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Friday, January 13, 2012

Lamar Smith, SOPA crusader and copyright violator

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 10:02 AM

lamar-smithjpg

The interwebs are teeming with anger over Lamar Smith's authoring of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), so maybe it was only a matter of time before someone dug up reason to label the Texas GOP congressman a hypocrite. While Smith says he aims to crack down on copyright and trademark infringement with SOPA, Vice today reports that Smith is himself a copyright violator.

As Smith calls opposition to SOPA a "vocal minority" and charges ahead, Vice scoured the congressman's own webpage to make sure he's always been squeaky clean. Turns out he hasn't.

In an archived, pre-SOPA version of his site (from July, 2011) Vice found a background image with no attribution. When they tracked down photographer DJ Schulte, he said had not received requests from Smith's office or others to use the photo.

From Vice's Jamie Lee Curtis Taete:

I contacted DJ, to find out if Lamar had asked permission to use the image and he told me that he had no record of Lamar, or anyone from his organization, requesting permission to use it: "I switched my images from traditional copyright protection to be protected under the Creative Commons license a few years ago, which simply states that they can use my images as long as they attribute the image to me and do not use it for commercial purposes.

"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."

Staunch opponents, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, say SOPA would not only give the government more power to censor sites but could also freeze online innovation. As we wrote earlier this week, companies like Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Wikipedia are said to be discussing a coordinated blackout to give lawmakers a taste of what a post-SOPA internet could look like. Vice has started its own "'Shop a SOPA' Copyright Hypocrite Hunt” asking readers to help find copyright violations on the other 31 SOPA co-sponsors' websites.

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