Lamar Smith & MPAA Brush Off Wikipedia Blackout As Just A Publicity Stunt

from the we'll-see-tomorrow dept

Well, well. It appears that Lamar Smith really wants to tempt fate and stick his tongue out at the internet. Beyond announcing that he's moving forward with SOPA, he's also continuing to mock the critics, calling the Wikipedia blackout a "publicity stunt":
“It is ironic that a website dedicated to providing information is spreading misinformation about the Stop Online Piracy Act," Smith said in a statement on Tuesday. "The bill will not harm Wikipedia, domestic blogs or social networking sites. This publicity stunt does a disservice to its users by promoting fear instead of facts. Perhaps during the blackout, Internet users can look elsewhere for an accurate definition of online piracy."
Smith, as per pretty much all of his statements on SOPA is either misinformed, disingenuous... or just lying. First of all, the anti-circumvention provisions certainly do apply to domestic sites, including Wikipedia. And as a site that provides information, it could certainly run afoul of those provisions. But, more to the point, Wikipedia isn't just speaking out because this bill impacts Wikipedia directly, but because of its wider concern over what this bill represents: a blacklist that seeks to block access to websites. You can be secure that it won't impact you and still take issue with the principle behind the bill.

It's a shame that Lamar Smith can't understand that, despite so many people online understanding it. I assume some of those people may give Rep. Smith a call tomorrow to express that point to him directly.

Meanwhile... shocker of shockers, the MPAA is out with a statement using a very similar phrase concerning the blackouts. Gee, kinda makes you wonder if Lamar Smith and the MPAA are consulting on talking points:
It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information use their services. It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests.

A so-called “blackout” is yet another gimmick, albeit a dangerous one, designed to punish elected and administration officials who are working diligently to protect American jobs from foreign criminals. It is our hope that the White House and the Congress will call on those who intend to stage this “blackout” to stop the hyperbole and PR stunts and engage in meaningful efforts to combat piracy.”
This is hilarious only in that we're talking about the MPAA here, who is famous for abusing its powers and "intentionally skewing the facts to incite" people (mainly in Congress) "in order to further their corporate interests." Seriously, who honestly thinks that Wikipedia, Reddit and others are shutting down their sites to "further their corporate interests?" The MPAA -- as per usual, remains totally, and completely tone deaf to what's going on.

The MPAA wants SOPA to further its corporate interests. Wikipedia is a non-profit. Its interest is in stopping the MPAA from mucking up the internet, not in "furthering its corporate interests." Once again, it would be nice if the MPAA and Lamar Smith had the decency to be honest on this issue, but they're still working by the old playbook... the one where you lie and donate to campaigns until Congress gives you the laws you want, no matter how unnecessary or damaging they may be. They're seriously underestimating what's been activated online over the past few months. It's a massive miscalculation to brush off these legitimate concerns as a publicity stunt.

Filed Under: blackout, lamar smith, pipa, protect ip, publicity stunt, sopa, tone deaf
Companies: mpaa, wikipedia


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Loki, 17 Jan 2012 @ 8:43pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    IT doesn't need to affect Wikipedia directly.

    These bills do little or nothing to stop any actual piracy.

    They do have the potential to be used to stifle competition and innovation.

    They do little to help protect or create job in the entertainment industry (although they may do wonders for the tech support industry).

    They do open the internet up to the potential for more breaches, hacking and spam (there's a reason that not just internet engineers have come out in force against this bill but that groups like Anonymous have been suspiciously quiet in the matter).

    In addition it's not just a matter of SOPA/PIPA.

    They more or less rammed the DCMA through.
    They more or less rammed ACTA through (mostly behind closed doors and in secret).
    They are already working on TPP (which is to ACTA what SOPA is to the DCMA) behind closed doors.

    So it's not just how SOPA/PIPA can be used it's also how they can be used in conjunction with other legislation. To start, SOPA/PIPA set a precedent for other nations to adopt there own versions (other countries already have these bills under consideration, the State Department has already successfully pressure Spain into adopting one, and the entertainment industry is trying to pressure Canada into adopting one to be included in negotiations on TPP).

    And while a US site clearly isn't foreign to the US, it would be foreign to Spain or the UK, or Germany, and thereby subject to similar provisions in the bills of those countries. Then all that is needed is a provision in some "trade agreement" like ACTA or TPP (or whatever comes after TPP if they can get that bill rammed through) that would allow any member nation to take action for violations of any other member nation (thereby allowing the US to take down a website not for violating the US version of SOPA, but for violating say the Netherlands version of SOPA).

    And if you think the industry isn't going to push for such a provision at some point, you are clearly ignoring almost the entire history of the RIAA and MPAA.

    And if you think the entertainment industries efforts will end with SOPA/PIPA or TPP, you are again pretty much ignoring the entire history of the RIAA and MPAA (as there continual effort to push longer and broader copyright extensions has repeated proven).

    And if you think the government (and industry) won't abuse these rules as well, you've largely chosen to ignore the (at least recent) history of the federal government. Just look at there abuses of the Patriot Act and the DCMA.

    I don't need to point out the exact language in the bill that directly affects Wikipedia.

    I don't need to point out the exact language in the bill that directly affects me.

    In fact, one of the biggest problems with the bill is largely it's lack of "exact language" for anything.

    At some point a line needs to be drawn, and a lot of people have chosen this as that line.

    As the old saying starts: "First they came for the communists.."

    Well I'm not about to wait until they get to the "trade unionists" or the "jews" much less wait for them to get to me.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.