And so while the Senate has postponed a cloture vote on the PROTECT I.P. Act (PIPPA) and even early co-sponsors (Rep. Blackburn, Tennessee, (R) ) of the companion House bill – Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) – have now withdrawn their support, the key lessons from this debacle may very well have gone unlearned and this legislation might still be re-submitted at a later date.
The key lesson here is simple – the innovation economy is different. It has changed everything. Applying “traditional” solutions to the digital challenges and issues that it can present will not work. Attempts to rein in the creativity and participatory nature of the internet will only suffocate it.
This lesson will remain unlearned until legislators who truly understand the Innovation economy are sent to Washington. Those who are entrenched in their positions of power now do not. And that is a significant problem. The growth of the U.S. economy is dependent to a significant degree on the Innovation economy. For it to prosper, we need legislators who understand what that economy is all about.
Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheezburger family of sites, summed it up best when he said on PBS this week, “this is a very bad bill because it doesn’t understand the way the Internet works.” And really, listening to the arguments made in favor of the bill (mostly emanating from the traditional entertainment industry), that is difficult to argue with.
Let’s find ways to cultivate the Innovation economy and harness its ability to reproduce the next-generation of technology, services and entrepreneurs–adding value to our overall economy. Let’s not neuter it. For that to happen, we need those who understand how the internet works, and what it can still do, to shape legislation that befits innovation.
One additional lesson learned last week – the internet is a powerful tool for marshalling support and generating awareness. Two organizations that I have been involved in for decades, that helped people better understand the destructive impact the bill could have, are TechNet and CEA with The Innovation Movement initiative, which played a significant role in bringing this legislation to an end – albeit temporarily.