The Villain Behind SOPA, Rep. Lamar Smith: Copyright-Violating Hypocrite?


Texas congressman Rep. Lamar Smith has become a national household name, rare for obscure politician such as himself. It’s because he’s the author behind the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, better known as SOPA, which if passed, could give our government the power to shut down any website they find in violation of online piracy laws.

Including, it would seem, his own.

One of VICE’s reporters has taken note of Rep. Smith’s website, which—in an earlier iteration—apparently used a background image of some lovely trees.

Which were borrowed without the permission of the image’s copyright holder.

Who does not recall ever licensing them to Rep. Smith or his staff for Rep. Lamar’s uses, or receiving credit for the images used.

I managed to track that picture back to DJ Schulte, the photographer who took it. 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.”

VICE contacted Rep. Lamar’s office and is waiting to hear back. By the standards of SOPA, Rep. Lamar’s website could’ve been shut down (and theoretically, still could be) for being in violation of the law he helped draft. This is how utterly absurd the garbage pile of Hollywood-funded legislation that is SOPA actually, in practice, is. | @weareyourfek