Law Firms Removing Their Name From SOPA Supporters' List; SOPA 'Support' Crumbling

from the well-look-at-that dept

So we were just discussing how a bunch of companies who were listed by the US Chamber of Commerce as SOPA/PIPA supporters are demanding to be taken off the list, noting that, while they had agreed to a generic statement about fighting the sale of counterfeit goods, they don’t support crazy broad legislation like SOPA/PIPA. It seems that others listed as “supporting” SOPA are scrambling to get off the list as well. The Judiciary Committee’s official list had included a bunch of big name law firms as being in support of the law as well — which is a little strange, since law firms usually don’t take official positions on things like this. They may express opinions on such matters on behalf of clients, but outright supporting legislation is a different ballgame altogether.

A group of lawyers (most of whom have a long history of working with the entertainment industry) did send a letter to the Judiciary Committee to say that they agreed with Floyd Abrams’ analysis of SOPA. That’s it. They didn’t say their firms supported SOPA — and, in fact, there’s an asterisk with the signatures noting that the names of their firms are solely for identification purposes. Yet the Judiciary Committee took those names anyway and put them on the supporters list. Expressing a legal opinion on a bill is extraordinarily different from supporting the bill. But the Judiciary Committee ignored that and listed them as supporters anyway.

From what we’ve heard, many of those law firms are not happy, and have been demanding removal from the Judiciary Committee’s official list. Among those who have already complained/been taken off the official list are Morrison & Foerster, Davis Wright Tremaine, Irell & Manella, Covington & Burling. I would hope that the Judiciary Committee removes all the names and issues a rather public apology for blatantly including the names of firms who clearly made no statement in support of the proposed legislation. This is a pretty egregious move on the part of House Judiciary Committee staff. They’re so eager to list supporters that they’ve been naming firms who do not support the bills. And then they’ve been using those claims to pretend there’s widespread support…

So, between the US Chamber of Commerce stretching what many companies thought they were supporting and pretending it meant support for SOPA/PIPA, and the Judiciary Committee’s over-eagerness to assume that a legal analysis of one part of the bill by a few lawyers meant their huge law firms supported the bill… it’s looking like the facade of widespread corporate support for SOPA is crumbling pretty quickly…

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Companies: covington & burling, davis wright tremaine, irell & manella, morrison & foerster, us chamber of commerce

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Comments on “Law Firms Removing Their Name From SOPA Supporters' List; SOPA 'Support' Crumbling”

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63 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I do think they are being very weenie like, but that seems to be the nature of lawyers.

I would say more this (and the Godaddy change) is proof that those who claim to want free speech the most are seemingly the most willing to shout and cause a ruckus until other people shut up and stop opposing them.

It’s sad that anyone thinks of this stuff as a victory.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

proof that those who claim to want free speech the most are seemingly the most willing to shout and cause a ruckus until other people shut up and stop opposing them

Sure, why not? Free speech includes the right to drown out the opposition if you have more voices – and the risk of being drowned out if you don’t. That’s not a free speech issue. When you go running to the government seeking laws that drown out the opposition, then it becomes one.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

> I would say more this (and the Godaddy change)
> is proof that those who claim to want free
> speech the most are seemingly the most willing
> to shout and cause a ruckus until other people
> shut up and stop opposing them.

Aggressively advocating your position is not censorship. Asking the government to pass laws to shut people up is.

Anonymous Coward says:

US Chamber of Commerce is evil

They’ve been behind a lot of crap lately-the elections of Tea Party governors, and general Republican garbage. That they’re also doing this is not as surprising as the fact that they’re lying about all this rumored support from established companies that had no clue they were on that list.

I don’t even think they have half of the support they think they have-and the more people become aware of that fact, the better. It will finally uncover what the lie was in the first place: that SOPA would get passed easily.

Now it doesn’t look so easy, does it?

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I should also say asking to have their names removed from the list is a long way from joining the opposition. It sounds more like they want to appear neutral so they can take money from both sides later.

Did I say they joined the opposition?

No, I’m pointing out that the “desperation” to find supporters is clearly on the SOPA side, since that’s the side that has been exposed as misrepresenting who supports them on more than one occasion.

but you are still a schmuck.

You need to buy a thesaurus dude.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Here's a suggestion

Here’s the full list of every company that publicly signed that letter to Congress in September:
http://www.digitaltrends.com/opinion/the-439-organizations-sopa-opponents-should-worry-about/

What everyone who has a twitter account could do is name one or two of these companies-shame them publicly..and keep on doing it.

Eventually they’ll want to be taken off the list. It’s one way of making them pay for being stupid in public.

wvhillbilly (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Why not just shut down the entire Internet? That would get rid of the whole problem. That’s about what SOPA/PIPA is going to do anyway, if it becomes law.

Of course it wouldn’t take long before a lot of people find ways to circumvent all the restrictions, and the whole ‘Piracy’ thing will go underground where it will be 10 times harder to detect. Is that what you want?

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Response to: Rekrul on Dec 23rd, 2011 @ 12:06pm

Agreed. EA and Nintendo have both fully dropped support of the bill. It seems that it wasn’t just certain Law Firms added to the “official list”. The letter sent to companies specifically asked if they were against Piracy and made no mention of the entirety of the bill in the letter except the rhetoric of its supporters. Only specific sections were shown to appease specific companies opposition toward piracy. In legal terms this is known as legal misrepresentation and therefore makes the USCOC and the judiciary committee liable for lawsuit. I’m surprised no company has dared try that yet.

speedplane (profile) says:

These law firms are pulling their endorsements? This is actually what they said:

“In our considered opinion, the Protect IP Act and SOPA further the goal of free expression. Far from conflicting with the First Amendment, the proposed legislation will serve as an important contribution to ensuring an environment in which free speech and creative expression can thrive and flourish.”

wvhillbilly (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“In our considered opinion, the Protect IP Act and SOPA further the goal of free expression. Far from conflicting with the First Amendment, the proposed legislation will serve as an important contribution to ensuring an environment in which free speech and creative expression can thrive and flourish.”

By turning all Internet users into criminals? Everything on the Internet is copyright by default, so if it is illegal to download anything copyright from the Internet, then even downloading and displaying a web page (copyright by default even without a notice) is a criminal act.

Is that what you want?

Tox says:

“it’s threatening people with harm to their business if they don’t agree with you.”

What?

Most internet companies have taken no public position on SOPA. Some have. Those that have taken a pro-SOPA position should be prepared to face the consequences, in the form of lost revenue, because the vast majority of informed Americans despise this turd of legislation.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences of that speech. GoDaddy, MoFo, UMG, et. al. are perfectly free to take whatever position on this or any other piece of legislation, for whatever reason they choose. That’s freedom. Expecting to be able to take a public position, without affecting the opinions of the public? That’s lunacy.

I’m free to take my business to a company that better represents my values (or at least doesn’t actively fight against them), and I’m free to suggest that other people should to. That’s also freedom.

Nobody’s trying to drown out GoDaddy or Fox or any other supporter’s position on the matter. If anything, we’re trying to make sure that every one of their customers knows who their money goes to, so those customers can make an informed decision.

Anonymous Coward says:

Frankly, I would like to see an official copy of this “list” to which you refer.

The only copy of anything I have seen emanating from Congress is the list of co-sponsors of the Senate and House bills.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder when the letter written by the named counsel came to your attention. I certainly hope it was very recently (as within the past day or two).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Supporters list

Yours contains “Rouge%20Webites” and “SOP%20A”. It is identical to one I found on an earlier gizmodo article.

I found the new one (#45) after the old one stopped functioning. It should be noted that the new and old lists are NOT identical, and the old one contained both GoDaddy (absent from new one) and the lawfirms (something and Burlington, to name one).

The new list was amended.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A couple of persons above were kind enough to direct to to the “list”. Given the subject of this article, I expected to find the names of law firms on it. Curiously, I did not see any.

It does seem a bit strange that firms who are not listed would want to be de-listed.

No, it’s not weird. If you bothered to *READ* you would have seen that the Judiciary Committee admitted to totally fucking up and removed all those law firms names.

Just because you’re too slow to figure out how to use the web and to have found the list before Judiciary fixed it, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

From: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1211/70824.html


?Firms are livid. This is a major screw-up, and it could hurt our reputation,? said one firm official who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak on the record. ?Judiciary owes us an explanation.?

After reviewing the list, a Judiciary Committee aide confirmed that some firms were erroneously included. The aide said the list has since been updated on the committee?s website, although one version of it remained uncorrected as of press time.

?The listing of the law firms was a mistake made at the staff level of the committee,? the committee said in a statement to POLITICO. ?Once we were made aware of the mistake, we immediately removed the list of supporters from the website and revised the document. Our staff has been in contact with several of the firms and made them aware of our efforts to remedy the mistake.?

For someone who always tries to act like you know everything, I’m beginning to wonder if you know anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

It would have saved me research time had you simply provided the above link in your original article.

Law firms that represent clients with divergent sets of interests obviously do not go on record supporting specific legislation. Hence, I found it somewhat surprising that there was purportedly a “list” reflecting support. All I found from your article was a letter from certain named attorneys expressing support of Mr. Abrams’ analysis of the First Amendment as it pertains to the pending bills. Supporting a legal analysis of a specific issue is not the same as supporting the entirety of the bills.

You will note I made an inquiry as to when the letter from the named attorneys first came to your attention. I did so in the fervent hope that you had just learned about it. Otherwise it would have called into question some of your earlier comments that a ton of attorneys were aligned against Mr. Abrams’ analysis, and that Mr. Abrams’ seemed to be the only one opining that the pending bills do not rul afoul of the First Amendment. Apparently this is not the case, and if this was known to you for some appreciable length of time their letter should have been mentioned.

Correctly stated so as not to mislead others, it should have been stated that there is not universal agreement on the First Amendment issue, with some asserting that the bills do run afoul of the law, and others asserting that it does not. An unbiased article would have made this very point and presented you as being an honest broker.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It would have saved me research time had you simply provided the above link in your original article.

I provided a link to the letter which was relevant. In past articles I provided links to those who had compiled the list.

Providing the link directly to the Judiciary page was pointless, since they were already removing the names.

You will note I made an inquiry as to when the letter from the named attorneys first came to your attention. I did so in the fervent hope that you had just learned about it. Otherwise it would have called into question some of your earlier comments that a ton of attorneys were aligned against Mr. Abrams’ analysis, and that Mr. Abrams’ seemed to be the only one opining that the pending bills do not rul afoul of the First Amendment. Apparently this is not the case, and if this was known to you for some appreciable length of time their letter should have been mentioned.

I had missed your question. I learned of the letter on Thursday night, did the research on Friday morning and posted the story then.

Why you assumed otherwise, and went on to accuse me of not being an honest broker, is beyond me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I regret not being as clear as I should have been. My only point was that if the letter had been known to you for an extended period of time, then it that case it would have called into question some of your prior articles.

Your mention of when the letter came to your attention lays that possibility to rest. After all, it is hard to talk about something if you are not aware it exists.

You did link the letter by the attorneys, but the “list” was not linked. This is what took me some time to find, and apparently even then it had been changed to omit some names. What surprised me about the “list”, and why I took the time to look for it, is that law firms (including mine when I was in private practice) simply do not, except in the rarest of circumstances, ever lend the firm’s name in support of pending legislation.

With this said, I hope I clarified my remarks to your satisfaction.

BTW, and in all sincerity, I do wish you and your family a joyous holiday. I know it never snows in the Santa Clara Valley, but perhaps if you close your eyes and imagine it to be so it will be so. Otherwise, you can go outside with your children and do as we do in Florida…make angels in the grass.

Anonymous Coward says:

Boycott all SOPA sponsors

SOPA Sponsors:

60 Plus Association

ABCAlliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP)

American Federation of Musicians (AFM)

American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)

American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP)

Americans for Tax Reform

Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States

Association of American Publishers (AAP)

Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies

Association of Talent Agents (ATA)

Baker & Hostetler LLP

Beachbody, LLC

BMI-BMG Chrysalis

Building and Construction Trades Department

Capitol Records NashvilleCBS

Cengage Learning

Christian Music Trade Association

Church Music Publishers? Association

Coalition Against Online Video Piracy (CAOVP)

Comcast/NBC Universal

Concerned Women for America (CWA)

Congressional Fire Services Institute

Copyhype

Copyright Alliance

Coty, Inc.

Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB)

Council of State Governments

Country Music Association

Country Music Television

Covington & Burling LLP

Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP

Cowan, Liebowitz & Latman, P.C.

Creative America

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

Deluxe

Directors Guild of America (DGA)

Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc.

Elsevier

EMI Christian Music Group

EMI Music Publishing

ESPN

Est?e Lauder Companies

Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)

Go Daddy

Gospel Music Association

Graphic Artists Guild

Hachette Book Group

HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, Inc.

Hyperion

Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA)

International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE)

International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC)

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT)

International Trademark Association (INTA)

International Union of Police Associations

Irell & Manella LLP

Jenner & Block LLP

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Kendall Brill & Klieger LLP

Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump & Aldisert LLP

L?Oreal

Lathrop & Gage LLP

Loeb & Loeb LLP

Lost Highway Records

Macmillan

Major County Sheriffs

Major League Baseball

Majority City Chiefs

Marvel Entertainment, LLC

MasterCard Worldwide

MCA Records

McGraw-Hill Education

Mercury Nashville

Minor League Baseball (MiLB)

Minority Media & Telecom Council (MMTC)

Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)

Moving Picture Technicians

MPA ? The Association of Magazine Media

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

National Association of Prosecutor Coordinators

National Association of State Chief Information Officers

National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA)

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Crime Justice Association

National District Attorneys Association

National Domestic Preparedness Coalition

National Football League

National Governors Association, Economic Development and Commerce Committee

National League of Cities

National Narcotics Offers? Associations? Coalition

National Sheriffs? Association (NSA)

National Songwriters Association

National Troopers Coalition

News Corporation

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP

Pearson Education

Penguin Group (USA), Inc.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

Phillips Nizer, LLP

Pfizer, Inc.

Proskauer Rose LLP

Provident Music Group

Random House

Raulet Property Partners

Republic Nashville

Revlon

Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP

Scholastic, Inc.

Screen Actors Guild (SAG)

Shearman & Sterling LLP

Showdog Universal Music

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP

Sony/ATV Music Publishing

Sony Music Entertainment

Sony Music Nashville

State International Development Organization (SIDO)

The National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO)

The Perseus Books Groups

The United States Conference of Mayors

Tiffany & Co.

Time Warner

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)

UMG Publishing Group Nashville

United States Chamber of Commerce

United States Tennis Association

Universal Music

Universal Music Publishing Group

ViacomVisa, Inc.

W.W. Norton & Company

Warner Music Group

Warner Music Nashville

White & Case LLP

Wolters Kluewer Health

Word Entertainmen

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