House Judiciary Committee Denies That Its SOPA Hearing Is Stacked In Any Way

from the beltway-delusions dept

We've already discussed how the deck is completely stacked in favor of SOPA at the House Judiciary Committee meetings. Considering they invited five folks who are already in favor of the bill, and only one against, you'd think that this was undeniable. But in the intellectually dishonest vortex of Congress, where apparently you can deny reality and stick your tongue out at anyone who calls you on it, a nameless Judiciary Committee staffer has insisted that nothing could be further from the truth, and the hearings are perfectly well balanced.
“Throughout the legislative process, we have met with groups and companies with different views on how to address rogue websites. Earlier this year, the Committee held a hearing on the problem of rogue websites at which the public interest group perspective was represented by the Center for Democracy and Technology. We also heard from Floyd Abrams—a well-known constitutional scholar—who affirmed that the Stop Online Piracy Act is constitutional under the first amendment and provides sufficient due process. And tomorrow, we will hear from a representative of Google, which opposes legislative efforts to rein in rogue websites. Assertions that the legislative process has been stacked against the opposition are inconsistent with the facts.

“This bill has strong bipartisan support in the House Judiciary Committee. The theft of America’s IP costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. We must protect America’s intellectual property from rogue websites. The Stop Online Piracy Act helps stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites and ensures that the profits from American innovations go to American innovators.”
Very little in that statement is true or accurate. First of all, Floyd Abrams is hardly a representative of the public -- as his outreach was on behalf of the MPAA. And, at the same time over 100 law professors, practitioners and scholars -- including many of the brightest names in the field -- have written a letter disagreeing with Abrams (and they did so on their own behalfs, not for a client). It's really incredibly sleazy for the committee to suggest that Abrams' testimony here is somehow part of the other side's views.

Separately, as we explained, Google is hardly the only voice speaking out against this bill, and putting them on the panel is the most cynical of moves by the committee. After all, they've been trying to pretend that only Google is upset about this bill, so putting Google as the sole "against" speaker, makes them easier to marginalize. Even worse, while it appears that Google shares some of the concerns of others lined up against this bill, its concerns are fairly specific to Google. It's unlikely to address the concerns of tons of other technology companies, content creators, innovators and the like. And, on top of that, there are no consumer, public or human rights organizations at the hearing.

This is the most insane part of all. Remember, copyright's sole purpose is to benefit the public. To have no one representing the public is the ultimate travesty, and the ultimate insult to the very core of copyright law.

Only inside the beltway does "bipartisan" matter. And, for what it's worth, the bill also has strong bipartisan opposition as well. This isn't a partisan issue. Whether it has bipartisan support or opposition only matters in the board games in the minds of Congressional staffers who think this is a game of red vs. blue, rather than mucking with the actual economy.

Finally, as for "the theft of America’s IP costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs" that's bullshit again. First of all, it's infringement, not "theft." That the "House Judiciary Committee" gets this basic terminology wrong again shows how they're insulting copyright law. Second, the $100 billion number has been debunked so many times -- including by the Government Accountability Office -- that it's really shameful to even bring that number up, and shows that the depths of intellectual dishonesty going on here. They'll cite any debunked number to prove a point.

Let's face facts: the Judiciary Committee is simply too afraid to hear from those who oppose the bill, because we have the facts, the public and the law on our side. And when you're trying to ram through a bad bill, Congress has no time for anything like that. So it sticks its head in the sand and pretends that's the way the world really is.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    Think about the children! What will they watch if you can't pirate stuff?


    THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN!

     

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    AJBarnes, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:00am

    Well trained

    Congress has been well trained by their owners, the large money donors. Why talk to John Q Public who doesn't donate? When in doubt, follow the money...

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:10am

    The bill will go through
    It will be rubbish
    A new stronger bill is needed
    Congress gets its money
    The bill will go through
    Repeat

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:14am

    What are the odds that, if this bill passes, Obama vetoes it?

     

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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:15am

    Complete skew

    Even the committee's statement shows that they have already dismissed Google's upcoming arguments. Check out the wording used:

    And tomorrow, we will hear from a representative of Google, which opposes legislative efforts to rein in rogue websites.

    Google opposes reining in rogue websites.

    So, we already know what the committee thinks about Google's stance without Google even having to present its case. In their view, Google is "pro-rogue site" and therefore, will be humored along with the rest of the "pro-rogue site" tech community.

     

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    Prisoner 201, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:17am

    "The public"? What is this?

    Oh you mean the plebs. It's ok, they dont have souls.

     

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    Dr Evil, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:18am

    the actual cost

    Finally, as for "the theft of America’s IP costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs"


    Guys, cummon... infringement costs the U.S. economy 100 billion trillion dollars annually, and most of that was earmarked for the children. Have you no compassion?

    Why would Obama veto something that will create hundreds, thousands, millions of jobs
    (for attorneys)? (oops, said Obama and jobs in same sentence, M U S T drink.......)

    maybe we can throw a T.A.R.P. over this one too?

     

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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:20am

    What does it mean?

    Can I get one of those 1,000 jobs that apparently pays 100 million dollars a year?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:36am

      Re: What does it mean?

      I'd be happy if I could split one of those jobs with 100 friends. I'm not greedy.

       

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        The eejit (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 7:53am

        Re: Re: What does it mean?

        I'd be willing to run the RIAA for less than a quarter of what the current CEO is. I mean, I can lie with a straight face, and I recently upgraded my paradox crumple zones and everything!

         

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    Beech, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:34am

    The scariest part.

    The scariest part of this whole ordeal is that even if this bill gets voted down it will just get reintroduced over and over year after year in slightly different forms until it gets passed.

     

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    gorehound (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:35am

    This krap is so disgusting.Revolution will be in the air and discontent.This government will get a big surprise.You can only push /americans so far and no Americans will love the Police State Censored Country.I will await the day to see those traitors in office tarred & feathered just like the old days.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:42am

      Re:

      Revolution will be in the air...


      Revolution may be “in the air”, as you put it. But as far as your soi-disant representatives are concerned, the campaign contributions are in the bank.

      Revolution in the air. Money in the bank.

       

      That's a very, very difficult choice, isn't it?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 1:03pm

      Re:

      This krap is so disgusting.Revolution will be in the air and discontent.This government will get a big surprise.You can only push /americans so far and no Americans will love the Police State Censored Country.I will await the day to see those traitors in office tarred & feathered just like the old days.

      You won't do shit, except to continue to be a burned out, failed musician railing against the world from inside the Techdirt echo chamber.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:39am

    The needs of the 1 outweigh the needs of the 99.

    Get over it.

    ps. this is sarcasm

     

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    MrWilson, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:40am

    Bipartisan support means the entertainment industry made "campaign donations" on both sides of the aisle.

     

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    Jon Alessi (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:55am

    Live Stream of the Hearing

    Does anyone have a link to any live feeds of the hearing? I've been looking all over the house.gov and cspan pages and cannot locate a feed.

     

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    Josef Anvil (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 6:57am

    Really?????

    "Remember, copyright's sole purpose is to benefit the public."

    I'm so sick of hearing this. Copyright's sole purpose is to create a monopoly for the content creator. We have simply reached a point where the system and technology are clashing.

     

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      A Monkey with Atitude, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 9:38am

      Re: Really?????

      cause Mikes words where not directly from the Constitution, and your version was straight from RIAA's Ass...

       

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    Psyga Sanichigo, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 7:00am

    Bullshit.

    Congress, what you say may sound like poetry to you, but to everybody else it sounded like just what it is:

    BULLSHIT!

     

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    anonymous, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 7:13am

    more important to get the Bill through than anything else and those in favour will use any method or way to achieve that. it's not whether the Bill is good or not; it's not whether it will achieve the goal or not; it's not whether there will be damage to otheres or not; as far as all those concerned with getting the Bill through is concerned, IT'S THE WINNING! being able to say 'MY BILL GOT PASSED!'

     

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    Bengie, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 7:58am

    Two options

    They are:
    1) Corrupt, and getting paid by the MAFFIA(or similar)
    or
    2) Gullible idiots

    There really isn't room for other options.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 8:00am

    Anymore I'm thinking we should encourage Congress to pass SOPA, and then encourage them to give the MAFIAA everything they want. The only way things are going to change is if they get much worse than they already are. Only then will people start figuring out who's really in control and start demanding change for the better.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 8:19am

    The vagarities of interpretation

    Mike, when you say that "To have no one representing the public is the ultimate travesty ..." I agree 100%. However I am beginning to think that what you are saying and what the US government believes is quite different.

    Those in the US government believe that, because they are elected by the people, they represent the public in the majority of matters.

    It's a disturbing thought, but one that occurred to me as I was reading your article.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 8:47am

      Re: The vagarities of interpretation

      Mike keeps forgetting these things called "elections" where the public gets to say their piece and select the candidate that most fits their positions. They do represent the public, because that is the way the system operates. We do not have a 100% democratic system that allows every citizen to vote on every law and to suggest wording changed to every document, etc.

      Mike also seems to forget that not everyone in the public agrees with him, and in fact a link he had up yesterday shows that 60% or more of people surveyed want the content grifting companies to do something about the problems.

      What is important to realize is that most of the debates are made up of 1% on one side, and 1% on the other end. Sometimes a few more percentage points at one end of the other rises up, but that is about it.

      Consider OWS: Even if they managed to get 500,000 people out across the US to support them, they would still wouldn't be much more than 1/10 of 1 percent... certainly not the 99% they pretend to represent.

      Techdirt (a lobbyist site now) will give you a one sided view of things, and Mike will try hard to make you think there is a massive grassroots swell against SOPA. But the reality is very different, most people, when asked a straight question that doesn't invoke government control or the "censorship" boogieman find it very reasonable for action to be taken.

      Don't use this site as your only source, you will be mislead.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 9:11am

        Re: Re: The vagarities of interpretation

        Misled into thinking that organizations like the MPAA and the RIAA are incapable of living in the future?

         

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        Kyle Zolnierz (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 9:12am

        Re: Re: The vagarities of interpretation

        Mike keeps forgetting these things called "elections" where the public gets to say their piece and select the candidate that most fits their positions. They do represent the public, because that is the way the system operates. We do not have a 100% democratic system that allows every citizen to vote on every law and to suggest wording changed to every document, etc.

        And heres another example of a major hole in our election system. You really think that by electing politician X people are making their opinions heard on an issue like copyright and SOPA? The election outcomes are determined on issues that cover sweeping generalities and burning issues at the time of the election. Just because i agree with politician Y on abortion does NOT mean i agree on SOPA. And since its a low profile issue publically I am unlikely to ever know the candidates stance on this issue until its too late.

        Mike also seems to forget that not everyone in the public agrees with him, and in fact a link he had up yesterday shows that 60% or more of people surveyed want the content grifting companies to do something about the problems.

        Could you be any more blatantly dishonest? The piece, clear as day, said the majority oppose SOPA specifically. The service providers already DO do something within reason about the "problems", and thats by complying with the current DMCA provisions.

        What is important to realize is that most of the debates are made up of 1% on one side, and 1% on the other end. Sometimes a few more percentage points at one end of the other rises up, but that is about it.

        Consider OWS: Even if they managed to get 500,000 people out across the US to support them, they would still wouldn't be much more than 1/10 of 1 percent... certainly not the 99% they pretend to represent.


        You seem to not know what the word represent means. Either way, this is irrelevant to the subject and just a diversion.

        Techdirt (a lobbyist site now) will give you a one sided view of things, and Mike will try hard to make you think there is a massive grassroots swell against SOPA. But the reality is very different, most people, when asked a straight question that doesn't invoke government control or the "censorship" boogieman find it very reasonable for action to be taken.


        The lobbyist site moniker is getting played out. If you are going to continue to throw that out there can you provide some substance? Otherwise it just discredits everything else you say. Its irrelevant any way, and makes you afraid of debating the real points Mike makes.

        Don't use this site as your only source, you will be mislead.

        Links please?

         

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        Samuel Abram (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 10:58am

        Re: Re: The vagarities of interpretation

        Did you get these stats from the polling firm of OOMA (Out-Of-My-Ass)?

         

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        btrussell (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 3:44pm

        Re: Re: The vagarities of interpretation

        I take it you aren't going to supply any links to educate us?

         

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    Kyle Zolnierz (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 8:59am

    Hilarious that they are using terms like bipartisan as a way to spin this as something that is being done properly. They're smart enough to know that the partisan BS in politics is aggravating everyone, so throwing out the buzz word makes people feel good about the topic even when its irrelevant to the matter at hand

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    I honestly don't know what you are sniveling about Masnick. The witness representing Google, Yahoo, Net Coalition, Yahoo, CEA, Linkedin, etc had more time to talk than all of the other witnesses combined. So all of these anti-SOPA organizations were represented and got more than half of time to speak and answer questions. And for accuracy's sake, if she is to be believed- there were no witnesses that oppose this bill. The Google/Net Coalition contingent was very careful to say that they support legislation, albeit without DNS blocking.

     

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      btrussell (profile), Nov 16th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

      Re:

      "The Google/Net Coalition contingent was very careful to say that they support legislation, albeit without DNS blocking."

      RTFA

       

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      DC, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 5:22pm

      Re:

      So 1 representative representing all of those interests? 1? Except he/she was only representing Google. As opposed to the hoard from the content industry at the same table.

      And Linkedin is such a huge violoator of capyright?

      Funny how you put Yahoo in there twice asshat.

      Sniveling? seems like that's your approach. And your condecension shows where you are coming from.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 16th, 2011 @ 9:09pm

    Why would a member of the House Judiciary Committee need to be nameless? Are they that concerned about backlash?

     

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