Meet the people behind SOPA

New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer are co-sponsors of the PROTECT IP Act.

The fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act ramped up to a climax Wednesday, as Internet heavyweights like Wikipedia and Reddit went dark in protest of the controversial anti-piracy bill. But while it’s apparent that the tech industry is ready to amass its muscle to prevent the bill’s passage, far less attention has been focused on SOPA’s supporters. Who are those people who want, in the words of the bill’s harshest critics, to shut down the Internet?

The major proponent of SOPA and its Senate Counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act, has been the entertainment industry, which says the bills’ controversial measures — most notably giving the government the authority to shut off access to sites copyright holders claim are hosting pirated material — are essential in curbing rampant online piracy. According to a report from advocacy organization Map Light, these companies have donated nearly $2 million to SOPA’s 32 congressional sponsors since the beginning of 2009.

Yes, 32 co-sponsors. (PROTECT IP had 40.) Support for SOPA and PIPA in Congress is wide and bipartisan, blurring traditional lines of conservatism and progressivism. To make just one example: Liberal firebrand Al Franken is a fierce proponent of the bill, while former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has expressed concerns about the government overreaching.

However, the grassroots campaign against SOPA appears to be chilling congressional enthusiasm. At least six co-sponsors removed their names from the bills Wednesday, and many more supporters have softened their tone.

In a joint statement, New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both co-sponsors of PROTECT IP, expressed sympathy with the Internet activists.

“There are two important issues in this debate: continued freedom of expression on the Internet and the ability to block online piracy,” the pair wrote. “We believe that both sides can come together on a solution that satisfies their respective concerns.”

Others, meanwhile, were less cowed. Rep. Lamar Smith, SOPA’s author, condemned Wikipedia’s efforts as a “publicity stunt,” while Recording Industry Association of America spokesman Jonathan Lamy minimized the potential effects of the blackout.

“After Wikipedia blackrout [sic], somewhere, a student today is doing original research and getting his/her facts straight.” Lamy wrote in a tweet, which he subsequently deleted. “Perish the thought.”


Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…


Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win


NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1


MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing


MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox


VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.


#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.