It turns out Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the author of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act, has been caught red-handed infringing copyright with an image used on his personal Web site.
An investigative report by Vice found a photo on Smith's campaign site had infringed the copyright and never credited the source.
Here's how it went down.
Vice checked out an archived version of Smith's Web site using the Wayback Machine and found it once used a background image of a stock photo of a colorful woodland scene created by a photographer named D.J. Schulte. According to Schulte, the image was a Creative Commons photo that could be used by anyone as long as they credited his name. But Smith's campaign failed to properly credit the photograph.
I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that you have provided that the image was attributed to the source (me), Schulte wrote on Flickr.
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If SOPA, which would give the government power to shut down any Web site in violation of online piracy rules, passes, Schulte said he would be entitled to file a suit against its creator, Lamar Smith.
So my conclusion would be that Lamar Smith's organization did improperly use my image. So according to the SOPA bill, should it pass, maybe I could petition the court to take action against texansforlamarsmith.com.
Smith did not return calls to Vice, but if SOPA is passed, his Web site could theoretically be shut down by the will of his own hands.
SOPA was introduced in the Senate in October as part of the Protect IP Act to fight online piracy and copyright infringement. The terms dictated within the bill would hold any Web site or person using stolen works, including streaming videos or uploading content to YouTube, accountable and punishable up to five years in prison.
Most recently, Reddit said its Web site will shut down for 12 hours on Jan. 18 in protest of SOPA, one of the powerful forces trying to censor the Internet.