SOPA Author Violates Copyrights On His Own Site, Is Also Guilty Of Being Very Immoral

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. 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:-

Lamar Smith:
*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]

Slew of Websites Black Out to Protest SOPA/PIPA

The scourges that are the United States’ two gagging Acts – the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) – are experiencing grave turmoil as large sections of the widely used Internet are blacking out for one day in protest against their draconian nature. The ongoing protest against the Bills intensified as Wikipedia, a veritable behemoth on the Internet, joined in the protest as we mentioned earlier. Following close on its heels is the giant community link aggregation website Reddit as well as the website of indie game maker Mojang, the creators of Minecraft. Many other gaming company heads joined together to stand against the draconian law’s enactment.

If passed, the Bills will allow any legal entity that claims copyright infringement on a site to take it down completely, instead of the offending article. For example, if Techie Buzz published an article containing a copyrighted image from a leading record label’s website, our blog will be taken down immediately, without trial. This is even if we give the due credit where it is due.

In short, this is a gagging order for much of the Internet in the name of protecting intellectual property rights. Moreover, the website that is the intended target of this – torrent aggregator The Pirate Bay – is immune to the United States’ laws since it does not fall under America’s jurisdiction.

If allowed to pass, SOPA/PIPA will destroy the beautiful and open Internet completely and irreversibly. In a few minutes Reddit will black out in protest. If you reside in the USA, send a letter to your local representative against passing these Bills. Do your part for retaining the Free Internet!

File Sharing is Now An Official Religion in Sweden

Sweden is pretty awesome. Not only is it the country that originated the pirate party a political party whose ideology revolves around open sharing of information between people it is also the first country to recognize file sharing as a religion and the shortcuts Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V as holy signs. The Church of Kopimism (that is what the religion is called: Kopimism) hopes that its newfound legal status may make the lawmakers think a little differently when they are outlining laws against software piracy and also promote peer-to-peer file sharing throughout the world. (Their motto is Copy and Seed)


Founded by philosophy student Isak Gerson, a self confessed pirate who religiously copies files, the Missionary Church of Kopimism wanted the believers in the sacred act of copying to not be persecuted for their beliefs. Since anyone can become a member of this Church, anyone trying to persecute you for sharing your files or receiving other files is infringing upon your democratic right to religion and religious beliefs. If you thought Gerson was a little wacky, he is but he is also extremely clever.

For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains, and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore, copying is central for the organisation and its members.

After a couple of failed attempts to legalize their religion, the kopimi (the believers of this Church) were finally registered as followers of an official religion just before Christmas. If you wish to change your religion to something that actually reflects your viewpoints look no further than here.

Big Shot Gaming Companies Drop Support for SOPA

Well it seems like the much maligned Stop Online Privacy Act has been steadily losing support as time goes by. The Internet, for all its loose frivolities and nonexistent persistent loyalties has banded together to effectively stop a Big Brother-like monitoring legal tool from ever being born. As the senate keeps debating the bill, many of the copyright-loving companies such as EA, Sony and Nintendo have been pressurized by both their fans online as well as their employees to drop support for this bill.


SOPA, along with its sister law PROTECT-IP has been at the receiving end of much criticism from the citizens of the United States. The bills, if enacted, will allow any content-owning person to order a takedown of a site that either hosts their content or even links to their content. Considering that much of the internet is based upon the linking to-and-fro of copyrighted content, this effectively curbs the freedom of the internet as we know it. Moreover, if the content owner so wishes, he or she may order the IP address of the infringing site to be blacklisted, rendering the site inaccessible. The kind of horror this can inflict upon aggregation sites such as Reddit is unfathomable.

We just have to hope that big wigs like Nintendo, Sony and EA keep dropping their support and that this bill is never passed.