SOPA Author Lamar Smith: Copyright Violator?


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Our chief SOPA correspondent is out of the office today but this story from VICE magazine was really too good to leave uncovered here at WPN, so I'm tagging in to share the story.

So if you've been following the saga of SOPA, you are likely familiar with the author of the bill, Rep. Lamar Smith. He's been a regular cast member in this epic struggle for Internet freedoms. If you're short on time, though, here's the abridged version: Lamar Smith believes the Internet is a wretched hive of scum and villainy when it comes to copyrighted material because he thinks people regard copyrights the same way they regard the newspaper you put in the bottom of a bird's cage.

Turns out, however, that the copyright-violating apple doesn't fall far from the tree for Mr. Smith.

VICE magazine writer Jamie Lee Curtis Taete took it upon herself today to check out Smith's campaign website and make sure that all of the material on there was copyright-verified. Fair enough, I believe, to expect that the SOPA author should at least bear the standard (however terrible) that he's trying to establish. Taete found a pre-SOPA'ed version of Smith's site and discovered this image being used as the background:


Taete tracked the image back to the photographer who took the photo, DJ Schulte, and.... well, c'mon, you see where this is going...

And whaddya know? Looks like someone forgot to credit him.

I contacted DJ, to find out if Lamar had asked permission to use the image and he told me that he had no record of Lamar, or anyone from his organization, requesting permission to use it: "I switched my images from traditional copyright protection to be protected under the Creative Commons license a few years ago, which simply states that they can use my images as long as they attribute the image to me and do not use it for commercial purposes.

"I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that you have provided that the image was attributed to the source (me). So my conclusion would be that Lamar Smith's organization did improperly use my image. So according to the SOPA bill, should it pass, maybe I could petition the court to take action against"

VICE said it contacted the office of Lamar Smith but, curiously, has not received a response.

And so, it is the end of the day and I have no ending for this astounding news so I will simply take a bow. See you tomorrow.