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[ NNSquad ] [IP] Congress Could Throttle Tech Innovation With Two Measly Words

----- Forwarded message from David Farber <farber@gmail.com> -----

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2013 12:46:53 -0400
From: David Farber <farber@gmail.com>
Subject: [IP] Congress Could Throttle Tech Innovation With Two Measly Words
Reply-To: dave@farber.net
To: ip <ip@listbox.com>

Begin forwarded message:

From: Dewayne Hendricks <dewayne@warpspeed.com>
Subject: [Dewayne-Net] Congress Could Throttle Tech Innovation With Two Measly Words
Date: September 24, 2013 12:16:25 PM EDT
To: Multiple recipients of Dewayne-Net - Sent by <dewayne@warpspeed.com>
Reply-To: dewayne-net@warpspeed.com

[Note:  I've already posted an earlier article by Khanna on this topic from 'The Atlantic'.  Here's his latest on the topic from 'Slate'.  DLH]

Congress Could Throttle Tech Innovation With Two Measly Words
By Derek Khanna
Sep 20 2013

Walking the streets in Palo Alto, Calif., it’s hard to imagine that the rest of the United States is still crawling out of a recession. I suggest we don’t tell the entrepreneurs here, most of whom are 19 to 27 years old—one of the demographics most shaken by the economic downturn. What accounts for this continued growth? Likely, the entrepreneurial spirit of these young people will continue even in difficult times, or perhaps unemployment and under-employment provides more reason to branch off and try something new and innovative. Clearly, the barrier to entry for many business ideas has fallen precipitously. Today, twentysomethings with novel ideas and the ability to write basic software code are inventing multimillion- or even multibillion-dollar iPhone apps (like Instagram). Hard work, ambition, and a healthy skepticism of old ideas and market models are the secret sauce of Silicon Valley and other innovation hubs throughout the United States.

The full utilization of American ingenuity and innovation demands these entrepreneurs, and thankfully there is no shortage of dreamers willing to take big risks and run with ideas, ideas that often seem crazy at first. While innovation can happen just about anywhere—Silicon Valley, a parent’s basement, a college dorm room—in Washington, D.C., policymakers have a different job: It’s less about encouraging than it is about not stifling our promising startups.

In my time in Silicon Valley visiting startups, angel funders, and VCs, no one asked me about new tax breaks or government-sponsored startup incubators. But I heard repeated concerns regarding problems with our immigration policy and numerous accounts of the difficulties navigating our ineffective patent system and how our current implementation of copyright, as opposed to constitutional copyright, discourages innovation, hurts content creators, and reduces the amount of content available for the consumer.

We can harness the incredible resource of human ingenuity, the greatest force for economic growth in history. But in order to do so, Congress needs to use care in creating and updating regulatory and legal structures that promote innovation. And right now, Congress may be poised to weaken what was once a model of forward-looking legislation.

Before 1996, website owners could be held liable for the content (defamation, false information, sexual content, etc.) posted by their users. As a clear example of the perverse effects that often exist with poorly written laws and regulation, the more that a website regulated content that was illegal or defamatory, then the more likely it was to be held legally liable for content it didn’t find. This policy meant that website owners had an incentive not to police user content on their website at all. Overall, it created a high bar for any website with user-generated content.

Congress responded with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in 1996. Section 230 is a relatively straightforward solution to this problem: Now, most websites aren’t liable for user-generated content (with the exception of intellectual property which is mainly dealt with under Section 512 of the DMCA).

Let’s say Section 230 was never implemented, and Reddit’s future founders arranged a meeting with their members of Congress to propose changing the law to facilitate their market model for a message board on the Internet. Assuming they didn’t ask the member of Congress who referred to the Internet as “a series of tubes,” it is likely that the politicians would respond, “This is such a small market, and a silly idea, so why would we bother changing the law for you?” And yet, today Reddit is a billion-dollar company and according, to one study, 6 percent of adults on the Internet are Reddit users (including me).


Dewayne-Net RSS Feed: <http://dewaynenet.wordpress.com/feed/>

David Farber

Carnegie Mellon University 
Adjunct Professor of Internet Studies

University of Pennsylvania
Alfred Fitler Moore  Emeritus Professor of Telecommunications

Cell: +1-412-726-9889
Email: dave@farber.net

Public Key Fingerprint: 2133 594F 87C6 DC11 8BCD 6897 F46C 3C84 91C7 03FA


----- End forwarded message -----

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren 
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org/pfir-info
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org 
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com/privacy-info
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Lauren's Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Google+: http://google.com/+LaurenWeinstein 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/laurenweinstein
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com
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