Several months ago, I joined a group of entrepreneurs and VCs and met with various members of the House that were supportive or undecided about the bill. I think we had 12 or 15 meetings.
It was a sobering experience. I learned a few things on that tiring day:
1. Many elected officials told us that this bill was going through. If you recall it was passed unanimously though the Judiciary Committee. They told us we have zero chance to stop the bill and the only thing we could do was to provide feedback on portions we didn’t like.
2. Several members of congress had never read the actual language of the bill. I questioned a number of them asking what was wrong with DMCA and will be addressed in SOPA. No concrete response.
3. Hollywood’s lobbyists are far more organized than the technology world’s lobbyists. Every member I met with said they hadn’t heard from our side and they have had several mtgs with Disney execs etc.
I sent Fred Wilson a Kik after my first mtg (we divided up that day) and said something like “that was an ugly mtg and this is gonna be a long day”.
It was a long day and i left Washington bummed out.
Fast forward to yesterday.
Yesterday was a historic day. So many people stepped up and provide amazing leadership. Brad Burnham has been tireless on this issue. Protests in NYC and SF brought communities together. Thousands of websites went dark in protest including Wikipedia. And Google did a fantastic job educating people about the problems with SOPA.
And our voices were heard. It’s clear that many supporters of SOPA are now changing their vote.
I had goosebumps all day.
But we can’t give up.
I read almost every major newspaper yesterday and today about the protests. As far as I can tell *none* of them got our side of the story right. I read horrible things like “the tech community doesn’t like paying for content” in the WSJ. The NYT not once spelled out why this bill is problematic. WTF.
And we know the other side will outspend our side with a torrent of lobbyists.
But the web is bigger than any lobbyists effort. So we need to keep it and keep going. We know the Senate is at work right now to try to jam something through without any meetings or feedback from the anti-PIPA movement.
Yesterday was not the end. It is just the beginning.