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.