In late 2011, the Internet community started to stir over a set of legislation that, according to stakeholders, would give copyright holders and the federal government the power to target and take down domain names accused of pirating content with relatively little judicial process. That legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (and its Senate companion the PROTECT IP Act), not only caused commotion among business people and innovators, it triggered movement.
After scores of Internet users opposed the passage of SOPA and PIPA through vocal and technological protest, Congress decided to table the bills for later consideration. But the fact that the bills got so close to becoming law troubled a few Brooklyn Law School students. How could Congress come up with a law so devoid of stakeholder input and so divorced from a meaningful resolution to this common legal problem?
This question got us thinking about the nature of lawmaking as we know it. Rather than litigating or crafting legislation, we thought, can we create technologies that solves legal issues? Are there collaborative mechanisms and discussions that can produce real, tangible solutions? We quickly found support in New York City’s thriving entrepreneurial community, and we ran with it. In April of 2012, with the support of Brooklyn Law’s Incubator & Policy Clinic and several generous sponsors, we proved that the community was ready to hack law.
What We Do
The moniker “Legal Hackers” finds its origins in New York City. But ever since the New York Meetup’s founding in August of 2012, there has been an explosion of Legal Hackers groups around the U.S. and, increasingly, around the world. Take a look at our Chapters page to see if there’s a group near you. These groups meet to discuss important issues, hold hackathons, network, and collaborate. Our community is a thriving global support network with room to grow. Join us!