Website Censored By Feds Takes Up Lamar Smith's Challenge: Here's Your 'Hypothetical'

from the take-that dept

So, remember Lamar Smith's claim that all of the problems of SOPA are "hypothetical" and no one has shown any language as to what's wrong with the bill? Yeah, it seems that one such "hypothetical" has decided to take Smith up on his challenge. Enter Dajaz1, the American music blog that was censored for over a year and denied due process... under SOPA's predecessor, the Pro-IP Act (which many of us tried to warn about at the time it was being debated). Yes, it appears that Dajaz1 (finally relaunched) has a thing or two to say to Lamar Smith about his "hypotheticals."
Before I get into SOPA and PIPA, let’s go backwards and discuss the language of Pro-IP. Since Mr. Smith is so concerned about the language I’m hoping he can point me to the language in the Pro-IP Act covering criminal forfeiture where it states or even insinuates that it can be used to seize DOMAIN NAMES. That language doesn’t exist, what does exist is broad confusing open ended wording that apparently covers a wide spectrum of things the legislators who passed this bill never considered it could be used for. With all the assurances the bill he co-sponsored back in 2008 wouldn’t be misused coupled with the fact I’m writing this post on a factual representation of its misuse, it seems pretty rich that he’d have the guts to come out talking “show me the language.” Who cares about “language” when it’s written specifically to be vague enough to allow for a free for all?

Lets be honest here: What the worlds population hasn’t caught onto yet (and all the (‘Big Content’ owned versions of Self Serving State TV are not going to tell them) is much of the things in SOPA/PIPA that people are against, the authors and many of the co-sponsors of SOPA/PIPA already snuck into Pro-IP. The internet is already being censored, it’s already being misused, abused, free speech has already been stifled and there has already been collateral damage. All with the same open ended broad definition type language that exists in SOPA/PIPA that they absolutely refuse to narrow down as evidenced by not approving even the most common sense amendments. Many of which would have likely taken away or reduced their ability to misuse Pro-IP.

If Mr. Smith and his colleagues are genuine and sincere, why don’t they show US the language where it specifically states you cannot do all the things everyone is concerned about, make the language clear and concise, and then correct the language in Pro-IP so it can no longer function as the free for all that is already doing everything opponents of SOPA/PIPA are afraid of. Then, perhaps, I can take you somewhat seriously in your position that you believe you are doing the right thing and not just doing the bidding of corporations that bought you lock stock and barrel even at the detriment to your own reputation. One scenario makes you easy to manipulate, but genuine and willing to correct mistakes; the other just makes you corrupt. Pro-IP must be repealed and corrected immediately
But the folks at Dajaz1 are just getting warmed up. After discussing Pro-IP, they discuss how the industry has a ridiculously broad definition of "rogue website" by pointing to the infamous GroupM "rogue website" blacklist put together by Universal Music and others -- which included a bunch of hip hop blogs (including Dajaz1 itself and another of the seized blogs, OnSmash, which is still in purgatory somewhere). They also note that hip hop superstar Drake not only used the internet and free music to turn himself into a superstar... but that he did so via the exact same blogs listed on the GroupM "rogue website list.". From a press report at the time:
"You’ve gotta credit Drake, especially with NahRight and other sites, He was well-connected to those guys."
The use of the Drake example becomes pretty important, because back during the House Judiciary Committee's SOPA hearings, Rep. Ted Deutch of Florida, rather stunningly, used Drake as an example such sites. See the video here, which highlights how insane that is:
In fact, that's the topic of Dajaz1's third post in the series: just how out of touch Ted Duetch is that he thinks that, for there to be the next Drake, he needs to shut down the very sites that Drake directly used to promote his work.
REALITY CHECK: On February 12, 2009, Drake released a Mixtape called “So Far Gone” for free on the internet. This mixtape garnered so much buzz for him that he ended up touring (making a reportedly 5 figures per night), and getting several singles on the radio in the top 10 on Billboard. Drake accomplished all of this as an independent artist. A bidding war ensued by the major labels and Drake signed to a major a few months later. Despite the fact that he’d given away “So Far Gone” for free 7 months prior on the internet and it had well over a million downloads, the tape was re-released as an EP by his label in Sept. 2009 and still managed to go Gold. He was nominated for 2 Grammy Awards.

Drake came from the internet, making relationships with and utilizing the blogs, most of which are listed as so called “ROGUE WEBSITES” that have been targeted by “Private Rights of Action” in the form of a blacklist by advertising giant, Group M. Two of those “rogue sites” had their domain names seized with banners calling the operators criminals by The Dept. Of Homeland Security. (While this domain was returned last month, OnSmash is still in purgatory). No hypothetical here,this is the reality of the misuse that is happening now and will only get worse with the passage of SOPA and PIPA.
Dajaz1 also points out that the other example Deutch uses -- Adele -- also came up through the internet, and was discovered on MySpace -- just the type of site that would be significantly burdened under SOPA/PIPA. Furthermore, the post highlights numerous other top music acts directly thanking the various sites listed as "rogue sites," including some of those seized and censored by the US government under ProIP.

In the final installment, Dajaz1 points out that SOPA and PIPA are not about "saving the artists," they're about saving the big, slow legacy players who fear innovation that allows artists to succeed without them.
When Congress and the RIAA says “Rogue Websites” do they mean the tools the artists are using to connect directly with their fans and distribute their own music? I mean I’m just wondering because I could make this post 20+ pages of screen shots showing examples of artists utilizing these “ROGUE WEBSITES” the RIAA is trying to get Congress to pass legislation and scrub from the internet.
And, in fact, Dajaz1 then shows a ton of tweets from famous artists to the very same blogs that were targeted as "rogue sites" (some of which were taken down). So just as clueless Congressional Reps. like Lamar Smith, Bob Goodlatte, John Conyers, Mel Watt and Ted Deutch insist they're "protecting the artists," it appears those very same artists are using those darn "rogue websites" to not just promote themselves and their careers, but to make a ton of money doing so.
So who exactly is Congress trying to protect? The content creators or trade groups with deep pockets who become obsolete if the majors fully embrace technology and innovate? Truth be told there are some incredibly smart people in the urban internet world who’d be amazing assets to the legacy industry in adapting to the marketplace. If only they’d utilize them.

One of the most disturbing things to come out of the SOPA hearings is how gullible many members of Congress appear to be and how technically inept many are in Washington. If you don’t understand the technology it is not OK to say you don’t get it while turning around and saying you don’t believe the people who do. (I’m looking right at you Mr. Watts) Generation Gaps are no excuse, you’re in what amounts to a management position and you should be qualified to hold that position when you are dealing with my generation and our children’s generation economic future. Your lack of knowledge is not an excuse for the loss of any American’s Constitutional Rights. To essentially shoulder shrug like you’re cute when something that important is at stake is reprehensible. If anyone in Congress, The White House, DOJ, ICE, Homeland Security, or any other branch of Government’s knowledge in technology stops somewhere around 1997 then it is time to retire as you are no longer qualified to hold your position in 2012.
This is the crux of the matter here. The complaints that Lamar Smith so wants to dismiss are not "hypothetical" to sites like Dajaz1. And, they're not hypothetical to artists like Drake. The idea that these artists need such laws to protect their interests is simply laughable when you see how these artists rely on those sites to market their works, make a name for themselves, and leverage that publicity into huge piles of money from live shows or later recording deals. These aren't hypotheticals. These are all very, very real... and Congress, in its ultimate cluelessness, is trying to break the internet to "stop" these sites. And not because it will protect artists, but because it will protect the major record labels and movie studios from up-and-coming competition. The major labels don't want Drake to come up through the internet. They don't want people like Mac Miller creating best selling albums, without a major label, by using those same sites to get publicity.

So they start this huge campaign to label these new forms of distribution as "rogue sites," get the US government -- in its admitted cluelessness -- to support them, and then (to make the insult even worse) pretend that it's all about protecting the very artists who rely on these new forms of distribution.

Sorry, Lamar Smith: the threat isn't "hypothetical." It's very, very real, and Dajaz1 is living proof.

Filed Under: adele, censorship, drake, hypothetical, john conyers, lamar smith, mac miller, mel watt, pipa, proip, protect ip, sopa, ted deutch
Companies: dajaz1


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  1. identicon
    Loki, 10 Jan 2012 @ 4:14pm

    One has to wonder, given how MySpace is now plastered to the bone with major industry content, if it would still be possible for Adele to emerge today? Or would she simply get lost buried under all the major label crap like most independents are now?

    And again, as I've pointed out before, I don't see examples here - with either Adele or Drake - of copyright itself making people money. Granted copyright could have been used to prevent people from claiming their works as there own (which is what is is/was suppose to do) but that's not how it functions anymore. Now it's just a commodity to be sold off to large corporations (clearly Drake was making good money before he signed with a label - the bidding war was just for who got to "buy" his copyright).

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