Category Archives: intellectual property

Justice Thomas and SOPA, or “Give Me Google or Give Me Death”

When Justice Clarence Thomas came to speak to my class recently, I had the pleasure of meeting him afterwards.  I introduced myself and thanked him for coming, and he was very polite.  He even spoke with me briefly, and I can even remember basically sort of what he said.

During his talk, he repeatedly mentioned that we were the future, world changers, future Supreme Court justices and things like that.  Very inspiring.  But when I shook his hand, he looked right at me and repeated it.  “You’re going to be the ones making the decisions,” he said.  Then he said another great thing.

“So all I ask…. is just don’t take away my Internet.”

This SOPA is terrifying.  If passed, the government would have the power to order DNS blocking of websites based on infringing intellectual property.  If that sounds familiar, it’s the same thing they do in Syria.  And North Korea.

It’s not the same, lawmakers are saying.  This isn’t a prior restraint on freedom of speech!  We’re only protecting the rights of those creators!  Nobody would ever make art if it couldn’t be protected!  And look, even the first LINE of the law says it “shall not be construed to impose a prior restraint on free speech!”

Is this really how we’re writing our legislation now?  With golf-umbrella provisions to assure everyone of its constitutionality?  Prior restraint describes SOPA to a T.  I’d say that blocking an entire website based on the content of one of its pages hardly qualifies as a narrowly tailored solution to this so-called problem.

Note to the House and to Rep. Lamar Smith, I’m not the only one who has noticed this.  (Mr. Masnick from Techdirt says it a lot better than I do, i.e. it doesn’t actually say what it says it says.)

I hope this doesn’t pass.  But if it does, when- not if, when– this suffocating new law makes it to the Supreme Court, I know at least one justice is on my side.

More: Lamar Smith’s campaign contributions.  The entertainment industry is his #1 donor.

Big-money contributors include Time Warner, Comcast and Verizon.  I was also disappointed to see the Koch PAC gave quite a bit also.

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