After the Battle Against SOPA—What’s Next?

Lawrence Lessig in The Nation:

6a00d8341c562c53ef0133f4923c23970b-800wiJanuary 18, 2012, could prove to be an incredibly important day, and not just for copyright policy or the Internet. On that day, two critically important things happened. First, with its 6-2 decision in Golan v. Holder, the Supreme Court shut the door, finally and firmly, on any opportunity to meaningfully challenge a copyright statute constitutionally. Second, millions from the Internet opened the door, powerfully if briefly, on the powers that dominate policymaking in Washington, and effectively stopped Hollywood’s latest outrage to address “piracy”—a k a the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Protect IP Act (PIPA).

The constitutional battle began over a decade ago. Conservatives on the Supreme Court had long rumbled about the need to respect the “original intent” of the “framers” of our Constitution by enforcing the affirmative limits of the Constitution. In 1995, a 5-4 Court decision shocked conventional wisdom by striking a law regulating commerce because, as the Court found, it exceeded those original limits. Three years later, the Court did the same, this time with a law regulating violence against women. The Court seemed eager to read the Constitution the way the framers wrote it, regardless of how the current Congress read it.

So beginning in 1999, copyright activists started to ask the Court to apply the same reasoning to copyright law.

More here.