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Last night Public Knowledge joined with Internet activists gathered in New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, DC (I attended the DC gathering) to formerly launch the Internet Defense League. The purpose of the league is to provide an organizing tool for many of the forces that came together to defeat SOPA and PIPA. Given that beating those bills was a political victory of comic book super hero proportions, the league naturally has its own “Cat Signal” showcased here, here, and here.
Keynoting the DC gathering was Congressman Darrell Issa, a lead architect in the legislative demise of SOPA. His efforts (as well as the heroic efforts of his staff) along with Congressman Chaffetz, Congresswoman Lofgren, and Congressman Polis, gave organizers the time needed to inform the public of SOPA. In fact, if not for the work of Congressman Issa and his colleagues, many of the members of the Internet Defense League would not have had the time to work with the public to launch the Internet Blackout earlier this year.
What was perhaps most praiseworthy of Congressman Issa’s attendance is that normally Members of Congress of his seniority are locked behind a pay wall of expensive campaign contributions only capable of being provided by powerful corporate executives. Instead he chose to spend his time with Internet defenders to discuss the future of the movement and reflect on our still recent victory. While the night focused on how we stopped SOPA and PIPA, a useful reminder was issued that the fight to protect an open Internet and more balanced copyright policy will continue.
The challenge before all of us now is to begin pushing the Congress towards a future where some of the most dysfunctional forms of copyright law are fixed and innovation remains a focal point of future Internet policy. Some of this work is happening now with the Internet Blueprint, the Declaration of Internet Freedom, and now the Internet Defense League. As the presidential election grinds the legislative process to a halt, the public will enjoy a very temporary respite from attempts (secretive and blatant) by the movie studios and record labels to eliminate the openness of the Internet. But like any good comic book villain, the SOPA forces will rise again and we will have another battle for the future of the Internet. Only this time the League will be watching and ready to rally the public to its defense.