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PIPA Vote Delayed, Notable Win, Now Kill It Off

January 18, 2012 - by David Moore

Update 1-20-2012, 10am ET: Sen. Reid has officialy pulled the cloture vote on the PIPA net censorship bill that was scheduled for Tues. Follow Ernesto Falcon for updates. More to come here. Shout-out to our new net-freedom sibling org. Fight For the Future & all the terrific groups/allies/activists in the American Censorship coalition. Booya.

Update 1-19-2012, 10am ET: Politico has a fresh whip count as well. “A day later, here’s our tally: Of the 40 original sponsors on the PROTECT IP Act before the protest began, six have dropped: Sens. Marco Rubio, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley and David Vitter. Others sponsoring the bill say they still support the measure but are working to make changes. On that list are: Sens. Ben Cardin, Robert Menendez, Jeff Bingaman, Lamar Alexander, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Tim Johnson, Johnny Isakson, Al Franken, Joseph Lieberman, Bill Nelson, Saxby Chambliss, Mary Landrieu, Thad Cochran, Chris Coons, Herb Kohl, Sheldon Whitehouse, Jim Risch, Kirsten Gillibrand, Chuck Schumer, Kay Hagan and Michael Bennet. The remaining 12 other original co-sponsors did not return comment by press time.”

 PPF’s position, with our American Censorship allies, is that no tweaks to #SOPA / #PIPA are acceptable, and that the bills need to be torn up. More at PK. The only acceptable vote is no on cloture, no on any proposed manager’s amendment, no hypothetical backroom deals b/w chambers, no on legal frameworks for net censorship. We encourage our visitors to continue lighting-up switchboards on this week, and especially on Monday January 23rd. SOPA and PIPA are together the least-popular bills among the OpenCongress community in the past year.

More thoughts on the protest from our sibling FFtF

[Yesterday] was nuts, right?

Google launched a petition.  Wikipedia voted to shut itself off.  Senators’ websites went down just from the sheer surge of voters trying to write them.   NYC and SF geeks had protests that packed city blocks.

You made history today: nothing like this has ever happened before.  Tech companies and users teamed up.  Tens of millions of people who make the internet what it is joined together to defend their freedoms.  The free network defended itself.  Whatever you call it, the bottom line is clear: from today forward, it will be much harder to mess up the internet. 

The really crazy part?  We might even win.

Approaching Monday’s crucial Senate vote there are now 35 Senators publicly opposing PIPALast week there were 5.   And it just takes just 41 solid “no” votes to permanently stall PIPA (and SOPA) in the Senate.  What seemed like miles away a few weeks ago is now within reach. 

But don’t trust predictions.  The forces behind SOPA & PIPA (mostly movie companies) can make small changes to these bills until they know they have the votes to pass.  Members of Congress know SOPA & PIPA are unpopular, but they don’t understand why—so they’re easily duped by superficial changes.  The Senate returns next week, and the next few days are critical.  Here are two things to think about:

1. Plan on calling your Senator every day next week.  Pick up the phone each morning and call your Senators’ offices, until they vote “no” on cloture.  If your site participated today, consider running a “Call the Senate” link all next week.  

2. Tomorrow, drop in at your Senators’ district offices.  We don’t have a cool map widget to show you the offices nearest you (we’re too exhausted! any takers?).  So do it the old fashioned way: use Google, or the phonebook to find the address, and just walk in, say you oppose PIPA, and urge the Senator to vote “no” on cloture.  These drop-in visits make our spectacular online protests more tangible and credible.  

That’s it for now. Be proud and stay on it!

1-18-2012: OpenCongress is back online – as of a bit after 8pm ET, our anti-PIPA strike action has come to a close. Thank you everyone for helping to spread the word and understanding why we joined a huge, huge, sprawling, informed, diverse, public-spirited, energetic, entrepreneurial, reality-based, passionate, design-rich coalition to protest PIPA & SOPA, the worst Internet bills in history and together the most-opposed legislation by the OC user community in the past year.

First, a piece of big site news (which unfortunately still pales in light of the fact that the #PIPA & #SOPA net censorship bills are still very alive & terribly dangerous). Today’s #PIPA protest has already blown away our record for most web traffic in a day. That’s tops since we launched way back in 2007, and shatters previous traffic spikes around unemployment insurance (2008-2009) & health care reform (2009-2010). We’ll announce the total tally later today, but if traffic keeps up at this rate, we may even double our previous high in visits in a single day. Remarkable, big thanks to Craigslist, Reddit, Fight For the Future, and everyone else who linked to our PIPA resources today. The traffic rush was truly overwhelming… a good problem to have. But to help keep OC online, responsive, and well-tuned, we need more resources – please make a (tax-exempt) donation to our not-for-profit public resource and help us afford a more robust infrastructure to deal with good problems like these! It’s badly needed and much-appreciated. 

This post will be continually updated as we seek to refine our successful wiki community project: whip the Senate against PIPA. The level of (libre) data & (cited) detail there is impressive – we had every confidence in the OC community, and this is why. Tremendous public resource – one we’ll see to bring to any/all bills on OC going forward. For background visit the project homepage, and for more detail visit the Senate call logs.  

Realizing this is still an early-draft, with formatting & links to-be-added, here’s what we know: 

1. We started 2012 w/ four senators firmly on-record as opposed to PIPA (Wyden, Cantwell, Moran, Paul)… 

2. Mark Warner became fifth (caveats here) … 

3. Five days ago, in an incredible turn of events, six GOP senators sent a letter asking Sen. Reid to slow PIPA consideration (Coburn, Cornyn, Grassley, Hatch [who today dropped co-sponsorship firmly], Lee, Sessions) … 

4. … five other Sens were on-record as of this morning as various stages of lean-opposed (Scott Brown, Cardin, Udall, Toomey, and one other…) … for a total of 16 senators somewhat- to firmly-opposed to PIPA on the OC wiki whip count (again, not intended to be canonical, but at least documented …) 

5. Today, five senators reversed support – Blunt, Boozman, Hatch, Kirk, Rubio – incl. two former co-sponsors, Hatch & Rubio – four of those five are ‘new’, so that’s 20 sens on-record before counting more from today … 

6. Today, at least five add’l sens announced opposition publicly & pretty firmly – see OC wiki page above for relevant citations & links to news articles / tweets — Blumenthal, DeMint, Inhofe, Johanns,, Lautenberg – that’s 25 “known” positions leaning opposed, though obvs. w/ lots of wiggle room, before counting :: 

7. Today, OC users added five more ‘verbal’ leaning-opposition positions to sens, citing either a verbal communication or a letter on OC: Begich,Collins, Crapo, Kyl, Mikulski. That’s 30 “known” positions leaning opposition, which is where we stand now.

More detail & precise quotes to come on the above … nuance is indeed important here, but as of now, from the above bullet-points, it’s possible to state a heartening takeaway from the widespread #PIPA protests: Today, at least five senators solidly reversed their support of PIPA – including two previous co-sponors (Sens. Rubio & Hatch) – and at least five more announced their opposition publicly in a sufficiently-solid manner.

Other reliable counts from our allies, which we hope to share shortly, puts the hard ‘no’ count at eight senators. Keep in mind that 41 senators are needed to vote against the cloture vote on Tuesday, Jan. 24th. Lots more links (which I’ll tease out as time allows) on my micropublishing acc’t today.

Let’s also keep in mind what my friends & colleagues at Fight For the Future pointed out: today was likely the largest online protest in history. Many more metrics to come – good progress made today in stopping this rush to enact such terrible legislation.  Legislation as preposterously terrible — even un-Constitutional — as SOPA and PIPA should have been non-starters. A diverse coalition of opponents — from tech entrepreneurs to non-profit organizations — have argued correctly that the bill will negatively affect economic development, the free flow of information, and net neutrality. Clearly, the only reason that the Senate is rushing to hold a vote on PIPA as soon as it returns on January 24th is that they don’t want any more public scrutiny or protests of its many fundamental flaws — and that supporters of the bill have given more than four times as much in campaign contributions as have opponents. PIPA is a perfectly egregious example of systemic corruption in the U.S. Congress and the reasons why our representative democracy badly needs comprehensive electoral reforms, including full public financing of federal elections, to mitigate the corrosive influence of corporate money in the political process. 

Enhancements / refinements to the whip-count summary above? Let us know, input welcome, we’re truly collaborative & amenable like that: email david at opencongress d0000t org. 

Update 1-19-2012, 3pm ET - from our valued ally Mark Stanley of the terrific Center for Democracy & Technology comes the above-mentioned enhanced / cited list of more-specific position statements by member, feedback welcome:

The following Senators have indicated they will vote “no” on cloture (thus, preventing PIPA from going to a floor vote):

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) (former cosponsor): “I will not only vote against moving the bill forward next week but also remove my cosponsorship of the bill.”

The following Senators have publicly expressed concern with Reid’s decision to try to move the bill to a floor vote on the 24th:

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA)

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Other Senators who have expressed concern with the cloture process include:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (former cosponsor): “I have decided to withdraw my support for the Protect IP Act. Furthermore, I encourage Senator Reid to abandon his plan to rush the bill to the floor.”

Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID): Has stated he wants more time to re-examine the legislation before going to a vote.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) (former cosponsor): “The overwhelming input I’ve received from New Hampshire citizens makes it clear there are many legitimate concerns that deserve further consideration before Congress moves forward on this legislation.”

The following Senators have said they oppose PIPA:

Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA): “I’m going to vote NO on PIPA and SOPA. The Internet is too important to our economy.”

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK): Released a statement entitled “INHOFE OPPOSES SOPA AND PIPA

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR): “Thanks for all the calls, emails, and tweets. I will be opposing #SOPA and #PIPA. We can’t endanger an open internet.”

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC): “I support intellectual property rights, but I oppose SOPA & PIPA. They’re misguided bills that will cause more harm than good.”

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) (former cosponsor): “I won’t be supporting the Protect IP Act (PIPA or SOPA as it’s called in the House of Representatives) … It’s a real mistake to press forward with a flawed bill now.”

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS): “Put me down for NO. While I recognize that copyright and patent holders need protection, the current SOPA and PIPA bills could destroy online entrepreneurship and innovation and could endanger the First Amendment.”

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AL): “I oppose PIPA.”

The following Senators have indicated they oppose PIPA in its current form. This leaves room to vote “yes” on cloture if a manager’s amendment is introduced:

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) (former cosponsor): “I would not vote for final passage of PIPA, as currently written, on the Senate floor.”

Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) (former cosponsor): “I will have my name removed as a co-sponsor of the bill and plan to vote against it if Majority Leader Reid brings it to the floor in its current form.”

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL): “I stand with those who stand for freedom and oppose PROTECT IP, S.968, in its current form.”

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) (former cosponsor): “The Protect IP Act is flawed as it stands today, and I cannot support it moving forward.”

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI): “I am opposed to passage of this legislation as currently drafted.”

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO): “If PIPA moves forward for Senate debate, I will fight to ensure that a full range of amendments is considered to fix the bill. And I will oppose passage of PIPA if it is not significantly improved.”

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): “SOPA & PIPA go too far. Online piracy is a real and serious problem, but there has to be a better way to go after rogue sites without fundamentally changing the way the Internet works.”

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) (cosponsor): “#NJ: I hear your concerns re: #PIPA loud & clear & share in these concerns. I’m working to ensure critical changes are made to the bill.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “The legislation before the Senate is currently being revised and should improve before it reaches a vote.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) (cosponsor): “I have steadfastly opposed SOPA and I believe that my conversations with advocates, experts and constituents have indicated serious flaws in the Protect Intellectual Property Act that need to be addressed and corrected.”

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) (cosponsor) “I am a co-sponsor of the PROTECT IP Act. I have listened to the concerns of many Georgians and I agree that these concerns must be addressed. Congress should avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences. However, as a co-sponsor I am in a better position legislatively to voice my concerns, and craft legislation that addresses Internet piracy while still protecting free and open access to the Internet.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME): “I share the legitimate concerns that the anti-piracy legislation, as currently drafted, needs significant revision. Rather than the Senate moving too quickly on the PROTECT IP Act, we should instead proceed cautiously, in an open and fair amendment process, to ensure that the legislation is narrowly tailored to target criminals while also preserving the integrity of the Internet.”

Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) (cosponsor): “Thank you for all your messages regarding Protect IP. I agree there are real concerns with the current legislation & I’m working to make important changes to the bill.”

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR): “While I commend the ongoing efforts to prevent online piracy, I am concerned that the Protect IP Act (PIPA) has too many unanswered questions and could lead to many unintended consequences. We need a solution that will protect intellectual property without restricting American’s rights to an open Internet. I believe we can do better, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to find a solution.”


Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) (cosponsor): “Because of the complexity and technical nature of this issue, we should come to an agreement that protects against online piracy but that avoids these consequences before we move forward.”

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA): “There is a version in the Senate that I am unlikely to support.”

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) According to CNET, “He’ll vote to override a promised filibuster from Sen. Ron Wyden … so ‘the bill can be debated and improved.’”

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI): “I have heard from hundreds of Hawaii residents concerned that the current drafts of SOPA and PIPA could lead to censorship, and I share your concerns. Amendments to the Senate bill are currently under discussion and I intend to carefully review the proposed changes before casting my votes next week.”

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