It's Time for Republican Presidential Candidates to Take a Stand on SOPA (Analysis)

The controversial legislation is on the verge of breaking out as an election issue this political cycle, so why have the candidates been given a pass on taking a strong position either way?
Mitt Romney in Ames, Iowa

The Hollywood Reporter has been attempting to survey where each of the Republican presidential candidates stand on the Stop Online Piracy Act, the hotly debated intellectual property bill that's currently under consideration in Congress and has been gaining buzz in social media forums.

So far, most of the Republican candidates have been wishy-washy, dancing around the topic, and refusing to take a strong stand either way on the pending legislation.

It's time that Mitt Romney and Co. offer their thoughts about SOPA.

We understand why SOPA hasn't been a topic that has engendered much discussion at the Republican debates. Intellectual property laws have traditionally been an esoteric issue, and debate moderators typically prefer topics like immigration, taxes and social policies that showcase deep partisan divides and possibly instigate fights among the candidates.

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But maybe for the first time in political history, this intellectual property fight is showing signs of breaking through as a real election issue that could move voters.

Consider the strong reaction when domain registration giant GoDaddy came out in favor of SOPA. A boycott led by social website Reddit influenced more than 70,000 of GoDaddy's customers to transfer their domains.

Upon the heels of that success, Reddit users have set their sites even higher -- targeting politicians.

In one post, a Reddit user writes, "“Let’s pick ONE Senator [who] voted for NDAA/SOPA and destroy him like we’re doing for GoDaddy. Relentlessly investigate and find skeletons in his closet, money bomb [h]is opponents, etc."

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The post already has more than 1600 comments.

The latest call for action follows another post last week on RedState from Erick Erickson, who many consider to be the most influential conservative blogger on the Internet.

Erickson hates SOPA so much that he says that he is willing to work to defeat Republican candidates who agree with him on practically every other issue. Erickson challenges the left to do the same -- establishing a fund that would go for a specific purpose. "It’s actually a simple idea," he writes. "The money should then be used to fund the primary challenges against the incumbent sponsors of SOPA."

On some liberal sites like DailyKos, similar calls for boycotts and political action against SOPA supporters have rung out.

Meanwhile, in Hollywood, SOPA continues to foster strong support. In recent weeks, some guilds have expressed concerns about whether the legislation goes too far, but overall, most of the industry associations and trade camps continue to speak up about the need for stronger IP laws to combat piracy.

And many in Hollywood are putting their money where there mouths are, too. It's not even 2012 yet, and already the 2012 election cycle has seen more than $18 million in campaign contributions from the film/TV/music sectors. They, also, deserve to know where the candidates stand on SOPA.

Next week, the presidential election gets going in full force with caucuses in Iowa. Then, onto New Hampshire, where another Republican debate is scheduled for Jan. 7 in Manchester.

As millions of dollars flow into the political system, and as this money gets used ironically enough to buy advertising in the very industries most impacted by the legislation, the perfect opportunity presents itself to ask the candidates what they think about SOPA. The Republican candidates have already answered thousands of questions on their tax and immigration policies, and at this point, their answers are hardly surprising. How about demanding an answer to something that is currently up for consideration in the Congress, which is causing many citizens to get out their wallets and move their digital feet?


Twitter: @eriqgardner