House Judiciary Committee Makes SOPA Hearing a SOPA LovefestNovember 13, 2011 - by Donny Shaw
On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will be holding a hearing on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill that would create the first ever mass internet censorship system in the U.S., all in the name of protecting Hollywood from filesharing. The bill has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, as well as the backing of the powerful music and movie industries, so it’s expected to pass if it gets a vote. There was some hope, however, that Wednesday’s hearing would be an opportunity for Congress to hear from some of the industries and interests that don’t think the bill is such a hot idea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case.
TechDirt reports that the hearing is being stacked with people who will speak in favor of the bill:
Ever since SOPA was introduced, we’d heard that the eventual House Judiciary Committee hearings on the bill would be an unfairly stacked deck. Despite such wide opposition to the bill, and the fact that this represents a massive change to the regulatory and technological framework of the internet, we’d been told, repeatedly, that the hearings would be set up with three representatives in favor of the bill, and just one against. Apparently, the supporters of the bill are simply too afraid to actually listen to that many concerns and have to surround themselves with “yes men” to think they’re doing the right thing.
Turns out that the decks are being even further stacked.
Today, we’re hearing that the head of NetCoalition, who many people expected to represent the wider tech and internet industry’s significant concerns about SOPA has been denied a seat at the hearings. This is the same group that has been requesting a seat at the negotiating table all along, and has been denied by the MPAA and its supporters. Basically, the decks are being stacked so far in favor of SOPA, that next week’s hearing will be a total joke. We’re even hearing rumors that it will now be 4 representatives in favor of SOPA, and no one who will represent the wider concerns of the internet industry that’s about to be regulated. Instead, the committee is looking for someone who will only raise some specific narrow concerns about the bill.
The comapnies that support SOPA have been “speaking” to Congress with their campaign contributions as well. According to an analysis by MapLight.org, interets that support the bill have given four times more money to members of Congress than oppose it. For aclose look at those numbers for the curent campaign cycle, see the money trail.
Pictured above is Rep. Lamar Smith [R, TX]. He’s the main sponsor of SOPA, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and the guy in charge of deciding that only pro-SOPA witnesses would be allowed to speak at the hearing.