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The Author of SOPA Is a Copyright Violator

Is Lamar Smith going to send himself to jail?

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Wanna spend your night looking for hypocrites on the internet? Help us expose other SOPA-supporting, copyright-flaunting hypocrites here.

US Congressman and poor-toupee-colour-chooser Lamar Smith is the guy who authored the Stop Online Piracy Act. SOPA, as I'm sure you know, is the shady bill that will introduce way harsher penalties for companies and individuals caught violating copyright online (including making the unauthorised streaming of copyrighted content a crime which you could actually go to jail for). If the bill passes, it will destroy the internet and, ultimately, turn the world into Mad Max (for more info, go here).


I decided to check that everything on Lamar's official campaign website was copyright-cleared and above board. Lamar is using several stock images on his site, two of which I tracked back to the same photographic agency. I contacted the agency to make sure he was paying to use them, but was told that it's very difficult for them to actually check to see if someone has permission to use their images. (Great news, copyright violators!) However, seeing as they're both from the same agency and are unwatermarked, it seems fairly likely that he is the only person on the entire internet who is actually paying to use a stock image (and he'd be an idiot not to).

So I took a look back at an archived, pre-SOPA version of his site.

This is a screenshot of his site as it appeared on the 24th of July, 2011.

And this is the background image Lamar was using. 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 organisation, 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.


"I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that you have provided that the image was attributed to the source (me). So my conclusion would be that Lamar Smith's organisation did improperly use my image. So according to the SOPA bill, should it pass, maybe I could petition the court to take action against"

Oh dear. Luckily for DJ, there are people out there like Lamar making new laws to protect the little guy against online copyright theft. Keep fighting that good fight, Lamar!

Update: After this article came out, Lamar's site went down "for maintenance" for a while. You can read about it here.

Find out more about why Lamar's SOPA is dumb at Motherboard.

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @JLCT