Republican Candidates Talk SOPA

Share This Article!

Written By admin at Friday, January 20th, 2012

Republican support in the Senate for antipiracy legislation that had brought lawmakers together for most of the year is dwindling. But where do the Republican presidential candidates stand on the issue?

During the CNN debate Thursday, they were asked to state their views on the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. (Spoiler: none supports the legislation, at least in its current form.)

Newt Gingrich:

Well, you’re asking a conservative about the economic interests of Hollywood. And I’m weighing it. I’m weighing it. I’m not — I’m not rushing in. I’m — I’m trying to think through all of the many fond, left-wing people who we’re so eager to protect.

On the other hand, you have virtually everybody who’s technologically advanced, including, you know, Google and YouTube and Facebook and all the folks, who say this is going to totally mess up the Internet, and the bill in its current form is written really badly and leads to a range of censorship that is totally unacceptable.

Well, I favor freedom. And I think that if you — you know, I think — we have a Patent Office, we have copyright law. If a company finds that it has genuinely been infringed upon, it has the right to sue for — for — but the idea that we’re going to preemptively have the government start censoring the Internet on behalf of giant corporations’ economic interests strikes me as exactly the wrong thing to do.

Mitt Romney:

I think [Gingrich] got it just about right. The the truth of the matter is  that that the law as written is far too intrusive, far too expansive, far too threatening to freedom of speech and movement of information across the Internet. It would have a potentially depressing impact on one of the fastest- growing industries in America, which — which is the Internet and all those — those industries connected to it.

At the same time, we care very deeply about intellectual content that’s going across the Internet. And if we can find a way to very narrowly, through our current laws, go after those people who are pirating, particularly those from offshore, we’ll do that — but a very broad law which gives the government the power to start stepping into the Internet and saying who can pass what to whom — I think that’s a mistake. And so I’d say, no, I’m standing for freedom.

Ron Paul:

I was the first Republican to sign on with a host of Democrats to oppose this law. And we have worked — (cheers, applause) — we have had a concerted effort, and I feel like we’re making achievements. There — this bill is not going to pass, but watch out for the next one.

And I am pleased that the attitude has sort of mellowed up here, because the Republicans, unfortunately, have been on the wrong side of this issue. And this is a good example on why it’s good to have somebody that can look at civil liberties and work with coalitions and bring people together.

Freedom and the Constitution bring factions together. I think this is a good example.

Rick Santorum:

I don’t — I don’t support this law, and I agree with everybody up here that it goes too far. But I will not agree with everybody up there that there isn’t something that — that can and should be done to protect the intellectual property rights of people.

The Internet is not a — a — a — a free — a free zone where anybody can do anything they want to do and trample the rights of other people. And — and particularly when we’re talking about — in this case, we’re talking about entities offshore that are doing so, that are pirating things.

So the idea that the government — that you have businesses in this country and that the government has no role to try to protect the intellectual property of people who have those rights in this country from people overseas pirating them and then selling them back into this country, I — you know, I — it’s great; I mean, I’m for free, but I’m not for — for people abusing the law. And that’s what’s happening right now, and I think something proper should be done.

I agree this goes too far. But the idea that, you know, anything goes on the Internet, where did that come from? Where — where in America does it say that anything goes. We have laws, and the respect of law and the rule of law is an important thing, and property rights should be respected.

Law Blog