SOPA vs Innovation and jobs
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The founders of major Web companies, including Google, Twitter, Yahoo and eBay, sent an "open letter to Washington" on Wednesday, warning that pending piracy legislation could stifle innovation and censor free speech. "We’ve all had the good fortune to found Internet companies and nonprofits in a regulatory climate that promotes entrepreneurship, innovation, the creation of content and free expression online," the founders wrote. "However we’re worried that the PROTECT IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act — which started out as well-meaning efforts to control piracy online — will undermine that framework." The letter was signed by Google's Sergey Brin, Twitter's Jack Dorsey, Yahoo's David Filo and Jerry Yang, eBay's Pierre Omidyar, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, YouTube's Chad Hurley, craigslist's Craig Newmark, the Huffington Post's Arianna Huffington and others.
My partner Brad and I spent Thursday in DC along with a bunch of entrepreneurs and VCs. We talked to dozens of our elected officials about an issue that is very concerning to us, protecting the safe harbors of the DMCA. The DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act . It received unanimous support in the Senate and was signed into law by President Clinton in 1998.
For something like seventeen years, I have been investing in entrepreneurs who have had the freedom to innovate on the Internet. It has been a powerful life lesson for me. These people imagine something, they create it, and they are off and running building a business, hiring employees, generating cash flow. They ask nobody for permission.
As venture capitalists, we believe deeply in the value of decentralized, emergent, start-up innovation. The Internet has been an unusually fertile ground for this type of innovation largely because, for the first time in history, it has been possible to get directly to consumers without negotiating with entrenched intermediaries. The result has been a spectacular explosion of innovation with tremendous benefits to consumers and to the global economy. McKinsey recently studied thirteen mature national economies and found that over the past five years, 21% of GDP growth can be directly attributed to the Internet. They found that 2.4 jobs were created for every job lost to Internet efficiencies. They also found that over the last fifteen years, an increase in Internet maturity is directly correlated to an average increase in real per capita GDP of $500.