Congressional Staffers Still Can't Come To Terms With What Happened Over SOPA

from the time-to-learn dept

In a short article about a panel of Congressional staffers at the NCTA show, they basically admitted that any new "anti-piracy" legislation may be tough to pass -- with one staffer saying that the SOPA protests "poisoned the well." However, perhaps more interesting were the comments from Stephanie Moore, the "Democrat's chief counsel on the House Judiciary Committee" who apparently still refuses to believe that the public actually spoke out against the bill of their own free will:
“What happened was a misinformation campaign,” said Moore. “People were basically misled into contacting Congressmen with claims that were extraordinary. There was some genuine concern, but as for it being a genuine home grown grassroots up-from-the-streets opposition, I beg to differ on that.”
I always find this line of reasoning quite extraordinary. If you look at the history of copyright law -- especially over the past 40 years or so, it's been one "misinformation campaign" after another by RIAA and MPAA lobbyists. As we've discussed, Congress has bent over backwards to pass 15 anti-piracy laws in the last 30 years -- each one pushed by industry lobbying about how they would collapse and die without the laws being passed, and how no one will create content without such laws. They've been wrong every single time. So even if it was a misinformation campaign on the other side, at best all it would do is even out the playing field. Besides, looking at the arguments in favor of SOPA and PIPA, they were so full of blatant misinformation that I don't think any amount of misinformation against the bills would have even out the score.

But, to be clear, since I was pretty closely involved in the effort to stop these dangerous bills, I can say first hand that the claim that this was a "misinformation campaign" and that it wasn't about an "up-from-the-streets opposition" are hogwash by a person speaking from ignorance, anger or jealousy over having their own pet bill blocked. The folks working against the bill worked pretty damn hard to paint a clear and accurate picture of the bill. While there were various people who helped shepherd the process along, the protests didn't take on any life until various communities of people took them over and ran with them -- starting with the users on Tumblr and Reddit (followed closely by those on Wikipedia).

Of course, when you have any large group of internet users, not all of them are going to understand the nuances or the details. So, certainly some misinformation got into the discussion. To be fair, though, the largest bit of "misinformation" I saw on the anti-SOPA side was from people who didn't realize that (under serious public pressure), Lamar Smith issued a manager's amendment to take out the worst of the worst of SOPA (still leaving in plenty of bad). Some people mistakenly referred to the impact of the original bill in protesting later versions. This was, indeed, a mistake, but hardly a result of "misinformation." After all, those issues were in the original bill and were clearly part of what the House Judiciary Committee's staff was going for when it scribbled down the bill as the MPAA dictated it crafted the bill.

What I do know is that when misleading suggestions were made on the anti-SOPA email list, knowledgeable people quickly pushed back against those claims, noting that they were not true and should not be used. I did not see that on the other side. When the bogus claims of the entertainment industry were widely debunked, the supporters of SOPA kept on quoting them (and still do, to this day).

So, I'm sorry, but the idea that the defeat of SOPA was a misinformation campaign and not a grassroots effort is pure bunk. And if Moore wants to avoid a repeat, rather than lashing out mistakenly, and misunderstanding what happened, she should perhaps spend some time actually learning about why people were so upset by SOPA. But, of course, we know that won't happen.

Filed Under: anti-piracy, house judiciary committee, mpaa, ncta, sopa, stephanie moore


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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 23 May 2012 @ 1:01am

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

    Taking you at your word that you (actually, you used "we") have covered both willfulness and commercial advantage, kindly do me the favor of providing links to same. They are, of course, important constraints that apply to criminal proceedings, but not to civil litigation, under copyright law.

    We have discussed both in the context of Bieber specifically here: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111019/11572816419/free-justin-bieber-do-we-really-want-congress- to-make-bieber-felon.shtml

    Similarly there was some discussion with Zittrain, tht Karl already pointed out.

    I am heartened by the fact you took the time to review the USAM. If nothing else it should have provided some measure of understanding that the DOJ does not as a general rule act precipitously and with casual disregard for the rule of law.

    Tell that to the folks at Dajaz1. Or multiple other domains seized under bogus terms. Sorry, but the DOJ is totally out of control and they don't give a shit about the rule of law. Having gotten to know a few people who have been railroaded by federal prosecutors, your comment displays an incredible amount of ignorance about the DOJ.

    BTW, I am, of course, aware that you and others writing articles here have used the two terms. However, I am not aware of any analysis here of how these terms are interpreted by trial and appellate courts. It is links to the latter that my request is directed.

    Oh look at that! We call you on your bullshit claim again, and you're quickly moving goalposts.

    You're so full of it. You claimed we ignored willfulness and commercial advantage. You were wrong. Again.

    But you won't admit it because that's your M.O. Come here, act like a sanctimonious asshole who knows more than anyone, refuse to ever make an actual point, but merely make snide references to how "if so and so were actually familiar with x, they never would have made such a comment" and when everyone calls you on your bullshit act all offended by both the language (watch, you'll get the "vapors" again from all this "sailor talk") and pretend you never said what you clearly said.

    What's funny is we've been calling you on it for years, and you actually still think you're clever. Everyone sees through your bullshit.

    What's most amusing to me, of course, is how directly and clearly you fucked up in doing that on the Bret Easton Ellis post but your head is so far up your own ass that you couldn't even admit it.

    Let's try again: will you admit you made totally ignorant statements on the Ellis post? I might actually have a modicum of respect for you if you could admit it. But you can't. Because you're full of shit (*vapors!*)

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