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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.