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©opyBites: Copyright Law Blog: Orphan Works Legislation
Topic: Intellectual Property 10:10 am EDT, May 24, 2006

Lamar Smith has a nack for writing bills that I hate, but this rule change is baddly needed and I support it.

Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today introduced the “Orphan Works Act of 2006” (H.R. 5439), which creates new guidelines for use of copyrighted material when the original owner cannot be located.

©opyBites: Copyright Law Blog: Orphan Works Legislation

Congress Eyes Idiotic Whois Crackdown
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 9:43 am EST, Feb  5, 2004

] "The Government must play a greater role in punishing
] those who conceal their identities online
, particularly
] when they do so in furtherance of a serious federal
] criminal offense or in violation of a federally protected
] intellectual property right," (Lamar) Smith said at a hearing on
] the topic today.

Congress wants to make it a federal crime to lie on your domain name registration. If you do not make your real address, telephone number, and email available to everyone on earth you can be sentenced to federal prison time (in this version you'd have a sentence for another crime extended). This came up in last years legislative session as well. The thing that makes my blood boil about this is that the spin is totally wrong. The copyright people are lying through their teeth, this journalist can't see through it, and the CDT/ACLU don't understand EITHER so they are providing the wrong counterpoints, almost assuring that this will pass!

This article lets slide absolute lies like:

] Smith and Berman drafted the bill after receiving complaints
] from the entertainment and software industries that much of
] their material is made available for free on Web sites whose
] owners are impossible to track down because their domain
] name registrations often contain made-up names.

No web site owner is "impossible" to track down!

DNS whois information is made available for reference. It is intended to assist communication between administrators who run networks, for security or network management related reasons. It was not designed for lawyers or police. It was also not designed with the modern spam and stalker infested internet in mind, and therefore often people fill it out with false information, especially if they aren't a business entity.

If you want to track down someone on the internet for a legal reason, you do not use the DNS whois system. That is not what the DNS whois system is for. You do a nslookup on the domain name and get the IP address. Then you use the ARIN whois system, (a completely different and totally unrelated database that used to run on the same software) which tells you what ISP an IP address has been issued to. ARIN whois is usually correct. If it is not correct you can complain to ARIN and they can check their records. Their records are always correct unless the IP addresses have been stolen (and if you're dealing with stolen IP addresses you're way past the point where DNS whois is going to help you, federal crime or not). Either way you'll get an ISP. You then go to a court and get a subpoena, and send that subpoena to the ISP, and the ISP produces contact information for the customer. This always works.

Let me be absolutely clear about this. Requiring people to keep accurate dns whois records has absolutely nothing at all to do with being able to track down domain holders on the internet. You can always do that today. Forcing people to keep accurate dns whois records is about being able to track down domain holders on the internet without court authorization. We should not allow that.

What really pisses me off here is that no one on "our side of the fence" in this debate is making that point. We're going to loose this one if the discussion isn't forced back into the realm of reality. If this is about people committing crimes on internet sites that can't be tracked down by any means, we'll be passing laws based on a complete fantasy.

Kids, this is exactly how bad law happens.

Congress Eyes Idiotic Whois Crackdown

Congress readies DMCA ][
Topic: Intellectual Property 7:30 am EDT, Apr 24, 2006

New technology is "encouraging large-scale criminal enterprises to get involved in intellectual-property theft," Gonzales said, adding that proceeds from the illicit businesses are used, "quite frankly, to fund terrorism activities."

Willful attempts at piracy, even if they fail, could be punished by up to 10 years in prison.

But one of the more controversial sections may be the changes to the DMCA. Under current law, Section 1201 of the law generally prohibits distributing or trafficking in any software or hardware that can be used to bypass copy-protection devices. (That section already has been used against a Princeton computer science professor, Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov and a toner cartridge remanufacturer.)

Smith's measure would expand those civil and criminal restrictions. Instead of merely targeting distribution, the new language says nobody may "make, import, export, obtain control of, or possess" such anticircumvention tools if they may be redistributed to someone else.

When the Attorney General raises the specter of terrorism in the context of laws which primarily related to p2p file trading networks, its time to stop taking the Attorney General seriously. He is obviously not a serious person.

As for Lamar Smith, he is responsible for 2004's round of rock stupid DNS WHOIS legislation.

Congress readies DMCA ][

Labor Dept. probe of H-1B video sought
Topic: Miscellaneous 11:18 am EDT, Jun 23, 2007

That explosive H-1B YouTube video offering advice on how to hire foreign workers instead of Americans has gotten the attention of U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa), and Rep. Lamar Smith, (R-Texas), who called it evidence of abuse of the visa program. Both men want a federal investigation and are seeking answers from the law firm that posted the original video on YouTube.

What I don't understand is why this video has changed anyone's understanding of what goes on. If this incident is an "eye opener" you are deeply naive.

Labor Dept. probe of H-1B video sought

RE: Congress Eyes Idiotic Whois Crackdown
Topic: Society 4:06 pm EST, Feb  6, 2004

Decius wrote:
] ] "The Government must play a greater role in punishing
] ] those who conceal their identities online
, particularly
] ] when they do so in furtherance of a serious federal
] ] criminal offense or in violation of a federally protected
] ] intellectual property right," (Lamar) Smith said at a
] hearing on
] ] the topic today.
] Congress wants to make it a federal crime to lie on your
] domain name registration.

The actual bill is even scarier. It's a felony for you to "knowingly [provide] material and misleading false contact information to a domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority in registering a domain name used in connection with the online location, or in maintaining or renewing such registration.".

Check out the details of the bill at:

under "Text of Legislation" (which, BTW, it took me _forever_ to find; it's like they're trying to hide these damn things...). If you're really a glutton for high blood pressure, check out the rest of Lamar Smith's civil "services" at

Before starting your own gov't on a small South Pacific island, you can try mailing letters to your congressmen/-women and reps in the House. And, instead of posting angry rebuttals to the not-not sheep here on Memestreams, you might start a petition ( and spread the word about that. Is there anyone with legal experience (Acidus excluded :-) who'd like to tackle it?

RE: Congress Eyes Idiotic Whois Crackdown

Bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi keep logs for police | Politics and Law - CNET News
Topic: Internet Civil Liberties 5:21 pm EST, Feb 22, 2009

Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.

Lamar Smith is at it again.

Opponents of the bill say it's an invasion of privacy, but that's not the case. The government can only access subscriber information as part of a criminal investigation.

Actually, all kinds of people can get access to the information in lots of difference contexts, and thats legally - nothing about breaches.

How many times have we seen TV detectives seek call logs of a suspect in order to determine who he has been talking to? What if the telephone companies simply said to the detectives, "Sorry, we get rid of that information after 24 hours?"

That would be called a payphone.

The police could constantly surveil everything that everyone ever does all the time so that in the event that a crime is committed they can find out what happened. They could require that tracking devices and surveillance systems be installed all over the place. This sort of data retention is a part of that puzzle. The advocates of this sort of practice constantly act as if the next piece of this total surviellance infrastructure that they want to erect is no big deal... It is a big deal and it is an invasion of privacy... in aggregate it is a huge deal and these people have absolutely no idea where they would draw the line.

Our society needs to have a reasonable conception of when it does and does not make sense for the government to force people to collect information specifically for the benefit of litigants. In my view it never makes sense. Litigants should be able to access, with lawful authorization, evidence that naturally exists, but the government should not force wholesale collection of new evidence, targeted at everyone in our society. That is the only reasonable place to draw a line.

Bill proposes ISPs, Wi-Fi keep logs for police | Politics and Law - CNET News

Boing boing : Orphan works bill introduced: could give old creativity a new life
Topic: Miscellaneous 12:07 am EDT, May 25, 2006

Texas Rep Lamar Smith has introduced a bill to clear the way for the re-use of "orphan works" whose authors are unknown or unlocatable. This wasn't a big problem until 1976, when the US changed its rules and did away with copyright registration, so that everyone who created anything got an automatic lifetime-plus-decades copyright on it, from the lowliest napkin doodle to the most trivial Usenet post. This created the present situation where, according to the Supreme Court in Eldred v Ashcroft, 98 percent of the works in copyright are orphan works, and liable to disappear long before their copyrights expire.

The bill looks like a pretty good compromise, but the devil is in the details -- it requires petitioners to undertake "best practice" searches for missing copyright holders, but leaves those best practices up to the Copyright Office. Depending on the procedure established, this could either be the savior of American cultural history, or its downfall.

Boing boing : Orphan works bill introduced: could give old creativity a new life

Infuriating - H.R. 3632 Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Amendments Act of 2004
Topic: Civil Liberties 3:28 pm EDT, Sep 22, 2004

Your House of Represtatives passed this:

] If a defendant who is convicted of a felony offense
] (other than offense of which an element is the false
] registration of a domain name) knowingly falsely
] registered a domain name and knowingly used that domain
] name in the course of that offense, the maximum
] imprisonment otherwise provided by law for that offense
] shall be doubled or increased by 7 years, whichever is
] less.

Doubled. How many aggravating factors in sentencing DOUBLE the sentence? This seems extremely overzealous. But that's not what really pisses me off. What really pisses me off is this section:

] (a) Free Speech and Press- Nothing in this title
] shall enlarge or diminish any rights of free speech or of
] the press for activities related to the registration or
] use of domain names.

What the hell does this mean? I've never seen a section like this in any law I've ever read.

Are they trying to say that this law doesn't supercede the first amendment? They're damn right it doesn't! The U.S. House does not have the authority to pass bills by majority vote that supercede the first amendment!

So what does this mean? The fact that you say that "nothing in this title shall... diminish any rights of free speech" doesn't make it so! This bill is an attempt to scare people into publicly registering their official name, address, and phone number when they engage in SPEECH activity on the internet! The only way to avoid first amendment implications is to not pass this into law!

Are they thinking that this line will shield this law from being declared unconstitutional?! You can't just undo the constitution and claim its alright because you say that's not what you're doing!!!

The fact is that this bill was written in bad faith, advocated in bad faith, and passed in bad faith. These people know full well that this requirement is not necessary, not useful, and has significant implications for the first amendment, and they've included this wording in hopes of weasling out of the consequences of that.

They've sold out one of the most basic fundamental rights protected in our system of government in exchange for 10-20 thousand dollar campaign donations from media industries who find that buying Congress Persons is cheaper then the cost of filing subpoenas when they prosecute someone.


(BTW, Marsha Blackburn co-sponsored this piece of crap. Update: Actually, FOIST was attached to the original bill as an amendment prior to passage. Blackburn cosponsored the original bill, but not the amendment. That honor goes to Lamar Smith and the abominable Howard Berman who wants to make it legal for the RIAA to hack into your computer.)

(ABTW, This section of this bill is called TITLE II FRAUDULENT ONLINE IDENTITY SANCTIONS. Or the Fraudulent Online Identity Sanctions Title. From now all I'll be referring to this thing as FOIST.)

Infuriating - H.R. 3632 Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Amendments Act of 2004

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