House Judiciary Committee SOPA Hearings Stacked 5 To 1 In Favor Of Censoring The Internet

from the what-are-they-afraid-of dept

Apparently the folks behind SOPA are really scared to hear from the opposition. We all expected that the Judiciary Committee hearings wouldn’t be a fair fight. In Congress, they rarely are fair fights. But most people expected the typical “three in favor, one against” weighted hearings. That’s already childish, but it seems that the Judiciary Committee has decided to take the ridiculousness to new heights. We’d already mentioned last week that the Committee had rejected the request of NetCoalition to take part in the hearings. At the time, we’d heard that the hearings were going to be stacked four-to-one in favor of SOPA. However, the latest report coming out of the Committee is that they’re so afraid to actually hear about the real opposition that they’ve lined up five pro-SOPA speakers and only one “against.”

Why is the Judiciary Committee so afraid to hear the concerns of the wider internet industry?

The five “pro” speakers are the Register of Copryights, someone from the MPAA, someone from Pfizer, someone from MasterCard, and someone from the AFL-CIO. The choice of MasterCard is deliberate, since Visa is against the bill — because Visa recognizes that supporting a bill that requires them to cut off customers based on accusations of infringement is going to be a huge burden, and one that isn’t good for their own customers.

Furthermore, the “one” against SOPA is going to be Google. This is a strategic choice, because the pro-SOPA folks know that Google is easy to dismiss on this topic, because they’ll claim (not accurately) that Google just wants to profit from infringement. Google is already under a lot of scrutiny in Congress, and so it makes it much easier for pro-SOPA supporters to say that “ah, the only opposition is Google.” And, yet, that’s not true. Companies throughout the tech and internet industries have expressed concerns. Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla, eBay and over 160 startups have all come out against the bill. This isn’t “just a Google issue.” This is an issue of the entertainment industry trying to change the fundamental legal and technical framework for how the internet has functioned — and in doing so, creating tons of liability and compliance costs for the part of the economy that is growing and has been creating jobs. Just because Hollywood is jealous, doesn’t mean that they should get to use Congress to punish the industry that’s doing well.

Either way, it’s quite stunning that the Committee has decided to go so far in stacking the deck, and it shows just how unwilling they are to hear the real concerns about the bill.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: afl-cio, google, mastercard, mpaa, pfizer

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Comments on “House Judiciary Committee SOPA Hearings Stacked 5 To 1 In Favor Of Censoring The Internet”

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Hulser (profile) says:


Hopefully Google will realize it’s being played and react accordingly. My strategy would be to present myself as a representative of a coalition of companies, tech and non-tech, who are against SOPA. Downplay Google’s concerns and drop the names of those companies like Visa, Facebook, Twitter who oppose the bill. Whenever they ask about Google, use the standard politician’s trick of answering the question that you wish they’d asked instead of the one they actually asked. Reply with example after example of how other companies and the public would feel the negative effects of this law. Don’t let them make it about just Google.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

Past time to throw the bums out

I know that it is probably too late, and not likely to change much, but I think it is way past time to throw out ALL of the incumbents in Congress and elect independents to Congress. Both parties are terminally corrupt, and although there is nothing to say that an independent (not affiliated with any party) Member will not be or become corrupt, at least we will have cleared the decks and can, hopefully, regain our respect for the institution… 🙁

gorehound (profile) says:

Re: Past time to throw the bums out

I am going to vote INDIE all the way starting in 2012.I will not be voting for any Reps or Dems.
Nor will I feel sadness if I see them both fall.
SOPA is the act of a traitor selling out the whole Country.We will know their names and I will not feel sadness to see them all go down one way or the other.
You do not mess with basic freedoms we are entitled to living here and this bill crosses the line.There are many wack-jobs in this Country who will find some Employment coming up.

Mike42 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Past time to throw the bums out

As I’ve stated before, this only further destablizes the government. The system itself is now corrupt, regardless of who is in office. Do you remember it took Obama less than 2 weeks to resind his “no lobbyists in my administration” policy? Do you really think Obama wanted to do that? Do you really think it was because that person was the best person for the job?
No, we had 30 years of an amazingly good economy, where everyone could ignore the graft and corruption. Now that we have to tighten our belts, we are seeing the parts of the system that don’t work.
Changing the talking heads will do NOTHING to change the government, because THEY AREN’T IN CHARGE. Find and remove the parasites, and actually check to see if your congressperson is TRYING to fix things. Several of the reps voted out last term were just knee-jerk reactions.
Or, to put it another way, who trains new congresspeople? Their constituents, or lobbyists?

AJ (profile) says:

This bill is not about, nor was it ever about, piracy. It is a giant hammer that is going to be used to pound out the legitimate competition. The pirates are not following the law now,creating more laws is not going to impact them one bit.

A common argument of the shills is that they are going to make it much harder for the masses to “pirate”, that they hardcore guys won’t be impacted, but the “masses” will step back into line. Historically speaking, has this ever worked for any industry? Ever?

Most people I know listen to YouTube, Pandora, or other free legal services for music. They don’t need to pirate because what they want is already free. Why break the law if you can get it legally for free? So what happens when the AA’s use this new hammer to destroy the above mentioned free services? People go right back to pirating, that’s what… but they already know that I’m sure.

ArkieGuy (profile) says:

Lock Out

Back in the day, unions would have sit in’s and other types of civil disobedience, maybe an electronic version of something like that could happen today.

If all of the opposing tech companies shut down access to their sites for one day with a simple page explaining to ALL of their users what this will do, I bet the legislature would be HAMMERED by irate constituents complaining about unfair representation.

And yes, I know this won’t happen, but it could certainly open some eyes!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Lock Out

They’re too concerned about the profits of today to worry about the long term. This may or may not be because of the company itself. It may be because of the shareholders.

Visa would be the best one for this. Don’t process credit cards for one day. Put out a press release letting everyone know when it will be. Put a note on the front page of their website explaining why they are doing it. A lot of people would sit up and take notice if they couldn’t process their Visa card for one day. Youtube and Facebook may hurt some people a little, but showing them what the consequences could really be if they were ever on the accused end of that stick would resonate a lot better than taking away Farmville or videos of cats chasing laser pointers.

ArkieGuy (profile) says:

Re: Lock Out

Ok… So how about a less aggressive approach. What about a 30 second full page ad that shows up on all of the opposing companies web sites with instructions on how to oppose the bill.

I really think it would have been really funny if it had been done to just the constituents of the members of the judiciary committee 2 days before the hearing… 😉

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I don’t give a flying fuck if there are no indications. If the law can be used in this way, it’s a bad law (and it will be used in that way). If they aren’t going to use the law in that way, then why not re-write the law so that it can’t be used in that way? There would be no argument if they did that.

You do realize that this law will be used to shut down TechDirt right? So many people think that Mike is advocating piracy, it’s only a matter of time before someone files the paperwork. That is a violation of the first amendment.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dirty Tricks? Really?

You know, I was expecting the Government to do better, however, this fully convinced me that they’re nothing but spoiled brats.

Hopefully, Google will see this, and start calling them out for being the cheaters they are. OR use that “Google must blacklist stuff” against them and blacklist MPAA, Mastercard, and all the other supporters of the bill.

out_of_the_blue says:

No, it's still basically producers of content versus grifters.

Google, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla, eBay all RE-distribute previously existing wealth, DO NOT create it. Yes, they make “jobs”, but those jobs are similar to stealing the copper sword off Lincoln’s tomb, are “monetizing” what they can snatch into a quick buck now.

Recently Google has become MORE embedded into many file-sharing sites, requires allowing javascript to run Google captcha. While you try to inoculate it here by a mention, it’s still in practice /directly/ profiting from file-sharing.

Paul says:

Re: No, it's still basically producers of content versus grifters.

I think you are off your medicine, “Google, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla, eBay all RE-distribute previously existing wealth” they can be also categorized as service providers and service providers do not produce content so if you are against service providers please do not take that taxi cab tomorrow a taxi fare is a service o…o…o and the bus too, public transport is a service, you know what turn off your internet connection the people who give you internet they are also “RE-distribute previously existing wealth, DO NOT create it.”

Brandon says:

Re: No, it's still basically producers of content versus grifters.

Viacom and many of the other opposers to the bill were original contributers and supported a large amount of the infringing softwares. For instance, Limewire, CNet, Kazaa, and many other services all had support and investment from CNBC, ESPN, VIACOM, and many others for at least 10 years. In fact, many of the now supporters of SOPA were distributers of the software for piracy. In fact, most of these companies who distributed the software are suing people for violating copyrights and they broke many copyright laws themselves. However, they did not get prosecuted because the owners of the copyrights (also the distributors of the file sharing and infringement removal software) could not complain and sue themselves.

Thomas (profile) says:

Odds in favor..

that the people in the committee are also getting money under the table from the groups that favor censorship. I wonder how much you have to pay for a vote in a simple committee? Do they have a secret list of how much a vote costs? Can you imagine if someone stole the list and published it? It would be high treason.

Just another example that the U.S. is no longer a democracy, but a plutocracy, where the rich companies and people get (via paying) the laws passed that they want and avoid taxes.

RcCypher (profile) says:

Someone said it

I vote we let this bill pass. Not because I support it, or because I think its a good idea. I vote we let the bill pass for 2 primary reasons.

Reason 1: The minute this bill begins to effect the broader public, those individuals will stand up and start complaining, LOUDLY. That will prime a country, which is already on the verge of a revolution with the Occupy movement to even more unstable heights.

Reason 2: Because even if reason 1 doesn’t work. We can almost certainly have this bill stricken down by the Supreme court, as the bill OBVIOUSLY infringes on our first amendment rights, rights which the politicians CANNOT LEGISLATE AWAY.

Failing those two reasosn showing some degree of success, I will frankly grab my shit and move out. I’m tired of all the corruption and ignorance from the so called politicians on capital hill. They have no idea what they are doing when the propose legislation like this, and the fact that they won’t even speak to industry experts on even the technical feasability of what they propose, is flatly astonishing!

RevCharlie (profile) says:


So, this is how it begins, not with cannons roar, but with the sound of crumpling paper and a few signatures. I don?t advocate theft, or piracy, or cloning, or archiving protected information, but I am against the foothold this provides these infiltrators into what will become ?Big Brothers? playground. Next is censorship of questionable material (of course the definition is fluid) then questionable content (subjected to the same fluidity) and who knows what?s next. Like television, this will be advertiser?s central (too late) and the vehicle through which we will all be indoctrinated and assimilated.

Give them what they want, they?ll get it eventually, legally or otherwise.

Anonymous Coward says:


there is no indication that this is going to happen, except from a few chicken littles like Mike who seem convinced that the sky is falling.

Not a fan of history, are you? Anyone that is given power eventually abuses it, and in this case the people getting the power are /paying/ for it, so it’s a guarantee that it will be abused.

IanM (profile) says:

Let it pass.


Every time an ISP or carrier is forced to blacklist a site, they should blacklist both the site (complying with the law), and the requestor’s site too (in the case of the RIAA and the MPAA, they could blacklist both that site, and a randomly chosen member of the association) – ‘We decline to transport your data’.

A bit of cooperation between say VISA and Google could have a similar effect for payments too – you block via VISA, Google declines to include your site in its search spider, and therefore its search results. You block via Google, Google declines to include you in its search spider.

I wonder how long this nonsense would last if someone like Sony or Viacom got wiped off the UK or US Internet landscape for a few weeks.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Sure, just one small step

and the line is crossed. This law is based in part on fears that the DMCA isn’t working.
Time to be tougher. Take down entire domains, entire sites.

Let the Internet die-because they’re against it-the stupid people who think that a few select interests should run the world.

When it does die, and everyone goes away, then MPAA an RIAA will have nobody else to go after or blame for their problems.

See, fixed that problem!

George Ziemann (user link) says:

A simple solution

If you don’t like what the MPAA is doing, don’t go to any movies or rent any DVD’s from any of their member companies.

Sorry, that doesn’t work. Look at how record sales dropped dramatically when they started suing people and have never returned. All this did was convince them that “piracy” was worse than ever. The entertainment community is not cognizant of “cause and effect” logic. If they aren’t selling what they used to, it must be piracy.

John Doe says:

Why this will never pass...

DNS Engineers PDF

A bunch of high level engineers wrote a paper on why SOPA and Protect IP will break the entire internet on the engineering level.

One important quote stuck out…

“The site redirection envisioned in Section 3(d)(II)(A)(ii) [Protect IP/SOPA] is inconsistent with security
extensions to the DNS that are known as DNSSEC. The U.S. Government and private
industry have identified DNSSEC as a key part of a wider cyber security strategy, and many
private, military, and governmental networks have invested in DNSSEC technologies.”

Did you read that line?

“The U.S. Government and private
industry have identified DNSSEC as a key part of a wider cyber security strategy, and many
private, military, and governmental networks have invested in DNSSEC technologies.”

SOPA and Protect IP will be killed by the Pentagon/CIA/NSA because it would waste billions of taxpayer dollars within the military-intelligence sector spent on developing DNSSEC with is a totally at odds and incompatible with the DNS architecture proposed by Protect IP and SOPA…

At least we have the military-intelligence sector behind us…phew…

Orcris (user link) says:

Obama Against SOPA

Yeah, SOPA’s going to pass. IT will be one of the two worst bills ever (the other being the PATRIOT ACT). Fortunately, Obama has said that he’s going to veto the bill and maintain net neutrality. I doubt the bill will be able to pass by 2 thirds after that. Yay.

If it does pass, I’m going to seriously start considering moving to Canada.

canyon says:


if the bill passes then the internet will no longer be the internet, we are the power house of the internet so if we pass this bill than the whole internet is basically screwed. i don’t understand why the government would pass such a thing. if Google and every site that is under the bill shuts down then i don’t know what the impact would be on every day life, i mean what the heck are Facebook addicts are going to do, checking Facebook is a habit for some people that will be hard to break, and Google is how i find out information for school and see whats going on in the world.

theinvisibleman says:

wow really?

ok as we all know…..SOPA and PIPA suck! yeah thats right.
if it passed,people would protest against government and maybe even start a world war ON THE INTERNET!!!!
also how would this affect people in other countries?
if it passes hackers and other people would take down the government… i would be carefull if i were them.
also it is supposed to protect movie producers tooo right?
wrong. it would actually hurt them. there would be no ratings or compliments and they would have to be more carefull of what they put in the production (like thats not already hard!) so if you see this please protest for the good of you this country and the whole world too

Justin says:

SOPA Better not pass

If you should know Im freaking 11 and love the internet. If they even pass this (WHich they know they can’t) Im eather A. Making a child protest
B. Ask my parents to move to Sweden
c. Crap in my pants
D. Walk over to the Congress Hall place a complaint and Tell them “WHat the hell is worng with you? You guys are taking the constiution spitting,crapping and steppping on it!” The 1st Amandment will be broken and there will be mostly a voiloint revolution over the internet. (

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