Well, well, well what do we have here? It seems that the Vice website has found a tiny little hole in US Senator Lamar Smith’s rather untarnished website, which is more than we can say about his reputation.
Who is Lamar Smith, you ask? He is the author of the Stop Online Privacy Piracy Act or SOPA. SOPA, as we know, is a diabolical little bill that was up for debate a few days ago in the US Senate. If this Act had passed (which has not happened yet, thankfully), then if you use a copyrighted image on your website and do not take permission or credit the owner of the copyright, you will be jailed and/or penalized very harshly.
Logically speaking, by his own rhetoric, Lamar Smith should be jailed and/or penalized very harshly. As Vice found out, Lamar Smith was using a photograph that was taken by DJ Smith and released under Creative Commons license for the background of his website. The Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license under which this photograph was released clearly indicates that if the photograph is used:-
- then it must be used in a non commercial website or for a non commercial cause,
- it must be shared alike, i.e. the photograph must be released with the exact same license and
- the author of the media (the photographer) must be credited
While not asking for permission for using the photograph is alright, not attributing it to DJ Smith is a criminal offense. As the photographer says:-
I have no recollection, nor record of Lamar Smith or anyone from his organization requesting permission to use my image “Mist Lifting Off Cedars”. That lack of request does not violate the Creative Commons license although it does show high disregard for creative material producers. What does violate my Creative Commons license though is that I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that the image was attributed to the source (me). It would seem this image was improperly used by the organization of the very author of the SOPA bill that is being debated in Congress.
Unfortunately, it would seem like the creators and supporters of SOPA have little knowledge about the real process of creation, or indeed the novel ways in which media is shared around the internet.
However, it goes deeper than that. A little bit of sleuthing (also known these days are browsing pages on Wikipedia) provides some more information about Representative Smith:-
- In 2006, he proposed a bill that would give the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) more teeth when dealing with violators. By more teeth, we mean wiretapping authority on suspected violators of the DMCA. The DMCA, if you remember, is the primary reason why we have the scourge called Digital Rights Management still being thrown at legitimate customers of music, movies and video games.
- Just last year, a brilliant bill proposed by Barney Frank and Ron Paul that would put an end to the prohibition against marijuana use was opposed by Lamar Smith. He opposed it on the grounds that “[M]arijuana use and distribution is prohibited under federal law because it has a high potential for abuse and does not have an accepted medical use in the U.S., The Food and Drug Administration has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease.” All this right after the National Cancer Institute stated that “cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in the laboratory and the clinic for relief of pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite”. Apparently, decriminalizing a scientifically deemed harmless drug is a hard thing for Agent Mr. Smith to follow. This may be due to the next factoid, which is…
- In 2011 Smith had received $37,250 in campaign contributions from the Beer, Wine and Liquor Lobby, and $65,800 total between 2009 and 2011. Maplight.org listed the Beer, Wine, and Liquor Lobby as third among Smith’s top ten campaign contributors.
- Last, but not the least where we are concerned, he is also the proposer of the new Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, which is basically another internet freedom gagging bill with the convenient foil of child pornography thrown in for good measure so that any opponents of the bill can be easily shown to be secret child porn enthusiasts. This bill will force Internet Service Providers to keep eighteen month records of all activity on all their customers because anyone could be looking around for child porn (apparently). If this does not seem like an easy back door for Big Brother to spy on us, I suggest you wake up from your deep political slumber.
In a recent post on online community Reddit, a poster in the campus of University of Texas, Austin denounced Lamar Smith, a comment by Reddit user CookiesAHelluvaDrug (remember content is more important than the username) went on to say:-
*Voted YES on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror. (Nov 2001
*Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects. (Nov 2007)
*Rated 17% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes. (Dec 2003)
*Voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. (Apr 2011)
*Voted NO on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol. (Jun 2000)
*Voted YES on deauthorizing “critical habitat” for endangered species. (Sep 2005)
*Rated 0% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes. (Dec 2003)
*Voted YES on restricting independent grassroots political committees. (Apr 2006)
*Voted NO on protecting whistleblowers from employer recrimination. (Mar 2007)
*Rated 0% by APHA, indicating a anti-public health voting record. (Dec 2003)
*Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps. (Feb 2011)
*Voted NO on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad. (Mar 2008)
*Voted YES on continuing military recruitment on college campuses. (Feb 2005)
*Rated 0% by the ARA, indicating an anti-senior voting record. (Dec 2003)
*Voted YES on terminating funding for National Public Radio. (Mar 2011)
*Voted NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq. (Jun 2008)
*Voted NO on removing US armed forces from Afghanistan. (Mar 2011)
Remember, UT falls under Smith’s area of representation.
Now I am not the one to make an ad hominem argument about a politician who does not even belong to my country, but from his exemplary track record, it would seem like this man does not have a shred of good sense left in him. Seriously, stop electing this guy. I do hope he never goes into the lower house ever again.
[Photo: Mist Lifting off Cedars by dj @ oxherder arts]
[Hat tip to Chinmoy for letting me know about this guy]