oil business. He has honest earnings from mankind benefiting books of good political knowledge.

New world politics would be free of old religious dogmas and blind-beliefs.

Leave religions at home. Biological brother is more important than religious brother. To your brother: Ahmedinajad, respect Obama and try to learn about greatness of leadership from him and send those toy-drones as smaller version to Israeli businessmen and scientists that wants to kill your scientists! No dumb head is now capable of making the real big ones, as they failed to kill single heads like Saddam, Gaddafi, Laden etc.

The better part of lesson is here:
In the Cosmos nothing changes but power and monetary greed of few guys on earth have created a artificial reality, therefore, global public, all you need is have fun watching dumb operators of Governments except current US administration and do not worry at all!

It’s your understanding and awareness of facts that will make the difference. One major fact is: when North and South -America will increase its oil and natural gas productions to a level- only to export (not importing one drop of oil) and Middle Eastern thugs can no longer control oil production, oil price will drop. The more we burn oil and other energy sources, the more nature will produce those under and above surface but the artificially controlled and maintained crisis is caused only by greed blind rulers of hereditary styled ownership of lands.

Please take absurdity (somewhat) easy.

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