Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Lamar Smith defends SOPA online, says he debunks the "myths"

For what it’s worth, Lamar Smith, sponsor of SOPA, ran a LTE to The Washington Times, defining SOPA, responding to TWC’s earlier editorial Dec 29, here.  He claims there are court protections and that only foreign sites can be shut down.   He claims that “foreign” rogue sites are beyond the reach of current laws, including FMCA and (current Homeland Security ICE actions which have been reported).   He also says there is an improvement with a new “Manager’s Amendment”. He has a similar letter on the blogs at “The Hill” here

The first comment following the Blog entry (by 130IQMAN on 12/14), though, says “YouTube, Vimeo and other such sites will be completely shut down”.   The comment also says “the bill will kill ANY site with content on it that is not owned by them, fair use be damned”.

Does piracy really cost jobs the way the media industries say?  Probably most people who could afford to pay for content do buy a reasonable volume of original material from regular retail operations (like Amazon); much of the illegal activity (such as selling pirated DVD’s on subways, which I have seen happen) probably goes to consumers who would buy nothing.  Patry’s analysis, in the new book I reviewed yesterday, suggests that media needs to try to sell material in smaller increments (such as wih iTunes) and offer greater variety, rather than the same “cash cow” recycled stuff (such as movie sequels).

I also don't think the scope of the potential "blacklist" is just foreign sites, and there would be considerable difficulty in maintaining that limitation. The New York Times has previously suggested stricter limits to make sure the sanctions occur overseas only. 

Smith also supplies an “issues page” with many links, such as one to an author Karen Raney, who writes “Digital thieves are stealing from me”, claims she is not rich and that her royalties have gone steadily down.  There is a link to a “Fact Sheet” which is subtitled “responding to myths”.  It should be noted that the “Fact Sheet” affirms that the bill would penalized frivolous claims or those made in bad faith.

The Pro-SOPA side has at least had its say.  What about the “Detention Problem”?  Congress has to be very careful in wording legislation about "unintended consequences". Or is removing competition from amateurs really "intended"?

Picture: A public library (from the old bricks-and-mortar world) in Sherperdstown, W Va. 

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