The Daily Caller features today an op-ed by former senator Don Nickles in which the Oklahoma Republican throws what weight he has behind two controversial anti-digital piracy bills before Congress, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT-IP.
According to Nickles, the two bills will bring about a new age of glorious online free enterprise, and the critics of the legislation (who object to the potential for abuse and online censorship) are liars who enable criminal behavior:
While there are differences in the two bills, the ultimate goal is the same: to protect the American workers and businesses whose jobs are in jeopardy.
Critics of the legislation have fired a fusillade of inaccurate accusations charging that the bills will undermine Internet freedom. Protecting free expression online and protecting intellectual property rights are not mutually exclusive goals and suggesting they are is a false choice.
Freedom of speech has coexisted with intellectual property protection since our nation's beginnings. Our founders in fact respected the principle of intellectual property protection so much they included it in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. And founders from John Adams to George Washington wrote and commented on the integrally linked concepts of freedom, liberty and property rights. Theft of intellectual property is not protected speech any more than breaking into someone's home.
So Don Nickles supports SOPA and PROTECT-IP. What neither he nor the Daily Caller disclose is that Nickles supports them because he's paid a lot of money to support them.
Nickles' lobbying firm -- the Nickles Group -- lobbied in support of PROTECT-IP (S.968) on behalf of the Copyright Alliance, which has paid the Nickles Group $135,000 this year. It's likely that the Nickles Group is also lobbying for SOPA (the bill was introduced in October and fourth-quarter disclosures won't be made public until the new year).
The Daily Caller should make clear to their readers Nickles' financial incentives for promoting these two bills.