Posts from PIPA

A Post PIPA Post

On my way from a breakfast meeting to the office yesterday I got a phone call on my cell phone with a 202 area code on it. I picked up the call and on the other end of the line was someone in Congress who I've known for a decade or more. He told me that the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was going to pull the PIPA bill in about thirty minutes. He also told me that the technology/Internet community had done a great job fighting the SOPA and PIPA bills and that the fight was over for now. I thanked him for the call and then I told him that we need to find a different way to address the online piracy problem because otherwise the technology community was in for a game of whack a mole with the content industry every year or two with our elected officials getting caught in the middle. He agreed.

I'm not in the mood to celebrate in the wake of the news that SOPA and PIPA are dead. Because the online piracy issue is still very much on the table and the content industry is not going to just walk away from the it. And as I've said in most every post on this issue, I am sympathetic to their concerns.

I think what Anonymous did in the wake of the Megaupload shutdown is deplorable and I am not a fan of vigilantes and mob rule. In stark contrast,  I am extremely proud of the online demonstrations we all participated in over the past month to change the mood in Washington over the two bills. We showed that the Internet can be a medium for "peaceful demonstration" and we do not need and should not resort to stunts like Anonymous pulled this week.

I'd like to make a couple points about this whole SOPA/PIPA fight and then go on to where we go from here.

First, the Internet community's opposition to these two bills was never coordinated by a central organization. When my partner Albert first raised the alarm bells on what was then called COICA back in September 2010, we could not find anyone other than a few policy wonks who had this on their list of issues. Our industry does not have an MPAA or an RIAA. For the past 15 months we have been working with various individuals, a few companies, and a few advocacy groups to fight these bills. We found each other over the Internet, coordinated efforts (or not) over the Internet, and used the Internet to protect the Internet. The opposition was chaotic, distributed, diverse, uncoordinated and extremely effective in the end. Just like the Internet.

Second, these two bills were drafted by the MPAA and the RIAA and walked into Washington without an iota of conversation with the technology industry. I can't tell you how many Senators and Representatives have told me that they were told by the MPAA and the RIAA that the technology industry was on board and that these issues would not impact the Internet and tech community adversely. This is no way for one industry to propose that Congress regulate another industry. I think it is absurd that one industry would have the arrogance to think it is appropriate to ask Congress to regulate another industry for them. And yet that is what went down on these bills.

So where do we go from here? I think we should come up with an entirely new framework to think about online piracy. The PIPA/SOPA framework was litgation heavy and very invasive. It was "we are going to do this to you." It's not surprising the tech industry didn't like it one bit.

We need a new framework that is based on a shared set of goals and objectives. The tech industry will benefit if the content industry makes more money online. And though they seem not to believe it, the content industry can make a lot more money online. So we should be able to get alignment around that issue. We can help each other. The tech industry has already helped the content industy many many times. On that topic, I love this Nat Torkington rant:

All I can think is: we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4. We gave you e-commerce, micropayments, PayPal, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, the iPad, the iPhone, the laptop, 3G, wifi–hell, you can even get online while you're on an AIRPLANE. 

So I've been busy over the past few days thinking about a framework that is based on a partnership between the content and technology industries. I have a bunch of ideas on this and I've heard a number of good ideas from others in the past few days as well. I have no doubt that a group of leaders from the tech community would be happy to sit down with the content industry and come up with an entirely new way to think about and address online piracy. But before that happens, the content industry, as represented by the MPAA and the RIAA, needs to understand that a litigation heavy invasive approach will not fly and they need to forget about that framework and come ready to come up with an entirely new one. I hope they can do that.


I Want AVC To Go Dark On The 18th

A number of popular websites will go dark this coming wednesday in protest of the SOPA and PIPA bills. Apparently Reddit, Minecraft, Craigslist and possibly Wikipedia will go dark. I want to join them.

I don't control my blog's web server. Typepad controls it. But I control my domain, I'm guessing the right thing to do is redirect where goes on the 18th. But where should I redirect it to?

If you have good ideas, please share them in the comments.

And I'd encourage everyone who has a blog do to do the same.

And I'd encourage Twitter, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Vimeo, eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Tumblr, WordPress and Typepad to go dark too. I know most of these services won't do it. They need to be respectful of their users' needs. But it would sure make a strong statement about the importance of the Internet and the danger of messing with it.



i’m into titling blog posts with hashtags these days.

yesterday, i grabbed a quick look at twitter in between a packed day of meetings and saw a tweet from someone that looked like this

it took me about a nanosecond to click on that link and add a stop sopa banner to my twitter avatar. this is something i’ve wanted and expected for a month or more. now i’ve got it. slowly my twitter feed is filling up with avatars with the stop sopa banner on them.

my dream is all of twitter fills up with this banner. then maybe the politicians in washington will realize that the people don’t want their lousy idea of a piracy bill.

please join me in making this political statement.


Freedom To Innovate

For something like seventeen years, I have been investing in entrepreneurs who have had the freedom to innovate on the Internet. It has been a powerful life lesson for me. These people imagine something, they create it, and they are off and running building a business, hiring employees, generating cash flow. They ask nobody for permission. They don't need any permits. They don't need any real estate. All they need is a server (now rented in the cloud from Amazon and others) and a laptop or two and they are good to go.

Almost of two decades of this environment of "permissionless innovation" has led to the creation of a huge new industry, which is global in nature, but unquestionably led by the US. Almost every young person I meet coming out of college these days wants to work in this industry.

This industry is the Internet industry. And the Internet and this freedom to innovate is under its first existential threat right now from the MPAA and the RIAA and their legislators in Congress. They want to fundamentally change the way the Internet works and they want to regulate the Internet. We must stop this and the time to do it is now. Here's how you can help:

1) Visit, get your talking points on jobs, free speech, and security, and then call your representative. I'm told that making the phones ring in Washington is still the best way to let your representatives know that you are upset. So please do this. It's super easy thanks to, of course, the Internet.

2) Visit I Work For The Internet, snap a photo of yourself, and add your face and first name to a list of all the people who work on and for the Internet. There are a lot of us, more than anyone in Congress knows. It's time to show our faces and names.

3) Censor your blog posts, tweets, and/or facebook wall posts. Fill the internet up with blocked out text. Show those in Congress the world they are taking us toward. You can do that here. I will do it tomorrow.

4) Read what our contry's leading information security scientists have to say about the SOPA and PIPA proposals. Not surprising, the approaches outlined in these bills will lead us to a less secure Internet.

But most of all, we need you to Occupy Congress this week in opposition to PIPA and SOPA. We have the facts on our side and we have the numbers on our side. But we are behind in this fight, the votes are not on our side. It is time to change that.