Last week, in the wake of the Internet-Entrepreneurial community’s celebration over the defeat of SOPA/PIPA, Joel Spolsky posted a great piece about the need for our community to become proactive about governmental and regulatory changes that affect our industry. He makes some sage points.
First, he and Marco Ament, in another article, point out that the defeat of this particular law will not really achieve anything. If there is one thing I must be understood, it’s that the powerful, the entrenched interests, are tenacious. This bill will be back, and the organizations pushing the bills will have learned from this episode. The idea that if big content can stop piracy it will save their models will return, and with greater force. We will lose this fight, if we don’t act now to change the dynamics at play.
I diverge from Spolsky where he bemoans the ill effects that money has on politics, and suggest that if our community offers candidates something better than money-for-tv, in the form of YouTube, or somethings, that we can begin changing the conversation. While agree that Lessig is right, about the corrupting power of money in politics, and about the general argument that huge, monied interests are basically able to buy and sell our government, I don’t see an answer to our problems - at least not in the near (read: next session of Congress) term.
Until the entire game changes, our focus needs to be on two things, playing the game as the rules set out now, and a concerted effort at demonstrating that we are not some rabble - a bunch of hackers in garages - but a community of serious, innovative, nimble, job-creators.
To achieve these ends, we need an industry organization which can follow legislation as it is introduced - not in the two weeks prior to a floor vote. That organization needs to provide unbiased information about the legislation to its members, and then must build strategy for supporting or defeating it. The organization also needs to identify members of both houses of Congress who are either our allies, or reasonable enough to give our positions serious consideration, and we need to support those members with significant money. As much as I hate to say it, that’s the way the game is played.
That’s the short term plan. I think we probably have a break for the next few months, while the business of Washington turns toward a presidential campaign, but once a new Congress is seated, we have got to be back on this.
I’m willing to take an early lead, starting a 501c(3) and (4), building some tech infrastructure for information sharing, etcetera, but this won’t have the slightest effect if this project is not “we” - with a fearsome board of directors, and some shared vision and direction. Who’s in (@lofdev)?