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SOPA Opera Update: Opposition Surges

SOPA Blackout Day led to a surge in opposition among members of Congress.

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

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 Ben Quayle were the only co-sponsors to have withdrawn their support of either SOPA or PIPA (Quayle did so without announcement just the day before). By the end of the Wednesday, at least six other co-sponsors had announced they had withdrawn their support.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 [email protected]

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.

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