Thanks to everyone in this community who has reached out to their elected officials on the SOPA/PIPA issue. It is hard to tell whether we are making a difference or not. But at least there are signs that Congress is recognizing that this issue is not as simple as the MPAA and RIAA have been making it out to be.

Yesterday Congressman Darrell Issa, who along with Zoe Lofgren, has been leading the opposition to SOPA in the House, tweeted out:

This is an indication that Rep Lamar Smith, who is the lead sponsor of SOPA is having a bit more difficulty ramming this bill through the Judiciary Committee than he thought. Maybe the letter from leading Internet inventors and engineers that came out last week caused everyone to hit the pause button (it should). Maybe your calls and letters are starting to have an effect (they should). Or maybe they just wanted to go home for the holidays.

But when the House and Senate come back in January, the SOPA and PIPA bills will be back on the agenda. We need to keep up the fight, we need to explain that this is very bad legislation, and we need to help Congress understand the Internet a little bit better so they don't fall prey to silly ideas like the ones in these bills. I'm committed to all of this. I hope you all are too.

I'll end with a link to a post written by Prof Laurence Tribe, who teaches Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School, in which he asserts that SOPA violates our constitutional right to free speech.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Dale Allyn

    Very encouraging, but we mustn’t relax the pressure against SOPA/PIPA. Come January we need to continue the contact with Congress.

  2. Dennis Buizert

    This is good news for everyone and not only the USA. I was already imagining an internet without meme’s, without innovation, without a growing internet startup industry. And let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Waiting for @FAKEGRIMLOCK to draw up a situation with SOPA/PIPA in place. 

  3. Brad

    These guys are incapable of passing anything. This is a good thing for the most part.I have a feeling based on timing, that Fred is hitting the slopes today….the post usually come in way before I am in front of my computer.

    1. andyswan

      “These guys are incapable of passing anything. This is a good thing all the time.”FTFY

      1. Brad

        Thanks for the fix…. Two things most people in this country do not understand:1. We are a republic, not a democracy. 2. The founders set up the system to create gridlock.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          Here’s another fix for you:”Democracy” and “republic” are not antonyms. The US is a representative democracy and a republic. A republic is a type of representative democracy.The claim that “most people in this country” don’t know that it’s a representative democracy strains credulity. Anyone who votes in national elections knows that 1) they vote for representatives; 2) they don’t vote directly for any legislation (there are no referendums at the federal level, though perhaps there should be).You are closer to the mark on your second point — the founders didn’t want gridlock, exactly, but they did want to heavily constrain the government.

          1. Brad

            Just pointing out that the founding fathers determined that a slowed down government means that the representatives have to actually come up solutions with each other and not fast tracked ideas that happen to be vogue at the moment.I like it when I hear people say Washington is broken, usually this means a less intrusive government.

          2. Kevin Pillow

            Why do I feel smarter?

      2. gorbachev

        I’m sure the FAA employees royally f***ed by our bribed elected rulers would disagree strongly.

        1. Brad

          I personally know a few of our representatives (Grew up in Idaho and live in Utah, pretty easy access in the small states) and I can tell you most of them you would not hire for almost anything. Yet, they control the purse strings for trillions of dollars. If it is not the FAA, someone else will get screwed to score a political point.I wrote an article for my own self indulgence after listening to two politicians fight over the budget. The Senator from Utah had very little assets before he became a 6 term Senator and is now worth $5M. Someone needs to explain to me how that is possible unless there are bribes (the answer will always be book sales and speeches, this to me is a way of laundering money).

          1. Kevin Pillow

            5MM really isn’t that much when you’re busy keeping the greatest nation on Earth great!

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Brad

            You say so much with so little….

          4. LE

            “a 6 term Senator and is now worth $5M. Someone needs to explain to me how that is possible”Well as one explanation, this (legal insider trading by members of congress):…But the other explanation is that people in positions like that get to meet plenty of people. Those people are doing deals (could be side business or real estate) and they turn them onto various opportunities. Not all of this of course is nefarious. Someone who belongs to the right country club will meet people and get opportunities as well.

      3. Aaron Klein

        The best words in the Constitution are often “Congress shall make no law…”

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          Are you advocating lawlessness ?:-0)

          1. Aaron Klein

            Nope, just that we have plenty of laws already. DMCA is just fine, for example, but the inexorable push for more laws leads us to SOPA.

          2. kidmercury

            a world in which the legislative process is not respected could be regarded as lawless. by that measure, we are already in a lawless world. 

        2. Kevin Pillow

          Random thought when I read your post

    2. Tom Labus

      except for themselves!

    3. fredwilson

      i am skiing for the next week. we got a bunch of snow yesterday. it was fun. skied with my wife and kids (who are young adults now). it was great.

  4. JimHirshfield

    Calling my congressman a few weeks ago was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done to express my patriotism and disappointment with these bills.Gonna do it again in January.

    1. Aaron Klein

      Jim, you are such an optimistic person. I hate calling my Congressman about legislation and I’m actually friends with him, for crying out loud. 😉

      1. Kevin Pillow

        I wish I was friends with my congressman.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I’ve never asked him how he manages to put up with it. I’m not sure my mental sanity is compatible with serving in Congress.

          1. Kevin Pillow

            Maybe he just passes it on to his aides. Plus to serve in congress you would have to be okay with defying common sense on a daily basis.

    2. Shawn Cohen

      Same here. I also noticed that the company I work for is in Lamar Smith’s district (I thought I lived in his district too but was mistaken). So come January, he’s going to here from a constituent that will definitely be negatively affected by SOPA.



  5. Conrad Ross Schulman

    Fred keep it up. Stopping this bill should be addressed every day in posts.The more you mention it, the more we do. let’s make a difference!Also, what do you think about changing the current banner ad on AVC to an ad related to stopping SOPA? #stopSOPA #Persistence 

    1. fredwilson

      i should do that. i will work on it.

  6. JMoyal

    Hi Fred,Is there anything more we can do after we’ve written our Congressman and tweeted/shared the information?

    1. Kevin Pillow

      I’m not Fred but…..I think you can organize a neighborhood PAC to share your views locally with school mates, coworkers, family and friends. Then encourage them to do the same with their neighbors, using could help with the logistics of bringing people together.

    2. fredwilson

      try to get to their staffer who is point on this issue for them. talk about the engineers letter. talk about tribe’s point about constitutionality. talk about the potential loss of jobs in the fastest growing industry right now. 

  7. William Mougayar

    As I alluded before, this fight has global ramifications. The first thing they’ll do if SOPA/PIPA wins, is they’ll take it internationally more vigorously. We are watching from outside the US, and thanks for keeping the heat on it.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      I can see it now.A little pirate up in the corner of the Canadian flag!

    2. Kevin Pillow

      It’s a Slippery Slope! No pun intended…

    3. vruz

      Despite all the Hillaryspeak for “freedom”, the State Department has already been pushing SOPA-like legislation in other countries, “They have even offered to fund enforcement and literally draft the laws that sacrifice free speech for greater copyright protection for Hollywood.”… Worst Secretary since Condoleezza Rice.

    4. bernardlunn

      Switzerland has already passed a law specifically making online piracy legal

      1. William Mougayar

        Interesting. Thanks Bernard. Do you have a link or name for that law?

  8. another cultural landslide

    The most important thing we all can do is keep beating the drums. Don’t let up in your tweets, your blogs, your Facebook status, etc.. And play attention to any alert that goes out about SOPA/PROTECT-IP appearing on the docket. Reid in the Senate has already made clearing the hold placed by Wyden “a priority in January.” As soon any procedural  date is announced, start beating the drums again. Hard. SOPA’s pals may have the money, but it’s clear flooding the Capitol with phone calls stunned both bill’s sponsors. And the LA folks ARE in a panic about the sudden resistance.Everyone’s efforts ARE making a difference. We just need to keep educating the general public – because from what we’ve seen personally, when they realize what these bills do, they actually pick up their phones and call.

    1. HistoryInAction

      It’s already announced for Jan 24:…

  9. Jason Keramidas

    I wouldn’t read too much into the scheduling change, it is a pretty frequent occurrence on the Hill. That said, once the session starts up again in January it is imperative to keep the pressure on.

  10. andyswan

    There is no question it is unconstitutional.   Same goes for Obamacare, the patriot act, and the NDAA among a host of others.This is why we need to elect leaders who understand that the Constitution is NOT a “living, breathing” document (what contract is??), but instead is a rigid set of rules designed to confine the power of the Federal Government….which can ONLY be changed through the designated amendment process….not some glossy speech-maker’s ability to shift popular sentiment.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      The Constitutional way to fund universal health insurance while eliminating free riders would have been via universal taxes, the way Medicare, for example is (partially) funded now. But if the Obama administration proposed raising the payroll tax by enough to cover it, it would never have passed.

      1. JLM

        RHETORICAL QUESTIONS:One has to ask why the gov’t is in the health care business to start with?Why not automobile insurance?  Why not D & O insurance?I have provided health, dental, life, vision insurance to all of my employees for over a third of a century with no assistance from the gov’t — except for it being a legitimate business expense and therefore deductible.So, what is the argument for the gov’t being involved in health care insurance at all?

        1. kidmercury

          the answer is simple….if government isn’t involved, then they don’t get to take your money…..everyone’s gotta earn a living JLM…..i mean if they don’t tax you how is president soetoro going to go on a $4 million vacation to hawaii??? http://www.huffingtonpost.c…

          1. JLM

            You got that right, Kid.Merry Christmas!While I think that everything about being President is expensive, you would think that a phoney like BHO would at least be attentive to the elitism of taking Hawaiian and Maaaaaaaaaartha’s Vineyard vacations during wars and crisis moments.Tone deaf, big time!

          2. JamesHRH

            Do you think he is listening to Axelrod at all, at this point?That guy must have 80 ulcers by now.

          3. LE

            “Maaaaaaaaaartha’s Vineyard vacations “He’s smitten with the Kennedy’s that’s why. And  Michelle thinks she’s Jackie O.My favorite though is the fact that he took the time to meet with his kids teachers I believe in the first month of office. (Not needed and not needed to set a good example either. The type of behavior that any serious organization fighting a huge problem would certainly frown upon so early on)…

          4. Aaron Klein

            I’m just imagining Hillary kicking Bill in the shins over this. “In 1996, your pollsters made me go camping in Wyoming. CAMPING IN WYOMING!”

          5. JamesHRH

            Sorry Kid, but he whomped up some big dough during the campaign. He read the market’s need for a new direction and did not give his books profits away.

        2. JamesHRH

          You know, its not that bad up here.What they fight here is any kind of private care for the wealthy (losing that battle, BTW – as the top 1% have been leaving the company for private health care for 60 years and now the top 20% want to do the same thing, without the travel).Its not perfect, but most people want the broken to get a bare minimum, given the overall wealth of the country.

        3. Dave Pinsen

          Government is in the health care business because we don’t want sick and injured people who can’t afford medical treatment to go untreated.In NJ, state government mandates that drivers have auto insurance — to be specific, the liability part of it. I don’t know if they mandate D & O insurance for directors and officers.The argument for government being involved in health insurance is that, if there were no government involvement, some individuals (e.g.., those with preexisting conditions) wouldn’t be offered insurance (or wouldn’t be offered insurance at a rate they could afford), and others who could afford insurance would go without it, but still stick their fellow tax payers with the bill when they show up at emergency rooms. And also that most Americans don’t work for you, and so don’t have the benefit of the insurance you provide as an employer.

          1. JLM

            There is a huge difference between health care and health insurance.   I am in favor of health clinics — actual treatment — not mandated, essentially government run health insurance.The issue of pre-existing conditions is a fair example of “managing by exception” but like many identified risks (flood insurance) the most effective answer may be in an assigned risk pool rather than direct intervention.Most insurance requires the insured to pay the cost of routine expenses (oil, gasoline, tires as an example for auto insurance) while providing a backstop for catastrophic expenses.This is the “insurance” model rather than the nanny state — first dollar out — model.At the end of the day, government can either empower or enslave.

        4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        5. Tom Labus

          It was during WWII that companies first started offering “health care” for employees.  This was to make up for salaries being frozen.  How insurance companies got inserted into the equation is beyond me.But when people who are sick are then too “risky” to be given access to docs, then something is seriously out of whack.

        6. Aaron Klein

          I would generally agree with you.If you look at this through the lens of “government should do for us what we can’t do for ourselves” (which is a pretty limiting lens), there is a sticky problem when it comes to health care, because it’s a life and death issue.On the one hand, I don’t know that we have it in ourselves to turn people away from care for lack of ability to pay. Can you imagine an uninsured person, bleeding profusely, being told that their credit card was declined and they’d need to seek treatment elsewhere? Not gonna happen in America.On the other hand, the fact that we should value human life to that extent creates a responsibility problem. I can’t tell you how many people I know who buy Playstations and iPads instead of health insurance, and use the ER when they get the flu. So I get to pay for my health care AND their health care. It could almost make one support an individual mandate (but not quite). ;)So it’s a sticky situation, no matter how you slice it. I do know two things: if we continue to make our safety net into a hammock, we’ll only accelerate the path to bankruptcy we’re already on.And the folks who can’t seem to issue me a driver’s license without a three hour wait aren’t the ones I want to put in charge of my health care.

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        Sometimes the cost and complexity of administrating detailed accounts in order to eliminating what you refer to as free riders is simply counter productive in comparison to a more generalized funding approach.The American healthcare system is a prime example.America pays out a much larger portion of its already bigger than average GDP for healthcare and receives in return lower quality outcomes than most other first world countries that spend much less on Universal Healthcare.Secondly – many in America presently find themselves disinfrachized form their own life long work-ethic and should not be lumped into the term free-rider. I suspect that even many of the so called free-riders would respond to genuine opportunity.Investing in efforts to converting free-riders into productive taxpayers would seem like a no briner in the long run.But something must be seriously broken in America when even those with a life long work-ethic cannot be converted from free-riders into taxpayers.I sense a disturbance in the political substrate.

  11. Randy Meech

    I built a quick mobile html app to track how Congress votes on this issue: now it geolocates you, finds your local members of Congress, and makes it easy to call them, but after votes start happening it will update so you can see how they voted. I like the idea of bringing something like this to the polls as a reminder on election day.

    1. John Petersen

      love it

    2. matthughes

      That’s terrific.I’d love to see it expand beyond SOPA…Nicely done.

    3. kidmercury

      wow…you even got a great domain name for it….excellent work, kudos

    4. Donna Brewington White

      This is really fantastic.I don’t know what’s more more impressive, the app itself or the example of relevant responsiveness to a current need. Love it.P.S. I also like that it works on my laptop.

      1. Randy Meech

        Thanks so much! Next up will be SEO-friendly detail pages for each congressperson, maybe with comments. Would love to see Congress taking a look at this.



    6. Aaron Klein

      Who knows, given the way Congress is these days, you MAY have just violated the law by not ending that post with “I’m Randy Meech, and I approve this message.” 🙂

    7. Ryan Frew

      Randy Meech is a legend.

    8. Mark Essel

      Accountability, can’t wait to see this expand and change how representatives act.

    9. fredwilson

      that is super awesome randy. i’m going to tweet it out right now

    10. Mordy Kaplinsky

      love it!

    11. ShanaC

      Thank you!!!!

    12. ShanaC

      I’m getting the wrong congressperson because my ip address is being assigned from a different nearby district

    13. Ben Kamens

      My friend and I just released a SOPA-less version of this awesome idea as a free iPhone app. Everyone should be able to contact their congresspeople at the touch of a button at all times.

  12. Rohan

    Ah Congrats everyone! This is progress. 🙂 A quick quote of the day.. ‘So convenient it is to be a reasonable creature for it enables us to invent a reason for everything it has mind to do’ | Benjamin Franklin Have a good one folks!

  13. gorbachev

    “Maybe the letter from leading Internet inventors and engineers that came out last week caused everyone to hit the pause button”If you were watching the markup hearing, you’d know that it didn’t.Anything opposing the bill was being ignored without any consideration by the proponents of the bill. Issa, Lofgren, Polis and others were talking to a stone wall.

    1. Kevin Pillow

      My favorite part was watching Rep-(D-CA) Maxine Waters lay down the law with “Mr.Chairman” on how no one is going to stop the bill from being passed.

    2. fredwilson

      i know. but i wonder if what happens behind closed doors matters more

  14. Tom Labus

    The Vint Cerf letter to the committee helped a lot.But just because the argument against passing is logical and well thought out doesn’t mean that it translates in that world.

  15. LE

    One thing I have yet to see that would be helpful is a side by side matrix comparison of all the issues and counterpoints of the two sides on 1 or several pages. Tribe’s article and the Internet engineer’s letter are great, but they don’t go far enough in giving the ammunition in a format that will be able to defeat the other sides claims clearly, authoritatively, and concisely.If someone were to create an easy to read side by side “sales type” comparison that could be used to fully understand and convince others of the key issues in this fight that would be extremely helpful. This can then be distributed to the media as a graphic for insertion in stories on this issue. And sent to lawmakers.It should also contain a third column, a compromise column, suggesting a way to implement a law that would be acceptable to both parties. Hackers are quick to create a software solution to aid with a problem. Are there any writers that are willing to cull through the data to create this table?

    1. Joe Spinelli

      How about SOPA Goggles?A filter/proxy that allows the average user to experience a revised web experience as if this legislation was passed would be immensely valuable to helping to underscore how far reaching and overly broad this legislation is as written. 

  16. Aaron Klein

    As we work on this issue, here’s an important thing to keep in mind: being in contact with the elected representative’s staff is often equally or more important than being in contact with the elected official themselves.I sent a letter the last time this was posted and I’m 95% sure that my congressman will be opposed to SOPA (he’s one of the most libertarian minded Republicans in the country), but I’ve reached out to a member of his staff to offer my help in understanding the technology industry perspective on the bill.Here’s something you can do in 30 minutes to stop SOPA. Call your Congressman’s office and ask to schedule a short appointment with the District Director. Tell them it’s to provide a short 10-minute technology industry perspective on the bill. Unless they have already taken a position on the bill, they really appreciate the chance to learn how each side sees the legislation.Your perspective will filter up in staff meetings to the Chief of Staff. That’s the person who will huddle with the representative before the vote to decide which way to come down (if that representative doesn’t have a firm opinion and is undecided).

    1. Arbitra T. Orange

      Oh, so that’s how it works.

      1. Aaron Klein

        Often. Every elected official has a set of issues they care deeply about. It’s the ones they don’t know or care about, but still have to vote on, where they can swing either way.And when it comes to those votes, it’s always a question of what gives them the most advantage vs. what gets them into the least trouble… 🙂

        1. Mark Essel

          Sharp strategy, and not too time consuming. Just gotta fight the battles you can win.

    2. fredwilson

      yes. i am spending 90% of my time on this issue talking to staffers and only 10% talking to the elected officials themselves. great point.

  17. Brandon Marker

    Thanks for the link to Tribe’s post! 

  18. sigmaalgebra

    “Facilitate” and TimeAs Fred knows, I wrote Senator Schumer and opposed SOPA-PIPA.  Since then I wrote my Congressman in NY20 also in opposition to SOPA-PIPA.  The L. Tribe piece had some nice arguments that would have helped my letters.No, I wrote okay letters and didn’t call them names, etc., however tempting that was.But Tribe’s article helps a point I tried to make to my Congressman:Tribe mentioned that one of the bills wants to forbid sites that “facilitate” forbidden activity.  And as we have read, a search engine could be at risk for reporting a URL to a site that is ‘bad’ — engages in, supports, encourages, is “dedicated to”, forbidden activities.  Hmm …Okay, implicit in all of this is that there is a Web page; it exists; it existed yesterday; it will exist tomorrow; and it is frozen, static, and unchanging; and it is a ‘bad’ (sinful, evil, contemptible, truculent, incorrigible, transgressing, …)  Web page in the future if and only if it is such things now.Maybe Congress is willing to believe such nonsense about how Web pages work, but no one at would!Or, Web pages are subject to CHANGE over time.  In particular, each copy of the Web page served is commonly the result of execution of a computer program that can be essentially as complicated as any computer program; in principle and significantly in practice, there’s no telling just what the next copy of that page might have.And even relatively minor changes might be sufficient to say that the page, or a page with a link to that page, ‘facilitates’ the condemned activity.  Could such ‘indirect facilitation’ be serious?  Pirate Bay didn’t send copyrighted content but just had links to Torrent sites.  Still even with the old laws, the Pirate Bay founders went to jail, in Sweden.  So, a Web page with a link to the Pirate Bay site would ‘facilitate’?So, now any Web page X at all with a URL to another page Y beyond the control of the owner of Web page X could be at risk of ‘facilitating’ condemned activity from some change in Web page Y as of the last second.  So, to have a link to Y, the owner of Web page X would need to have the ‘legal status’ of Web page Y as of the last milli, micro, nano, pico, femto, … second.Since this is impossible, page X couldn’t have a link to page Y. There could be no search engines.  No one could post a URL.  The Web would be dead.But we could have Govo-Web!  All Web pages are served from a server farm in DC run by the Administration; all pages are static and approved in advance.  Search engines would have to have a special license and provide search results only to the static, approved Web pages served by the Administration.  We’re talking the ‘Brave New World’, ‘1984’ big brother, Communist Party Great Leap Forward Central Committee, Great, Divine, Patriotic Leader of the People version of the Internet!  All just in time for the new administration in North Korea!Yup, as my political science Ph.D. brother explained to me long ago, some people don’t like the Bill of Rights! 

  19. Kevin Pillow

    The House is too busy fighting/posturing against the Senate on the extension of payroll tax cuts to focus on destroying the internet for now.

    1. sigmaalgebra

      The mud wrestling is really about the Keystone Pipeline and the election next year!

  20. kidmercury

    nice start, but there are many ways they — the military industrial complex — can push this through. congress is the preferred method because then you can argue the people want it. but if not, you can always scare the people into submission. what happens if there is a cyberattack on the pentagon? for those interested in liberty — whether that is a free internet, free speech, bill of rights, however you want to define it — the game is all about dismantling the military industrial complex. otherwise we are just responding and constantly on the defensive. ron paul has a real chance this time. i hope people will understand the connection between ron paul and liberty. remember executive is half the battle…..if paul is elected, none of this stuff gets signed, and a whole bunch of stuff gets repealed. no one else is going to do the same (except for some other third party folks who have a much less chance of winning due to even less name recognition). 

  21. jason wright

    Using Christmas as a pause in proceedings takes the momentum out of the ‘no’ campaign.

    1. fredwilson

      we can’t let that happen. i won’t stop.

      1. Mordy Kaplinsky

        Here’s hoping you’re not the only one.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. i love it. all those companies on that list should never ever be invited to invest in our acquire internet startups. they are clueless.

      1. jason wright…Did you make him an offer he couldn’t refuse? Should I be greatly impressed, or a little bit scared?

    2. jason wright

      Pfizer supports SOPA – why?Is there a list of those against floating around somewhere?

  22. Jay Shahpuei

    Lamar Smith may need to do a bit of research on what he’s actually doing…