Internet law expert Lawrence Lessig says that those who think that the fight over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is over are dead wrong. Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. He’s also a strong advocate for net neutrality, internet freedom, and the author of several books including Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace and Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity.
Lessig says that the war against SOPA is far from over, and believes that at some point the bill will be repackaged with many of the key components from SOPA. Lessig, who will be speaking at the Mashable Connect event in May, recently sat down with Mashable to talk about the future of bills like SOPA and international efforts like ACTA.
"I think that particular statute’s dead, but the issues and the idea will revive themselves in some other statute," said Lessig about SOPA. "It’s going to be very hard for any senator to reverse himself in the face of Chris Dodd’s almost direct threat that the MPAA’s going to retaliate against people that oppose SOPA. That means that if it’s going to come back, it’ll be in a different form."
Lessig points out that parts of the bill could be hidden in seemingly harmless legislation, added to budget bills, or added to bills that people feel strongly about such as those that deal with child pornography online.
In responding to a question about how the tech community could better organize itself he responded, "We’re going to have to find other, narrower ways to get coalitions together. I think one thing we saw was the important value of mediating institutions like Demand Progress (Public Knowledge, ECA, PDM, etc.) to rally understanding among the community. I think the community was a critical thing — when you’ve got thousands of calls to members of Congress, and those calls are all focused pressure in a way that Congress couldn’t resist — that made it possible for the community to beat the most powerful lobby in Washington.
The tech community needs to recognize the importance of these institutions and support them so they continue to thrive — so the next time we have a fight, there’s someone to sound the alarm.
When asked about the President's decision to sign ACTA as an “executive agreement,” instead of a treaty because it requires the Senate's approval, Lessig is quite blunt in his response:
"I think it’s unconstitutional. Jack Goldsmith and I wrote a piece that mapped out why it’s unconstitutional. We hope we get the chance to test that."
Finally, when asked if the debate between Intellectual Property and Creativity is a zero-sum game, Lessig said that it depends on what freedoms are at stake:
".. I think in the privacy debate, for example, better infrastructure could give more privacy and better security — a better place for identity. Better copyright law could give the copyright industry and artists what they want — but it’s hard for the industry to imagine this, so they fight this change. And it’s hard for anybody to imagine what this different infrastructure might look like, so we don’t get many people rallying for this change."
We look forward to the Professor's participation at the Mashable event later this year.