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.

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Comments on “House Judiciary Committee Denies That Its SOPA Hearing Is Stacked In Any Way”

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59 Comments
Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

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.

Dr Evil says:

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?

Donniction says:

the actual cost

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?

Don’t forget, according to the RIAA a few months ago, this isn’t that far from the truth.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/223431/riaa_thinks_limewire_owes_75_trillion_in_damages.html

anonymous says:

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!’

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Kyle Zolnierz (profile) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

DC (profile) says:

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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