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53 VCs from 40 firms send letter opposing PROTECT IP (usv.com)
93 points by akozak on June 23, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments

Since it's a commonly-held sentiment that politicians and the laws they make are bought and paid for, I don't understand why some of the shockingly wealthy VC firms don't start buying up their own lobbyists. Surely it would make business sense for them to purchase laws in favor of internet openness?

While the media corporations are throwing buckets of cash at our lawmakers, the best that wealthy VC firms ($13B wealthy!) can come up with is a strongly-worded letter? Am I just misinformed, or being overly cynical?

The strongly worded letter is more to rally support from us, "The People", so we can be used as a secondary stick with which to threaten legislators.

Legislators like money, but they like votes more.

I'm sure the VC industry has its own lobbyists, but those as always have to work behind the scenes to avoid being accused of buying politicians.

I sometimes think that...

Then I remember why corruption isn't good for business.

1) A corrupt rent seeking company that depends on the government makes huge profits and has lobbying as a necessary expense in this process. Companies in competitive industries would have a hard time matching those money levels even if the industry itself was larger and created more jobs.

2) The corruption of the current US government is not simply on the level of buying people but rather based on the "revolving door" - congress people become lobbyists become industry executives become regulators etc. This system, again, benefits the most concentrated, rent-seeking companies/industries which depend on the government long-term (defense, health, etc, etc). These have the lifetime jobs available and have been milking this approach for ... a lifetime.

So a government up for bid is definitely a bad government, no escaping it.

I still remember reading about how the Google vs telco lobbying on net neutrality turned into a mess.

> Since it's a commonly-held sentiment that politicians and the laws they make are bought and paid for, I don't understand why some of the shockingly wealthy VC firms don't start buying up their own lobbyists.

What makes you think that they haven't? Seriously - look at how the the govt incentives for "green energy" line up with VC investments. Which way do you think that the causality runs?

WRT "internet openness", VCs don't capture as much of the benefit from buying legislators so they don't bother.

VCs try very hard to be rational about money.

The firms manage $13B. That's very, very different from being able to spend any of that money on ongoing expenses.

(Yes, they already take management fees, but lobbying would have to be paid out of these fees, not on top of it).

There are a lot of names missing. From my quick scan I don't see any of the well-connected old players signing on to that document.

The omissions speak more loudly than the inclusions.

This does not look like a politically influential list to me:

  Andreessen Horowitz
  AOL Ventures
  Avalon Ventures
  Benchmark Capital
  Court Square Ventures
  Draper Richards
  EDventure Holdings
  First Mark Capital
  First Round Capital
  Flybridge Capital Partners
  Founder Collective
  Foundry Group
  Greycroft Partners
  Greylock Partners
  IA Ventures
  Index Ventures
  Khosla Ventures
  Lerer Ventures
  North Bridge
  Rand Capital
  RRE Ventures
  Softbank Capital
  Spark Capital
  SV Angel
  True Ventures
  Union Square Ventures

Well SV Angel is Ron Conway's. How much more well-connected do you want?

I'm talking about connected to politicians

When injustice is law, rebellion is duty.

"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Use them in that order." — Unknown

  if (freedom.outlawed())
      assert !outlaw == !free

Didn't Wyden already place a hold on this?

Pity that this guy leans on McKinsey to support his argument. That will cost him some credibility, as recent events in the health care debate have shown that McKinsey is more than willing to discard any notions of scientific, impartial research if they have a political bone to pick.

Could you all send a similar letter for the patent reforms?

At some point there just has to be a disobedience of some laws. Just everyone flat out ignoring them.

Why is it that we cannot hold lawmakers accountable for shit?

I agree with that. Lawmakers should be a lot more accountable than they are now. Either that or we need a mixed system between what we have now and the public being able to vote on some laws, even if the final decision is not taken by the public. But it would be great if people could have a more direct influence on the laws being made, even if it's just only a few of them where the public can participate.

For example it could be a 2 step process where for laws that could be very important and they think the public might want to weigh in on the matter, they could vote whether the law should be voted by the public or not. And even then if say 60% of the public vote NO and are against the law, the politicians could still decide to pass the law, but obviously they could get a lot of bad press if its considered they didn't respect the people's wishes.

I think a mixt system like that or something similar, could be better than what we have today because then we wouldn't have politicians do everything regardless of what the public says, and it also not go to the extreme where you'd have a completely liquid democracy and all votes would be voted by the public.

I'd like to see a system that takes the best of both worlds. I don't know what the exact balance should be, but it could be debated and eventually we could come out with a realistic formula. For example it could be decided that if 51% says NO, then the public has the final decision. But we'd also have to consider a minimum number of voters to make sure the decision would be statistically correct for the whole population.

Unfortunately in this case, if the public were voting on the PROTECT IP Act, I can imagine the majority would vote for it because Piracy is Bad.

My family has somehow associated the word "download" with stealing. If I say anything about downloading a piece of software, I get lectured that Piracy is Bad, regardless of the fact that it's usually open source/free.

The money for next years budget or your local schools would be on the bill as well. You woudn't vote against money for schools would you?

This is how the system already works. When you have a bill that no one can realistically vote against, a bunch of junk gets tacked on to the end.

So VCs are really in for the money but who are they to say the IP Protection is pointless and useless and retards innovation.

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