For the last couple of weeks venture capitalists and startup founders have been raising the alarm over new anti-piracy legislation making its way through Congress that would fundamentally endanger the functioning of a free internet.
Betabeat chatted with Fred Wilson yesterday, who said that this fight is part of a broader attempt to protect the innovation economy. “I hope that that big tech companies see that and join us in making our voice heard on this issue.”
Mr. Wilson and his partner Brad Burnham went down to D.C. to put in facetime with politicians. “We’re at a disadvantage here. The entertainment industry is a lot older, more mature, with deeper influence in Washington.”
The best chance for the tech industry? Getting the word out through those powerful online networks. “We’re hoping the internet can save the internet,” Mr. Wilson said.
Well, consider the call answered. Today, AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla Corp, Twitter, Yahoo! and Zynga all signed on to a letter to Congress opposing SOPA:
“We are very concerned that the bills as written would seriously undermine the effective mechanism Congress enacted in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) to provide a safe harbor for Internet companies that act in good faith to remove infringing content from their sites. Since their enactment in 1998, the DMCA’s safe harbor provisions for online service providers have been a cornerstone of the U.S. Internet and technology industry’s growth and success. While we work together to find additional ways to target foreign “rogue sites, we should not jeopardize a foundational structure that has worked for content owners and Internet companies alike and provides certainty to innovators with new ideas for how people create, find, discuss and share information lawfully online.”
That’s the good news. The bad news? The hearing tomorrow will be stacked 5-1 with those who favor the SOPA bill over those who oppose it, reports Mike Masnick at TechDirt, with the MPAA, Register of Copyrights, Pfizer, MasterCard and the AFL-CIO stacked up against Google, who Mr. Masnick sees as a lame duck that can be framed as profiting off of piracy through YouTube clips and AdWords on torrent sites.
Tomorrow will be an epic showdown of shorts, one between old and new media, with the analog set looking to craft some powerful new tools to pursue pirates on the web, and the digital turks declaring these new laws as the kind that undermine the internet, one of America’s greatest innovations.