June 25, 2003  ·  Lessig

It was a great day in DC.

Public Knowledge had arranged the meetings, with members and their staff from both sides of Congress, and both sides of the isle. We met with the staffs of Senators Cantwell, McCain and Leahy, then met with Congressman Cannon and Boucher. And — at her request — we met with Congresswoman Bono.

It was a strongly positive meeting with everyone, though of course Congresswoman Bono started most skeptically. By the end, however, she demonstrated a genuine openness to the issue, and a willingness to consider the proposal. It is of course very easy to demonize the otherside. But after listening to her talk about both this and the Sonny Bono Act, her motivations seemed quite genuinely to be about securing to artists continued reward from creativity. Not a bad motivation, all things considered, if we can balance it with protection of the public domain.

Others began closer to where we were, and so we ended even closer to where we wanted them to be. Congressman Boucher agreed to join as a sponsor — so at least three good souls in DC.

The best part, of course, was Congresswoman Lofgren’s press conference, announcing the bill that she and Congressman Doolittle will introduce, and explaining the reasons. She gets it, and she is powerful and right in her explanation. We owe her a great deal.

Indeed, I had that thought about everyone we met today. This was a strange day of feeling Congress sometimes somehow might work. It’s very early, and we have yet to weather the criticism and opposition. And of course, if money lines on this one, we will not prevail. But every, from Members to staff, took this as seriously as anyone could hope. Let’s see what happens.

One point was clear however: The work of the petition was extremely important. At least one Member indicated to me that he/she had been made aware of this issue by someone signing the petition. Another member indicated they had heard from people who had signed the petition. The more of this we can build, the more likely it is that we can build enough support to prevail.

Stay tuned for the next stages. But thanks to Public Knowledge, and the 15k+, who have helped carry this idea one step closer to reality.

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