Unbowed by Protests, Lamar Smith to Move Ahead on Piracy Bill

By Gautham Nagesh and Brendan Sasso

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) vowed to push forward with his controversial anti-piracy bill on Tuesday as popular websites prepared to go dark in protest.

“I am committed to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to send a bipartisan bill to the White House that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property,” Smith said in a statement.

Smith’s bill, known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), would empower the Justice Department and copyright holders to demand that search engines delete links to sites deemed to be “dedicated” to copyright infringement. Ad networks and payment processors would be prohibited from doing business with the sites.

The markup of SOPA was left unfinished in December when the House broke for the holiday recess. Since then, an online movement against the bill has gained strength, culminating Wednesday with a coordinated protest by some of the Web’s most-trafficked sites.

Wikipedia and Reddit will temporarily shut down on Wednesday and display only a message criticizing SOPA. Thousands of smaller websites have also promised to participate.

Google will post a banner opposing the bill, but won’t block access to the search engine.

Smith dismissed Wikipedia’s blackout as a “publicity stunt” and said his committee would continue the markup of SOPA in February.

“It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act,” Smith said in a statement on Tuesday. “The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy.”

The fight over online piracy legislation is also raging in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has promised to bring the Senate version of SOPA, the Protect IP Act, to a vote next Tuesday.

The increasingly contentious fight over piracy legislation has pitted Hollywood and Silicon Valley against each other.

Movie studios, record labels and business groups say legislation is needed to curb online copyright infringement, which is hurting businesses and eliminating jobs.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), one of the leading supporters of piracy legislation, echoed Smith, attacking the protests as “stunts” aimed at turning Web users into “corporate pawns.”

“A so-called ‘blackout’ is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals,” MPAA chairman and former Sen. Chris Dodd said in a statement. “It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this ‘blackout’ to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”

But consumer groups and Web companies warn the bills would stifle innovation and censor free speech. They say the legislation would impose an unreasonable burden on websites to police user-generated content and could lead to legitimate websites getting shut down.

The White House also has expressed concern about the potential of piracy legislation to restrict the openness of the 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 president’s advisers wrote in a statement on Saturday.

President Obama “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

Smith is adamant that SOPA passes that test.

“This bill will not censor the Internet,” he said in Tuesday’s statement. “But it will protect American workers, inventors and job creators from foreign thieves who steal our products, technology and intellectual property.”

In a major concession to the bill’s critics, Smith on Friday dropped a controversial provision that would have required Internet service providers to block infringing websites through a process known as Domain Name System filtering. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the sponsor of the Senate bill, has also said he is willing to re-examine the provision.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt has compared the site-blocking provision to how China censors political speech online. A Senate Democratic aide expressed confidence that altering the provision would appease the bill’s critics in the upper chamber.

But the concession seems to have done little to sway the bill’s opponents. The Net Coalition, which represents major Web companies including Google, Amazon, Yahoo and eBay, launched a radio and print advertising campaign in eight states on Tuesday to combat the legislation. The ads will target states with competitive congressional races and with members who could play a key role in the legislation’s passage.

Outspoken Protect IP critic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told The Hill that even with the changes, the bills pose “clear threats to innovation, economic growth and free speech.”

“Over the past several days, the leading proponents of both PIPA and SOPA have accepted that these proposals contain substantial flaws that require a reconsideration of some of their central elements,” Wyden said.

“For the Senate to consider PIPA next week would be premature and even beyond, it would do great damage to the prospect of achieving an enduring and real agreement that combats copyright infringement without doing lasting harm to the Internet.”

Wyden has steadfastly opposed Protect IP and its predecessor, the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, for the past year and a half, and has renewed his pledge to filibuster the bill if Reid brings it to the floor.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), also a critic of the legislation, says House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the chamber would not vote on SOPA unless it has a consensus.

“While I remain concerned about Senate action on the Protect IP Act, I am confident that flawed legislation will not be taken up by this House,” Issa said in a statement early Saturday morning.

Smith did not mention Issa’s claims in his statement announcing the February markup, and Cantor’s office did not respond to requests for comment about a commitment to Issa.


  1. Yes sure ban most of the internet you dont only make Americans mad but you make the rest of the world even more mad at us…..really like stealing their oil isnt bad enough now your taking away the rights of the human race? You have a major God complex sir, and you really need to think about the good of the many and not the good of your pocket book!!

  2. Observant people will see something interesting in this situation. As the morals of the general public decline, other elements in society step in to try to curb the wrongdoing through force (legislation) thereby diminishing the freedoms that everyone enjoys. The solution: a return of moral behavior to the general public. A completely moral citizenry needs very few laws on the books.

    We have discussed this situation with our teenagers, and I discovered that the songs for a CD that one son made for me came from a site with “shared” or “free” songs. He wasn’t thinking about the issues of intellectual property. We will correct the situation by going to Rhapsody and buying the songs, and not downloading “free” songs anymore. Our whole family has agreed to this.

    We hope other Americans join us in doing what we can to return our society to higher moral standards.

  3. From Texas – guess you are NOT looking to be re-elected. The movie companies, record labels, ect . . don’t look like they are in danger of going broke to me –

    All those entertainment companies musicians and such don;t have thing one to do with my employment so please do NOT insult my intelligence by acting as if they do . ..

    Claiming these bills would not be a form of censorship means you much speak another language than I do because here in Texas most folks define censorship as government agencies dictating to the public what can and can not be communicated.

    These acts are NOT in line with smaller government intervention in the private sector – These bills are the new age equivalent of letting the justice department dictate what private citizens discuss over the telephone

    I was saddened to see that a Texan was behind this bills introduction – Today I lost a bit of faith in the republican party.

  4. Considering the wave of anti-rights bills spewing from the washington wasteland for awhile now, citizens beware! What the hell is triggering this insanity? At this rate we’ve just about hit 3rd world status. All things aside, in this case these bills are being lobbied for by the likes of a dirtbag like chris dodd, who snuck out of congress before his colleagues grew a set to impeach him for sicing the banks on us. Dirty laws like this must not only be turned back, but the likes of smith must be turned out, and dirtbag dodd must not get another dime at our expense.

  5. I thought you all might like to see this. All is not lost.

    On Wednesday, many popular websites like Google and Wikipedia staged a protest in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate companion, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Headlines and widespread action against the bills followed.

    But an influential person in the debate sent me this email, “the key driving factor in Republicans peeling off the bill yesterday was your scoring the vote.”

    >> See the results we achieved in the fight against SOPA and PIPA.

    Released on Tuesday, our key vote alert against the bills outlined to Members of Congress that conservatives need to get off both bills, period.

    The next day, five Republican Senators—Marco Rubio (FL), Roy Blunt (MO), John Boozman (AR), Orrin Hatch (UT), and David Vitter (LA)—announced that they would no longer cosponsor PIPA. Additionally, Representatives Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Lee Terry (R-NE) removed their names from SOPA. Even SOPA’s House sponsor, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) now says, “it’s time to scrap the bill and start over.”

    It’s incredibly rare for sponsors of legislation to change their minds. While Google, Wikipedia, and many others brought this issue into the view of most Americans, our principled support of freedom was a “key driving factor” in producing action on Capitol Hill.

    >> Click here: See how Heritage Action helped build opposition for SOPA and PIPA.

    Because committed conservatives like you stand with us, Members of Congress get the message. Bringing down a bill that would harm the internet, limit free speech and restrict innovation, is a great way to kick off the New Year.

  6. Hey folks, name calling doesn’t get the job done. I am not defending this bill because I, too, think there is danger in it. Lamar Smith has done some good as a representative, but you may be correct that this is a poor bill. Very often, well intentioned legislation has the opposite of its intended purpose.

    I have not read the bill, but one of the things that seems to be wrong with it is that it holds people (websites, etc) accountable for the wrongful actions of others. If this is true, then it needs to be scrapped.

    If you have read it, why not post the portions of the bill that are objectionable and then we can all make informed decisions as well as informed criticisms.

  7. Yes ban most of the internet you dont only make Americans mad but you make the rest of the world even more mad at us…..really like stealing their oil isnt bad enough now your taking away the rights of the human race? You have a major God complex sir, and you really need to think about the good of the many and not the good of your pocket book!!

  8. The entertainment industry consists only a small portion of the American GDP.

    The internet on the other hand represents America’s chance for growth to exit debt.

    Lamar is shooting America in the back with this act.

  9. Jesus this man is thick. You are trying to stop a VERY large part of the internet. Along with giving cooperation’s the power to essentially destroy any website copy written content is placed on against the will of the domain holders.

  10. This SOPA thing is just so dumb and unnecessary. He thinks he can just make these decisions when nobody even wants them! I mean, what’s the point? This is NOT what he was elected for, and he needs to understand that. Does he WANT to let the whole country down? ‘Cause it sure looks like it. “It will protect American workers, inventors and job creators”? What? We’re not stupid Lamar, we know that’s just a big lie, and NO, that statement will NOT make us come crawling to your side. We know that you aren’t backing down. Well, guess what, we’re not either. We are America, and we fight for what’s right!


  11. Save American jobs? Ha, you mean so help keep the rich people rich and to break down our creativity, expression and turn us all into mindless consumers who just consume but don’t produce.


  12. Lamar- you should be cited in Wikipedia’s entry on IDIOTS.
    Only Texans would elect such a dunce.
    Please Texas, revolt, and separate yourself from the Union.

  13. So the Justice Department that just seized the domain names,and raided one of the worlds largest websites under “Current” law needs more power?

    Megaupload had 50 million daily visitors, accounting for 4% of total internet traffic and with no due process or warning they were censored and taken off the web. Just like that!

    What are Wikipedia and Google supposed to think about that? Sounds to me like they can and very well might be censored under current law.

    Lamar Smith should be run out of office like the liberty hating RINO he is, and so too should all the establishment Republicans and Democrats that think they can push the federal government into every sector of American … and Global life.

    Eric Cantor and the house leadership should strip him of his committee chairmanship immediately.

  14. this is honestly so dumb i hope this mans politcal career is over after this, and he never gets voted back in. He isnt looking out for what the people there for isnt doing his job.

  15. Just because he’s now rich and powerful, he decided to make all the other folks have a worse life and ensure they will remain poor? I swear his family will be in trouble with the law with his stupid SOPA and I hope DJ Schulte will sue this clown for all his worth!!

  16. It’s A-hole Republicans like him that give the entire GOP a bad name! He is basically telling the people (for whom he works for) to F-off, that he will do what he wants, when he wants. Well Mr. Smith, you are an ELECTED official, and you can be replaced. Who cares that your coffers got fat with the money for the movie and music industry.
    He even violated his own bill by posting a picture on his website that was found that the office of Rep. Smith had illegally used the photograph from artist DJ Schulte as a background, without proper citation (and hence without permission).

  17. I wonder how much the MPAA is paying him (and Patrick Leahy for that matter). Whether or not PIPA/SOPA gets passed, I sincerely hope the American people do not these deceitful people. I mean seriously! Are we living in Iran or America? The lines are starting to get blurred.

  18. “Everything faded into mist. The past was erased, the erasure was forgotten, the lie became truth.” “‘ Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'” George Orwell, 1984

  19. A hearty welcome to all you newbies! I hope you stick around and aren’t just passing through. I’ve never seen any of you post here before. How many of you are Democrats seizing an opportunity to blast a Republicrat (I use that term because the rulers of the Republican party are moderates and liberals just like the Dem’s) because he is on the wrong side of an issue? Rest assured, we expose unprincipled men (and women) from both sides of the aisle when they deviate from constitutional law and don’t represent their constituents.

  20. If you are in his district, can you please vote him out this fall, or, if he has an opponent in the primary, switch out this liberal for a true conservative that supports liberty?

  21. Any congressman that signs this bill has effectively committed political suicide. Their chances of reelection at that point: 0%

  22. I can’t believe that the right to knowledge and education of America’s future is even being disputed! How can Committee Chairman Lamar Smith be willing to put our youth at such a disadvantage to the youth of other countries by limiting the information accessible on the internet? The internet is like a vault of information readily accessible to anybody. STOP Lamar Smith from harming the intellectual future of America!

  23. Lamar seems to have forgotten the grade school lesson that two wrongs don’t make a right. Just because there are bad people out there stealing software and music doesn’t mean we should give the government the power to censor the internet. What ever happened to the Republican platform “get government off our backs!”

    Apple became the richest company in the world because they know that people will pay for convenience. Hollywood just needs to figure out that if they make it easier for people to pay for what they want people will pay not pirate.

  24. This might actually work in our favor. If Smith refuses to change the bill, and submits it to Congress as is, it’s probably more likely to die! Just think: if he backed off and made a few small revisions, he might fool other representatives into letting their guard down.

    Lamar Smith, hear this: if you continue to push this excremental legislation down our throats, we WILL black out the internet once again. We, the people, have just shown you that we will not stand for any motion that undermines our freedom of speech or privacy. We will not tolerate being treated like criminals. Your career as a representative has ended, and we will call, write, and demonstrate to our reps until you remain, waiting out your final term, alone and unsupported but for the bloated cronies of the MPAA.

  25. lamar is an embarrassment to our great state of Texas and it is our duty to move ahead in removing him from office as he does not represent our interests.

  26. Lamar Smith is an absolute numbskull if he thinks this will fix anything. All your doing is Stifling creativity. Check out memebase.com sometime there are millions of memes that most are the same and they were all created by one person but that one person doesnt care because he made something that others enjoy. The only person i’ve seen that supports SOPA/PIPA is a 6 year old that doesnt even know how to turn on a computer. If you really think this will work Lamar youve got another thing coming.

  27. its not about the entertainment industry……….that’s just a scape goat……..the real reason is the desire for more control. Lamar , think about what you are doing besides making an ass of yourself. If someone downloads a movie for personal use, they are not profiting from it. They are not selling it they are simply watching it at home. Go after some real criminals instead of treating citizens as criminals. Besides, your own website has copyright infringement…..looks like you stepped on your own dick on that one partner!

  28. It is a mistake to regard people like him as idiots. They know exactly what they’re doing, and they do it anyway. The question is why, and the answer is NOT that they’re idiots.

  29. This bill does not create jobs. Even if it did, the number of people who would lose a source of income or their full job if SOPA/PIPA were to pass would be overwhelming compared to those created. I know that I would be considered felon under SOPA, and I really do not know anyone under thirty who would not be considered one as well. This bill is not about piracy, as groups who really wish to pirate can do things relativity easy to get past the censors to continue to pirate if they wish. The fact that the American public so openly and almost universally opposes the bill before being passed, the fact that so many websites that would be eliminated or could be eliminated without due process participated in the blackout should have showed it to be a bad bill. Really if this does not pass, how bad is it for the entertainment industry? They will still exist as they always have the only real bad thing I could see is people trying to boycott those groups because of their support of SOPA/PIPA. Sure, people will still pirate material, but this will still happen under SOPA/PIPA. Compare the potential ill effects on the internet if it does pass. It should be obvious who has more to lose.

  30. Maybe our congress could legislate some laws which prevent real jobs for real people being shipped overseas to save a few dollars, and leave what works alone.

  31. The American public is opposed to SOPA / PIPA – and the legislation endangers the very infrastructure of the Internet. Many supporters of the bill have backed away after learning how dangerous it is, yet Lamar Smith persists. Why? Because he has a vested interest – he works for Big Media – they give him money. Smith is nothing more than a paid shill for the entertainment industry and he could care less about those constituents he supposedly represents. Talk about a conflict of interest. Sheesh.

    John Barremore
    Houston, TX

  32. One more example of elected officials doing everything but their job. Balance the Budget. Reign in the totalitarian urges of the Executive Branch. Congress should not be a career and Congress members should not be allowed to take campaign funds from anyone who is not a constituent. Time to come home and earn an honest living, Lamar.

  33. Why am I not surprised at what a stubborn idiot this man is, and all politicians that support these bills? They are out of touch with the world around them and the people who voted them into office. They want to see the United States become a police state so that they can censor us even more and keep us in our place. So our taxes are to keep us dumb, sick (no public health insurance), and stagnant, unable to express ourselves freely without the fear of being thrown in prison for it? When did I move to a 3rd world communist country?

  34. I can’t believe how persistent this guy is. “that saves American jobs and protects intellectual property,” How can he lie to all of us like that.

  35. Two of his staffers received high paying jobs with lobbyists after writing this legislation, and he has received nearly a million in campaign contributions from lobbyists too support this. With all that money on offer I guess the rewards of working for the American people look pretty shabby in comparison.

  36. Wow what a douchebag, He is committed to continuing to work with his colleagues in the houses….not for the people who put him in office….typical.

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