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HYPOCRITICAL ASSHAT: Texas congressman Lamar Smith (author of SOPA) is copyright violator of the worst kind…

“I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that you have provided that the image was attributed to the source (me). So my conclusion would be that Lamar Smith’s organization did improperly use my image. So according to the SOPA bill, should it pass, maybe I could petition the court to take action against www.texansforlamarsmith.com.”

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Pro-Internet billboards pop up near SOPA author’s TX offices

Anti-censorship organization Fight For The Future announced today that two billboards went up in San Antonio and Austin, Texas that patriotically shout a simple warning: “Don’t mess with the Internet.”

The announcement from FFTF:

SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith came close to destroying the Internet we love (it took the largest online protest in history to stop him). So we thought it would be awesome if the internet sent Lamar a message, in the form of a billboard right outside his Texas office.

Your donations funded *two* billboards in less than two days, which ruled.

The signs are going up in congressman Lamar Smith’s Republican district (we’ve reported at Hammer of Truth as the much-despised author of the SOPA legislation). The SOPA legislative effort may have failed spectacularly, but these visual shots of discontent are still being fired in Smith’s direction with two signs near two different district campaign offices.

Smith and others who wish to follow in the internet censoring footsteps are clearly going to have their hands full trying to get re-elected if these public shaming issue campaigns can so easily flex their muscles. They’re certainly more more agile than a traditional candidate campaign.

On the downside here, they really ought to have put Lamar Smith’s name on the billboard since they aren’t exactly across the street from his offices. They did offer this semi-disclaimer on the placement:

(The first is as close to his San Antonio office as we could get: Loop 410, 500 ft. east of Nacogdoches. And the second is on Lamar Blvd. in Austin between 12th St and 15th St –his Austin office doesn’t have any billboards nearby.)

The billboard jingo is certain to leave an impression on Internet-loving Texans nonetheless.

In the future we’re fighting for, I hope to see them take this to a nationwide campaign. Instead of a Texan these though, I suggest turning the Gadsden flag snake into an ethernet cable bundle snake and the words “Don’t tread on the Internet.” That’s a billboard banner the Internet’s TCP/IP Party could get behind in internet censorship friendly congressional districts across the land.

UPDATE: I should have known some artist already thought of this. Go figure.

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Congress Shelves (But Does Not Kill) SOPA and PIPA

Mass action on January 18, 2012 won a small victory for opponents of the internet censorship bills SOPA and PIPA. Many websites “blacked out” in protest and asked visitors to sign an online petition. Google reports that 4.5 million people added their name to an online petition to Congress to oppose internet censorship. Possibly in response to these actions, Lamar Smith, the main sponsor of SOPA, announced on Friday that he would delay further action on the bill. The Washington Post reports, “The action by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) on the Stop Online Piracy Act came a couple of hours after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said that he would delay a cloture vote on a similar Senate bill, the Protect IP (Intellectual Property) Act.”

Neither Reid nor Smith said that they would not attempt to add the text of SOPA or PIPA into another piece of legislation with a better chance of passing. In fact, it is not unusual for Congress to combine unpopular proposals to legislation that is almost guaranteed to pass. DownsizeDC reports, “The REAL ID Act is a perfect example of how Congressional leaders pass laws that lack majority support. This bill created a scheme Americans have always opposed — a national ID card. This idea had so little support that it couldn’t even be brought to a vote in the Senate. Yet , Congressional leaders got it passed anyway, by attaching it to a bill Senators were afraid to oppose — the ‘Emergency, Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief.’ (May, 2005)” In similar fashion, a provision to ban online gambling was added into a port security bill.

Voters could lobby their so called “Representatives” on every piece of legislation. However, since Congress doesn’t have time to read bills before voting – and sometimes before debate; voters certainly don’t have time to read the bills AND lobby Congress. However, there is an easier way to get Congress to 1) know what they’re voting for (or against); 2) not combine multiple pieces of legislation; and 3) no longer hide the true subjects of their bills behind propagandistic titles such as the “USA PATRIOT Act,” the “Protect America Act,” or the “No Child Left Behind Act.”

I urge you to contact your Congressional representatives asking, nay demanding, they introduce and pass the bills of the DownsizeDC Agenda. The DownsizeDC Agenda consists of the Read the Bills Act, One Subject at a Time Act, Write the Laws Act, Enumerated Powers Act, Free Competition in Currency Act and proposals to have Congress “Cap the Debt” and Fight Deficit Spending.


Obama to Veto SOPA?

Huffington Post reports a small victory against SOPA (H.R. 3261 “Stop Online Piracy Act”) and it’s counterpart in the Senate, PIPA (“Protect IP Act”), claiming that President Obama will not support the current legislation. A statement released on behalf of the Obama Administration states, “… we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet. Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.”

The statement issued by Victoria Espinel, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator at Office of Management and Budget, Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer, and Howard Schmidt, Special Assistant to the President and Cybersecurity Coordinator for National Security Staff further states, “We expect and encourage all private parties, including both content creators and Internet platform providers working together, to adopt voluntary measures and best practices to reduce online piracy.”

Some people may interpret this statement by the White House as a sign that Obama will veto SOPA or PIPA if either passes. However, I’m not that optimistic.

Huffington Post further reports “Moving forward, we will continue to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis on legislation that provides new tools needed in the global fight against piracy and counterfeiting, while vigorously defending an open Internet based on the values of free expression, privacy, security and innovation,” the letter also read. SOPA sponsor and House Judiciary Chairman (R-Texas) Lamar Smith issued a statement of his own, “I welcome today’s announcement that the White House will support legislation to combat online piracy that protects free speech, the Internet and America’s intellectual property. That’s precisely what the Stop Online Piracy Act does.”

I previously wrote about SOPA, citing that it could be interpreted to blacklist sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Flickr and many more. Since then, the bill has been amended to include “immunity” for sites that voluntarily censor themselves, which means it will be harder to share information online. I do not believe for one second that SOPA, PIPA or any other “anti-piracy” legislation from Congress will protect the free flow of information.