the cash, and the voracious congressional johns just can't get enough. SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) and her twin PIPA (Protect IP Act) seemingly have taken up permanent residence in the decadent chambers of the House and Senate, respectively. They are the 21st Century D.C. madams.
Sopa had originally been booked as a quickie earlier this fall, but bill sponsor Lamar Alexander (R-LA) abruptly pulled back on the scheduled vote, saying the process needed to be more drawn out to give more experts a chance to languish in the details. The process, with its endless parade of pro and con lobbyists and their fat wallets,was proving to be way too pleasurable, and could be extended even when Congress withdrew for its long winter break.
At first it appeared that a climactic vote this month might be inevitable. But the White House chimed in just this morning, urging more "study." (read: more lucrative can-kicking, more K Street pimps to help rewrite the legislation from scratch, more money for the bottomless partisan campaign war chests and individual bank accounts).
Sopa and Pipa, in case you haven't heard, were created by the Hollywood money machine, ostensibly to prevent illegal downloading of movies from foreign filesharing websites such as The Pirate Bay. From Wikipedia:
The originally proposed bill would allow the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as copyright holders, to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. Depending on who requests the court orders, the actions could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators such as PayPal from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for 10 such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.Opponents of the bills, and they are legion (mega-rich Google and Facebook among them), have a whole laundry list of complaints -- enactment would result in suppression of free speech; would constitute a threat to websites that host user content, leading to de facto government censorship without due process; would expose users of even legitimate uploaded content to potential criminal charges. Additionally, say critics, the proposals on their face are ineffectual against piracy. And then there's that lack of transparency we have come to expect under the current regime:
Brooklyn Law School professor Jason Mazzone warned, "Much of what will happen under SOPA will occur out of the public eye and without the possibility of holding anyone accountable. For when copyright law is made and enforced privately, it is hard for the public to know the shape that the law takes and harder still to complain about its operation." (Wikipedia).ProPublica, meanwhile, is living up to its name by launching a tool for us to track the tawdry exploits of Sopa and Pipa as they slink through the maze of soundproof rooms in the D.C. whorehouse. It's called SOPA Opera, and through it we can discover just how bipartisan the corruption truly is. Says creator Dan Nguyen:
SOPA Opera's tally of congressional supporters and opponents is based on factors including whether they've sponsored the legislation, whether they've voted for it in committee and their public statements about it. For each legislator, we're tracking what they've said or done so far about SOPA. We're also tracking campaign contributions to each legislator from the entertainment and Internet industries (using data from the Center for Responsive Politics).
Using the API and data from OpenSecrets  and the Center for Responsive Politics, we included the reported campaign contributions (as categorized by OpenSecrets ) from the "Movies/Music/TV" and "Computers/Internet" industries for the 2008 to 2010 election cycles. 2012 is not yet available through the OpenSecrets API yet. The totals here may differ compared to other SOPA-tracking sites because of the different timespans involved.What's in your congressperson's wallet? Is your rep in SOPA or PIPA's little black book?
While many other groups, including labor unions and pharmaceutical companies, are also joining the SOPA/PIPA debate. We focus on the entertainment and computing industries because they have so much at stake financially and therefore have the biggest incentive to use money to influence politicians.
Speaking of which, at least one professional lady is very much against the anti-piracy legislation, fearing that it might have the nefarious and unintended purpose of shutting down her own website, called "Diary of an Escort." (Hear that, David Vitter? And no, I am not providing a link, even though the site is very discreet and tasteful and non-pornographic).
Lawmakers and lobbyists could take a tip from "Thierry", a pimp who dishes on the niceties:
Before the start of the session, it is very important for you to make sure you have the cash available for the beautiful lady (politician), not paying an escort (pol) upfront is very disrespectful. You should always make sure you have enough money to cover the time scheduled.... and some extra because you might find that you arrive you are so charmed.... you might want to spend more time with her then expected.
Under no circumstances should she have to ask you for her donation. Payment must be made before all sessions begin. Instead of handing her the money when she walks through the door, it is better etiquette to place the money in a visible envelope that is in an obvious spot where she can see it when she walks in.