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


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  1. identicon
    indieThing, 18 Jan 2012 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah, I saw that and was disgusted, so I dropped them an email to complain via their website:


    I don't normally write to complain about anything, but the BBCs reporting on the subject of a proposed American legislation, SOPA and PIPA was erroneous and misrepresented those protesting against SOPA/PIPA.

    The reporting made those protesting seem like they were pro-piracy or copyright infringement. This is NOT the case, most people are protesting because this bill could cause serious harm to the internet security structure as well as giving censorship privileges to private parties. All this without any form of liability or due process.

    There is enough evidence from the last so called 'piracy law', passed by the American government, the DMCA, that shows these draconian laws are misused to help slow down or even shut down business competitors, it's even used to censor free speech. Google has made no secret that the DMCA has a very high percentage of false take down notices.

    Also, this bill will do nothing to prevent copyright infringement, and speaking as a content producer with a very good technical background, I can assure you that in my commercial experience, copyright infringement does no major economic harm, having had my products 'pirated' many times. According to all the independent reports and even the American governments own GAO, most figures spouted by the pro-copyright industry are totally misleading.


    If everyone else in the UK reading this could do the same, perhaps we can get them to take notice or at least give both sides equal footing in the news coverage.

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