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Ask HN: My Congressman invited me to meet re: SOPA, what would you tell him?
35 points by jaxn on Dec 22, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments
After calling my Congressman (who is supporting SOPA) and asking for an explanation on Twitter, his office has called and invited me to a meeting next week to discuss SOPA/PIPA. I think there will be other local tech entrepreneurs there as well and feel this is a good opportunity to try and sway a vote.

If you were at this meeting, what would you say? Are there anecdotes that you would use to talk about the potential negative impact of this legislation? How would SOPA/PIPA affect your business?

First I would do some research.

Does he support SOPA? if so why? how strong?

What is his technical background? Would it be useful to have simple explanations of different parts of internet technology?

What technologies does he use? How would those be affected?

Second I would be prepared to explain in as much detail as possible how hurts my business and future business plans. In your case bizen.com in particular and potential entrepreneurial opportunities in the future.

Good luck and I look forward to a follow up post about how it goes.

What technologies does he use? How would those be affected?

This. If they understand that the tools they utilize everyday would not exist had SOPA been enacted in 1991... and it continues to move with support, we know the rafts are safer than this boat...

It might help to mention the increasingly unreasonable takedowns coming out of the entertainment industry as indications of why this is unbalanced. (Like, for instance, Universal's recent takedown of a MegaUpload promotional video in which they admitted knowing they had no intellectual property interest whatever.)

Also, it might help to mention costs of compliance for small startups that feature user-created content, as a fraction of total expenditures, if you (or anyone else at the meeting) has credible figures and is in a position to disclose them. (The Reddit "SOPA will shut us down" post is a nice start, but I'm not sure they've posted the numbers to back it up, and you might need those to be really convincing.)

Lastly, there's the DNSSEC argument, which is open-and-shut if the guy is technical enough to understand it. But if not, well... look at some video of the abortive Judiciary markup to see what you're up against.

The challenge is that we are in Nashville, TN - a city owned by the recording industry.

The good news is that he is a pretty smart guy and has a solid understanding of financial issues. I think talking about the impact to the tech industry in terms of jobs and growth will be the best bet.

To borrow from my favorite author:

Already established legal remedies for rights-holders like the DMCA vs. SOPA: "It's the difference between using a feather and using a chicken."

Consider not just talking about SOPA (he probably has canned counterarguments to most points), paint the bigger picture for him.

1. NDAA recently over-rided both habeas corpus and posse comitatus.

2. Anti-Net Neutrality forces are attempting to hand over the Internet to the telecom cartel.

3. Police are increasingly militarized and violent, DHS is collaborating.

4. ...

Out of time to write more, but you get the idea. Everything coming out of DC these days appears aimed at curtailing our Constitutional Rights and civil liberties, and everyone is feeling under seige. SOPA is one more straw on the camel's back.

Don't on any account do that.

First, he is quite likely to label you a nutjob and automatically ignore everything you say. This may be true even if he agrees with you.

Second, even if he is sympathetic to SkyMartial's points, from the congressman's point of view this stuff is quite simply irrelevant to the problem at hand. He needs to know whether or not SOPA is a bad law. He does not need your input on whether or not Congress habitually passes bad laws (whatever his opinions, he probably knows way more than you about it).

Sounds like quite a good way to be dismissed as a kook.

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