The Texas republican who introduced the Stop Online Piracy Act, the controversial bill that would forever regulate the internet – the only platform where free speech truly exists – is guilty of the law he is proposing.
Smith was discovered to be guilty of a copyright violation after using a photo on his websiite without giving the photographer credit, as Vice discovered last week.
Yes, it happens all the time on the internet but under Smith’s proposed law, it is an act that could send you to prison for five years if you make a habit out of it.
To listen to Smith describe SOPA, you would think he is doing his patriotic duty in protecting Americans from, well, participating in the global free market.
Today, the House Judiciary Committee will mark up the Stop Online Piracy Act (H.R. 3261), a bill that stops foreign online criminals from stealing and selling America’s intellectual property and keeping the profits for themselves. According to estimates, IP theft costs the U.S. economy more than $100 billion annually and results in the loss of thousands of American jobs. The Stop Online Piracy Act specifically targets foreign websites primarily dedicated to illegal activity or foreign websites that market themselves as such.
But the reality of the proposed law is that it’s all about censorship, as Playboy explains in an easy to read breakdown of five points.
Perhaps Smith underestimated the power of the internet because it has created a huge backlash against him and will possibly cost him his re-election bid this year.
After all, he would have simply kept his mouth shut, nobody would be raising a fuss over the fact that he used a photo without giving the photographer credit.
But under his own proposed law, that makes him liable of serving up to five years in prison.
Wikipedia, who strongly opposes the bill, blacked out its website in an effort to raise awareness about it.
However, it did not black out its page on the proposed law, so you can still read all about it before contacting your local congressperson.