GOP Debate: Remaining Four Republican Presidential Candidates Oppose SOPA

7:54 PM PST 01/19/2012 by Tina Daunt

Only Rick Santorum expressed an interest in cracking down on off-shore websites selling pirated goods.

If Hollywood moguls were looking for Republican allies to support their position on anti-piracy, former Sen. Rick Santorum is their only hope among the remaining GOP presidential hopefuls.

The former Pennsylvania senator was the lone candidate to express an interest in protecting intellectual property rights when the question was asked at CNN's South Carolina debate Thursday evening. (Don't count on his support on the Stop Online Piracy Act , however. He thinks the measure now pending in Congress is too far reaching.)

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Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, meanwhile, blasted SOPA.

"The law as written is far too intrusive, far too expansive," Romney said. "It would have a depressing impact on one of the fastest growing industries… I'm standing for freedom."

Gingrich used the opportunity to get in a couple digs at liberal Hollywood.

"You are asking a conservative about the economic interest of Hollywood?" Gingrich said. "I'm weighing it, I'm weighing it."

He joked that he was thinking about all the run-ins he's had in the past with "left Hollywood." Then he politely suggested that at the industry look to the country's existing copyright laws for protection.

As for the Internet? "I favor freedom," Gingrich said.

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Paul proudly told the crowd that he was the first Republican in Congress to publicly oppose SOPA. He warned: "[SOPA] is not going to pass but watch out for the next one."

Santorum said that he opposed the pending legislation because it "goes too far" but he argued that additional measures were needed to protect intellectual property rights on the Internet.

"The Internet is not a free zone where anyone can do anything they want to do and trample on the rights of people," said Santorum, amid boos from the audience. "I'm for free, but I'm not for people abusing the law, and that's what happening now. The deal that anything goes on the Internet, where did that come from?"

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