More Anti-Piracy Bill Co-Sponsors Bail (Updated)

Wed Jan 18, 2012 6:41pm EST

Two more co-sponsors of anti-piracy legislation in Congress backed away from legislation on Wednesday, as protests ramped up both online and in the streets.

Senators Marco Rubio (R-. Fla), Jon Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) backed away from the Senate bill, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) on Wednesday. 

Rubio said he remains committed to fighting piracy but wrote on his Facbeook page that he has "heard legitimate concerns about the impact the bill coul have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's power to impact the Internet."

Less than a week ago, six Senate Republicans wrote a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asking him to delay the cloture vote for the bill, which is set to take place Jan. 24.

On the House side, Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday rescinded their support for their version, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith has said the House will revisit the bill in February.

While both bills remain alive, the continued evaporation of support, with co-sponsors in the Senate dipping below 40, raises doubts about their viability.

Moreover, Congress members are only some of the high-profile figures speaking out against two bills.

Also Read: SOPA Protestors Hit the Streets in New York; Other Cities May Follow

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO and co-founder is another.

“Facebook opposes SOPA and PIPA, and we will continue to oppose any laws that will hurt the Internet,” Zuckerberg, he wrote his Facebook page.

“The world today needs political leaders who are pro-internet. We have been working with any of these folks for months on better alternatives to these current proposals,” he added.

Public discussion of the bills -- most of it unfavorable -- reached this fever pitch on Wednesday after sites like Wikipedia, Reddit and Word Press shut down their websites in protest. 

Also Read: Hollywood's Anti-Piracy Campaign Runs Aground

The likes of Wired and Google took different approaches to the remonstration, blacking out certain parts of their site.

Google blocked out the logo on its home page, directing users to a page with more information on the bills.

Wired.com blacked out all the headlines on its homepage because of “legislation that threatens to usher in a chilling internet censorship regime here in the U.S. comparable in some ways to China’s ‘Great Firewall.’”

My Damn Channel, an online entertainment studio, also went black as its CEO Rob Barnett told TheWrap that while his company clearly wants to protect IP, “My Damn Channel was founded to give great artists maximum creative freedom and we can’t support anything that could put their freedom in jeopardy.”

Twitter has been a breeding ground for much of this anti-SOPA sentiment, and it continued to be so Wednesday despite CEO Dick Costolo’s belittlement of the “blackouts.”

Everyone from professor and social commentator Cornel West to supermodel Bar Refaeli voiced their support for the protests, while one notable objector was News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch. 

"Seems blogosphere has succeeded in terrorizing many senators and congressmen who previously committed. Politicians all the same," Murdoch wrote.

While most of the commentary reflected an earnest approach to the matter, there were also those who opted for a lighter touch.

“I don't get the outrage. I love soap. I use it everyday, and I'm really glad Congress is supporting it,” joked Farhad Manjoo, a contributor to Slate, Fast Company and the New York Times.

“Shit, how do I find out what Wikipedia is!!?,” wrote Simon Pegg.

What Wikipedia is, is a company that Google supports financially.

Google donated $2 million in 2010 to the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs and maintains Wikipedia. Meanwhile, its co-founder, Sergey Brin, donated $500,000 to the Foundation in November of 2011 with his wife.

Critics of Google like to point out that the Internet behemoth often pumps money into organizations that protest piracy, using them as proxies for their own agenda.

Regardless of what sides you stand on, the protesting is dominating the web Wednesday, both on sites you can and can’t see.

Related Articles:  SOPA Protestors Hit the Streets in New York; Other Cities May Follow Hollywood's Anti-Piracy Campaign Runs Aground

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