PIPA Support Evaporates

SUBHEAD: Sponsors of the PIPA/SOPA internet copyright legislation found to be pirates and have to abandon ship. [Editor's note: In the last few days the internet communication community faced off against the old-guard corporate content distributors and have turned the tide away from government censorship. The help of organizations like Google and Wikipedia were huge, but even more so was the response by the public.] By Timothy B. Lee on 18 January 2012 for Ars Technica - (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2012/01/pipa-support-collapses-with-13-new-opponents-in-senate.ars) Image above: Illustration of PIPA crumbling illustration by illustration by Aurich Lawson. From original article.

Members of the Senate are rushing for the exits in the wake of the Internet's unprecedented protest of the Protect IP Act (PIPA). At least 13 members of the upper chamber announced their opposition on Wednesday. In a particularly severe blow for Hollywood, at least five of the newly-opposed Senators were previously co-sponsors of the Protect IP Act. (Update: since we ran this story, the tally is up to 18 Senators, of which seven are former co-sponsors. See below.)

The newly-opposed Senators are skewed strongly to the Republican side of the aisle. An Ars Technica survey of Senators' positions on PIPA turned up only two Democrats, Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who announced their opposition on Wednesday. The other 11 Senators who announced their opposition on Wednesday were all Republicans. These 13 join a handful of others, including Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), who have already announced their opposition.

Marco Rubio, a freshman Republican Senator from Florida who some consider to be a rising star, withdrew his co-sponsorship of the bill, citing "legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's power to impact the Internet." He urged the Senate to "avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences."

Another co-sponsor, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) echoed that sentiment. He blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) for "pushing forward w/ a flawed bill that still needs much work."

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), one of the chamber's longest-serving members and another co-sponsor, described the Protect IP Act as "simply not ready for prime time."

The partisan slant of the defections is surprising because copyright has not traditionally been considered a partisan issue. Before Wednesday's protests, PIPA had 16 Republican co-sponsors and 23 Democratic ones. The bill lost a quarter of its Republican co-sponsors on Wednesday, while we know of only one Democrat, Ben Cardin (D-MD), who dropped his support.

Those who dropped their support were most likely bolstered by strong opposition from conservative think tanks and blogs. On Tuesday, the influential Heritage Foundation announced that it would include SOPA and PIPA as a key issue on its voter scorecard. And the popular conservative blog redstate.com, whose founder threatened to mount primary challengers to SOPA supporters last month, has been hailing Senators who come out in opposition.

Neither side is close to having a majority. A whip count by OpenCongress found 35 supporters (including 34 co-sponsors), 18 opponents, and 12 more Senators leaning toward opposition. About 35 Senators have not committed to a position, perhaps reluctant to do so for fear of angering either deep-pocketed Hollywood campaign contributors or their constituents back home.

Here is the full list of new opponents. An * indicates a former co-sponsor.

Update (7 PM): David Vitter (R-LA) is now also opposed. He was previously a co-sponsor of the legislation.

Update (9 PM): Three more opponents, all Republicans: Tom Coburn (R-OK), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Mike Johanns (R-NE).

Update (10 PM): Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) is jumping on the bandwagon. She was a PIPA co-sponsor.

PIPA Supporters are Pirates By Jamie Taete on 18 January 2012 for Vice Magazine - (http://www.vice.com/read/pipa-supporters-copyright-violations)
[Editor's note: This article was featured on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last night and it hit a raw nerve in Washington DC.] Image above: "Overweight Government Pig" clip art illustration by John Pritchitt illegally used by PIPA co-sponsor Dennis Rodman on hus website. From original article.

PIPA Supporters Violate Copyright Too

Last week, I wrote something about the hypocritical copyright violations on SOPA author Lamar Smith’s very own website. You might have seen it when it was featured on theForbes, Time or Huffington Post websites, or, most likely, when Tyler, the Creator tweeted about it just now.

I asked you guys to send me any other copyright violations you could find by supporters of Lamar’s “Stop Online Piracy Act.” To be honest, we thought the outcry surrounding the proposals had died down—there was talk that SOPA had been shelved, and Lamar’s office hasn’t been taking our calls—but earlier today, Lamar resurfaced to let us know that he still intends to use his bill to criminalize us all for posting the lyrics to “The Thong Song” on each other’s Facebook pages.

But if SOPA does ultimately flop, as all sane people expect it to, the slightly-less-bad PIPA bill is still waiting in the wings to gallop in and throttle all the fun out of the internet. So I’m moving the search over to PIPA supporters. (A full list of which can be viewed here.)

Thanks to everyone who sent me stuff. Sorry if you haven’t heard back from me, I got A LOT of emails relating to this. Below are the copyright violations carried out by PIPA supporters that I was able to prove. There’s many many many more (from almost every single PIPA co-sponsor’s site, in fact), but without actually getting written confirmation from the copyright owners in question, I’m unable to post anything here.

A lot of people have also been getting in touch to point out to me that these people are not violating SOPA/PIPA. Which is true. My point is more that, if these people aren’t able to abide by EXISTING copyright laws, they clearly lack the understanding to create stricter ones and, ideally, should just GTFO.


This is a screencap of PIPA co-sponsor Roy Blunt’s Twitter page from a couple of days ago.

The background image is by photographer Walter Rowland. I spoke to his wife Linny, and she told me:

“Wow, I’m so surprised to see that someone would do this. Especially a senator! It’s even more of a violation because I’m actually in the photo so it’s as if I’m supporting his beliefs. Yes, that’s one of my husband’s photos who is actually a semi-professional photographer, and no, they weren’t given permission.”

Roy has since changed the background on his Twitter in an attempt to cover his tracks.


This is PIPA supporter and Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill’s Twitter page as it appears right now.

And this is the background image she stole from Flickr user J. Stephen Conn, who told me this:

“I do not recall giving the senator permission to use this photo on her Twitter account. I have put the photo in the Creative Commons, which means anyone may use it for non-commercial purposes, however, proper attribution of the photo should be given because it is NOT in the public domain.”


The above screencap shows the homepage of Florida congressman/PIPA co-sponsor Dennis Ross’ website.

Which features the appropriately titled illustration (above) “Overweight Government Pig” by cartoonist John S. Pritchett. You’ll notice that Dennis cropped out the part where it says “© John Pritchett”. We contacted John, and he told us:

“To my knowledge, I did not license the usage of my “Overweight Govt. Pig” illustration to Dennis Ross.”

Wuh oh!


And finally, we have Ohio senator and PIPA co-sponsor Sherrod Brown. Who, as you can see from the above screencap, is using an image lifted from Google Maps on his offical senate site.

According to the Google Maps content rules and guidelines page, you are only allowed to use content from Google Maps if you credit Google, and “Make attribution readable to the average reader or viewer.” At the time of writing, Sherrod’s site does not credit Google Maps.

It truly saddens me to see this group of people using creative content that they did not create to further their own political agendas. Here’s to hoping PIPA passes to offer the world some protection from these wicked, wicked people.

See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Internet Censorship Ahead 11/16/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Wikipedia Blackout 1/18/12 Ea O Ka Aina: Google Petition 1/18/12 .

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