Joe Kraus has some advice for his Silicon Valley brethren on how to talks to the powers in Washington, D.C. regarding copyright and digital rights issues: “Stop talking about copyright and acting like political teenagers.” Kraus, who was a co-founder of Excite, which was sold for billions in the bubble era before going bankrupt , formed digitalconsumer.org and spent two years after leaving his company lobbying Washington on digital rights issues. He said that the chief of the juidiciary staff said straight out to him that Congress is owned by Hollywood. “We have to stop fighting Hollywood on its own turf," Kraus said. Hit the lawmakers where it hurts, not arguing endlessly about copyrights or innovation but about how the economy end up crippled because of their actions. Silicon Valley is about technology and innovation, but in economic language its job creation and minting money--you mess with digital rights to satisfy old Hollywood, you compromise the 'new' economy. “It’s the only way we are going to win.” The crowd at the AO2005 Summit didn't rise to their feet. Hollywood knows how to work the legislative halls of Washington, and it spawned movies like the Godfather. Perhaps Joe is saying that Silicon Valley needs to learn how to (figuratively) place horse heads in the beds of Senators...probably not. Silicon Valley (the U.S. tech industry) has way more impact on the economy and society than Hollywood, but Washington, D.C. is full of lawyers (like Hollywood), not engineers (like Silicon Valley). Silicon Valley doesn't need more lawyers, but all the issues--copyright, DRM, visas, education reform, R&D tax credit, trade relations, etc.--are part of an interconnected whole. Convincing people in D.C. of that take another generation of politicians.
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