But a few people I talked to last week pointed out something that should make California just a little less smug: Silicon Valley doesn’t understand how Congress works, either. And it needs to. “In the startup community, they’re on an emotional high from having killed SOPA and PIPA,” says Garrett Johnson, referring to legislation that would have tightened controls against digital piracy. “One thing they don’t understand is that it’s relatively easy to kill legislation. It’s harder to pass a bill.” Johnson worked as a staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before moving out to California to co-found SendHub, which makes Web and mobile business phone systems.
Chaffetz identifies the same problem. He’s been talking to tech firms to figure out how to take what he calls the “SOPA formula”—channeling outrage online to direct it at policy—to get some legislation passed. He mentions reforming royalty structures for Internet radio, for example, to let tech firms compete with traditional broadcasters.