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Summary:

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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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. The Representative, who is from Austin, Texas, gave a few moments to a local community newspaper that I happened to see over the weekend. In it he pledged to deal with online piracy and called SOPA supporters misinformed.

In an interview with John Garrett, the publisher of Community Impact, Smith had this to say when asked if he still supports SOPA:

Well, SOPA is not going to rise again in its current form. I do think we have to address the current concerns. I still feel there is a serious problem with online piracy. And a lot of folks in Austin will agree, whether they are musicians who see their recordings stolen and downloaded for free … there are a lot of individuals who are hurt by online piracy. But there was also a lot of misinformation about this particular piece of legislation. The language of the bill clearly limited our concerns to foreign websites primarily engaged in illegal activity. When we would get calls at the office about, ‘You’re getting ready to shut down Facebook,’ or ‘you’re getting ready to stop Google,’ … no one had made a clear distinction between domestic websites and foreign websites primarily engaged in illegal activity. And we were simply overwhelmed by that misinformation.”

Hmmm, it seems as if Smith is a bit misinformed himself. The language in the bill may have been aimed at taking on foreign piracy, but the definitions of foreign and domestic web sites in the original bill meant that it could be used to target a U.S. web site as well, if that U.S. web site was registered with a foreign domain name registrar. Read the law here.

So, be warned. Smith isn’t done yet protecting the content industry from the business disruptions caused by the digitization of content and the Internet. And clearly when people protested, instead of hearing the voice of concerned citizens worried about the fragmentation of the Internet, he heard a bunch of people who didn’t know what they were talking about.

  1. This dumb idiot cannot understand that no one will pay for the ‘innovative’ American products. Piracy is the only way the product is reaching people.

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    1. What do you do for a living? Times are hard and stuff is expensive. Can I just steal some of your work? That’s the only way it’s going to reach me.

      More seriously, the issue with SOPA and it’s siblings was the lack of due process. We need something that protects content owners of all levels from piracy without handing a giant club to a few 1%ers to swing wildly wherever they please. The problem is simple: if you own something you are willing to sell, and someone else wants it, they should buy it from you. Not take it. But thieves are so clever and will find ways to work around the definitions of ownership and taking. The art is in crafting a law that states the problem in straightfoward enough terms that there aren’t any loopholes for the thieves to crawl through.

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      1. Start by negotiating a sane, consumer friendly and non-abusive copyright law regarding rights and length of term, and we will negotiate right back on something to protect content owners from piracy.

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      2. This might have meaning if copyright infringement were theft. But it isn’t. And you really don’t want it to be. Seriously.

        Of course, most of this is coming down to an outmoded business model. Artist make art. Artists should be paid to make their art. But for, say, musicians, that art isn’t a sound recording; it’s a live performance. Concentrate on that and stop worrying about the recordings. Afterall, demanding money for recordings is saying you only have to work once and should continue to be paid, whereas a waiter has to keep waiting new tables to keep getting a check.

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      3. Steve laws are made by people and broken by people. No law can be simple enough, and yet make 7 billion people on this planet comply to it. There was injustice in this world, and there will always be. Deal with it.

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  2. Michael Ball Monday, April 2, 2012

    The fact that Google is (a small) part of the opposition to SOPA and PIPA does not mean that SOPA/PIPA/ACTA aren’t incredibly flawed and dangerous. The action in these bills to counter piracy are already easily bypassed, and thus everyone else gets burned.

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    1. Brett you’re f’ing hilarious, I’m going to go ahead and pass you off as a viral marketeer for a major lobbyist. The only way I can keep my sanity is believing you’re acting insane for money.

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  3. “drklassen
    Monday, April 2 2012
    This might have meaning if copyright infringement were theft. But it isn’t. And you really don’t want it to be. Seriously.

    Of course, most of this is coming down to an outmoded business model. Artist make art. Artists should be paid to make their art. But for, say, musicians, that art isn’t a sound recording; it’s a live performance. Concentrate on that and stop worrying about the recordings. Afterall, demanding money for recordings is saying you only have to work once and should continue to be paid, whereas a waiter has to keep waiting new tables to keep getting a check”

    Huh? You mean I’m not allowed to sell copies of my performance/painting/photograph/other artistic output to people who want it but aren’t able to attend an original performance?

    Granted, the music machine has made generating income off of recordings less and less viable. The pendulum swings back and forth. In one era touring generates income. In another touring costs are so high that it’s basically a promotional write off in order to sell recordings. In spite of current touring costs, folks seem to be willing to spend inconceivable ticket prices to see a live show and so touring is the only way artists can make up for the dismal income from sales. Largely driven by this attitude that the public is going to decide for the artist where his paycheck is coming from, regardless of what he is trying to do. Entitled folks decide not whether they would rather buy and album or go see the show, but whether they would rather watch a cell phone video of the concert on youtube, or download the songs off a bit torrent site without paying for them.

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    1. No, you CAN sell a copy of your music or painting to someone who wants it but couldn’t attend the live performance – but if they then make their own copy and give it away (or sell it, if they’re so inclined), there’s nothing you can do about it, and I don’t think there should be anything you can do about it because once I have it its mine and I can to whatever I want with it.

      If you buy a cake in a shop, does the shop restrict your rights about who you can give the cake to? If you go home and bake a copy of the cake, should the shop sue you for infringement? In my opinion no – and media is no different.

      So, if someone wishes to purchase a copy, great! By all means, sell them a copy! There will always be people who buy copies, because they want to support you or because they feel its most convenient to them (I recently bought a CD directly from a musician – I still haven’t opened the case because I already have the mp3′s – but that didn’t stop me from buying the CD because I wanted to support an artist I like), but not everyone will and this is where you need to adapt your business model.

      I am involved with a few musicians (I’m not a musician myself) and we are innovating the business model to profit in a world where the music is free and I am certain that these musicians will make a very healthy living without ever needing to worry about piracy because piracy simply doesn’t affect the business model very much.

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      1. I love these rationalizations and twisted logic. On another blog someone posted the crux of the rationalization. Which I’ll apply to your cake example. Because the cake is physical, you can’t really reproduce it. You can share the finite quantity you have with whomever, which is part of the fair use. But if the bakery has copyrighted the recipe as part of maintaining a competitive advantage over other less creative bakeries, and you succeed in exactly reproducing copies (or you obtain the recipe without their permission) then yes you can be sued. If you sell your copies to others you should definitely be sued. If you give it away to all your fiends, thus depriving the original bakery of sales, then you should also be sued. As you have taken their recipe and hurt their business with it.

        It is this concept of infinite reproduciblity that is behind all these rationalizations. It’s just bits on a drive somewhere. There’s no “thing” that’s being stolen so how can it be theft. You can make infinite copies and the original will still be right where it always was. Nobody is being deprived of that original.

        Except that the original was placed on the market as part of a free exchange of value. The artist sets a price, and the buyers decide if they want to pay that much for it. Exactly the same as the creation and sale of physical objects. The cost of reproduction has no bearing on the cost of purchase. Do you honestly think physical thing you buy costs only what it took to make it? No, it takes creative people to invent it, people to detail the design, people to build the factories, and a host of people to keep things running so you can buy it. Just because a digital music copy only costs you a bit of bandwidth to reproduce, doesn’t mean that a lot of money wasn’t committed in making it, and that in placing it on the market for sale, the hope that some of that money will get paid off.

        This is where the issue of consent comes in. If some indie band wants to make a low fi recording on stuff they bought at Guitar Center and then give it away in hopes of getting some attention, that is their choice. They have given consent for people to have their product at no cost. But the reality is that all these folks are hoping to make it big and get signed by a label. Who will then front the bill for a proper recording studio with gear and engineers that will make them sound great. Which will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And now, they need to withdraw that consent to free copies, because they have bills to pay.

        Yes, there are exceptions to the rule like Radiohead. But even at that, a lot of these exceptions rode the train of letting someone else front the money for them to get big enough to turn around and thumb their noses at the industry and afford professional level personal studios so they could do it themselves. Even Nirvana let someone else in the form of small indie labels foot the bills for them. And when Dave Grohl says that his last album was done in his garage, he’s talking about a professional level studio with more than a hundred thousand in equipment paid for off of sales of Nirvana albums. Nothing is as free as you think.

        And if you think a musician can exist without sales of their music (or teaching on the side) then you have obviously never been on a tour, which is the only other way to make a living unless you happen to get a plumb union gig for Cirque de Soleil in Vegas. Imagine you had to ride in a van for 6 hours every day and then move a ton of equipment just so you could put in a days work. Only to be limited to grabbing some fast food and crashing in some roach motel. Or jumping back in the van and trying to sleep which sharing driving duties. It’s not a sustainable occupation. So if you manage to convince some folks that you can come up with a business model that is immune to piracy, I’d like to talk with them in 10 years and see what their lives are like. And whether they agree with you model then.

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    2. Over the past decade the record labels succeeded very well in destroying whatever respect the public used to have for them.

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  4. The Mormegil Monday, April 2, 2012

    IP Extremists complaining about lobbying is kinda hilarious. It’s like fish complaining about water.

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    1. Specially when he was stealing pictures online and putting them on his blog.

      Someone should seize and freeze his banking activities, I bet he is DEEPLY involved in fraud on VERY GREAT LEVELS. Including and not limited to cancer foundations, laundering dirty money from over seas for other head chairman of departments in USA. perhaps the largest in history

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  5. Google didn’t sign on to the Anti-SOPA bandwagon until the movement was already rapidly gaining steam. And it’s funny you mention astroturfing, which was exactly what the Pro-SOPA groups tried (and failed) to do in response.

    Plus what The Mormegil said. Copyright/IP Maximalists might get more of the public on their side if they weren’t so busy trying to control every inch of our lives.

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  6. Last time I checked, the musicians in Austin were perfectly happy with you downloading their content, as well as sharing it so they could build their brand. I’m not sure he’s speaking for anyone in Austin…

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  7. Last time I checked, the musicians in Austin were perfectly happy if you downloaded their music, or shared it. It helped build their brand and name as musicians. I’m not sure who exactly he is speaking for in Austin…

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  8. He is/was the author of SOPA. BY THE WAY. He is also the one that continues to fight against nationalizing medicinal cannabis for patients, or removal of un-necessary prohibition thereof. DOX’s go to proove he has BIG INTEREST and investment in Private Prison industries to top it off, so he and his family and best friends are living off of the misery and pain caused by the illegazation of cannabis in the states, and locking humans away like rodents for it too. Perhaps he is friends with Ted Turner who wants to depopulate 95% of humanity by the years end. Perhaps they have investments in FEMA and perhaps… perhaps PUFMM will topple them down before they get ANYWHERE near such a heavy attack on our brothers and sisters. Let our people go free and stop abusing and killing people for profits you evil idiots. You will reap what you sowe… truth be told.

    BTW, Lamar Smith… you too should stop breaking copyright laws, while you are at it, resign and allow more proficient young spirits to fix our nation and planet, before you old farts destroy what little you have left to the future generations. Lord knows how much cleaning is already needed thus far all over the place in so many ways.

    Namaste to all, research PUFMM on facebook.

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  9. The saddest part is we can’t just wait for these old out of touch people to die off because they’ve indoctrinated enough of the next generation of politicians to carry on with their obsolete methods instead of striving for something better.

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  10. adminmarkos Monday, April 2, 2012

    Speaking of parrotting, haven’t you said the same thing every time you have posted here?

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