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4. Copyright reform
Shortly after the 2012 election, a memo on copyright floated by the conservative Republican Study Committee caused quite a ruckus. The RSC responded by withdrawing the memo and even firing the staffer who wrote it. That was a mistake. Copyright reform is an issue that has the potential to galvanize lots of young people, many of whom download content on the Internet and don’t want to face onerous penalties for it. Just a couple months after the RSC briefly showed some courage and then walked it back, the programmer and copyright reform/open access activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide after being targeted aggressively by federal prosecutors for his alleged attempts to download a large amount of academic journal content to provide for free online. The case has galvanized support for an Aaron’s Law that appears to break the mold of bad laws named after dead people. It would stop terms of service violations from automatically being crimes. His death is the latest chapter in the battle being waged by the federal government to control the Internet. Proposed anti-piracy laws in the last few years, meanwhile, were scuttled by a massive online response that swayed Republicans and Democrats. Republicans, who are much further from anti-copyright reform Hollywood than Democrats, ought to build on that momentum. They could help secure a free internet while securing a larger portion of the youth vote.