Last week, I had the pleasure of spending time with some of my
favorite copyright lawyers at the Copyright Society of the USA
(CSUSA) annual meeting. On Tuesday morning, Jay Rosenthal of NMPA,
Mitch Glazier of RIAA, professor Robert Brauneis and author Robert
Levine discussed the politics of copyright. The following is a
summary of my take-aways and thoughts from that panel
From Wikipedia blackouts to coordinated online protests by
companies such as Google, consumers were encouraged to engage in
digital activism (i.e. using social media for lobbying efforts and
other similar movements). These efforts are largely credited with
keeping the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act
(PIPA) from passing Congress this year. Bloggers were eager to
express their opinions about how copyright laws "chill their
user rights". Other citizens throughout the country
contacted their congressmen and women to share concerns, many using
notes prepared by the online companies that opposed the
Digital activism played a significant role in politics this year,
but one wonders how long this collective, organized effort will
last. On one hand, Google faces its own issues (such as
allegations of antitrust violations and privacy concerns) and
consumers may not be as supportive of digital activism efforts led
by it as these issues are discussed in the media. Additionally, the
coalitions active in opposing SOPA and PIPA may begin to splinter
from their own internal disagreements related to privacy and terms
of use. On the other hand, grass roots efforts may continue to
grow. The generation that grew up with the internet and
file-sharing is entering the workforce and government service.
Younger legislative staffers and law clerks will continue to
influence politics and law. SOPA, PIPA and similar
legislation may be difficult to pass in the face of this youth
movement and coordinated digital activism.
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