Lamar Smith: SOPA protesters were “misinformed.”

SOPA sponsor and defender Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) just can’t let the ideas that led him to sponsor the Stop Online Piracy Act die. In an interview in a community paper he pledged to deal with online piracy, and called SOPA supporters misinformed.

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Anti-piracy legislation has traditionally been one of the few areas of genuinely bi-partisan action on Capitol Hill. Insofar as the issue was controversial, the conflicts were either generational (see: “series of tubes”) or regional (Northern vs. Southern California). SOPA, after all, was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and a deeply conservative Republican from a very red district. PIPA, on the other hand, was drafted by Sen. Patrick Leahy, the liberal senator from Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the wake of The Great Blackout, however, there are signs of increasingly partisanship on the issue. During the Republican primary debate last night, the candidates were asked (via Twitter) about SOPA and three of the four denounced it in unusually partisan terms. Newt Gingrich blamed it on “Hollywood liberals” (no doubt news to Lamar Smith), Ron Paul called it big government and Mitt Romney said he opposed it because “I’m standing for freedom,” whatever that meant. Only Rick Santorum expressed support for “the goals” of SOPA and PIPA, if not for the bills themselves. Meanwhile, as the Wall Street Journal points out this morning, most of the remaining supporters of SOPA are now Democrats.

SOPA and PIPA for newbies

If you’re just hearing about SOPA and PIPA, the complexity of these controversial bills can seem daunting. Here’s your quick guide to the proposed pieces of legislation and a one-stop shop of resources that can help you learn much, much more.

Today in Connected Consumer

The big news over the weekend was the Obama Administration’s announcement via the White House blog that it would oppose the DNS blocking provisions of SOPA and PIPA. The White House had obviously slipped the word late last week that the announcement was coming to the chairmen of the House and Senate Judiciary Committess, respectively Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Ver.), the bills’ principal sponsors, because each announced Friday that they would drop that provision from the measures, at least for now (Smith, Leahy). The White House announcement is unlikely to be the last word on the matter, however. On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would move forward with PIPA as planned later this month even without the DNS blocking provision, a move that ultimately could force the House to respond in kind. Meanwhile, interest groups on all sides of the issue are gearing up for a protracted battle over how far the government should go in combating online piracy.

Today in Connected Consumer

With one day to go before the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, the maneuvering around the bill is going hot and heavy. On Tuesday, committee chair and chief sponsor of the bill Rep. Lamar Smith introduced a so-called manager’s amendment that tweaked a few of the most controversial in hopes of peeling off some the opposition to the overall bill. Advocacy groups in Washington that were opposing bill were unimpressed, however, and are still opposing it. Several tech heavyweights, including Google’s Sergey Brin, eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, along with some leading VCs from Sand Hill Road, fanned out across Capitol Hill yesterday to try to rally opposition to the bill. Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa today is expected formally to introduce the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act, an alternative bill designed to give Congressional opponents of SOPA a vehicle for voting in support of an anti-piracy measure without having to vote for SOPA itself. Your tax dollars at work.