Geeks form political action committee

It may sound like an Apple product, but the IPac is a nonpartisan group that wants to fight the expansion of copyright law.

Geeks now have a political action committee of their own.

Three technology activists, including a Google product manager and an organizer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have formed a political action committee that aims to help pro-technology politicians and defeat the ones who want to expand copyright law.

Called IPac, the group is already planning to help out Democrat Brad Carson, who's in a tough race for the U.S. Senate in Oklahoma.

"Our main target is going to be the 2006 election, but during this election cycle, a few good opportunities came up," said IPac's Ren Bucholz, who manages EFF's grassroots activism network. In the last few years, Congress has been increasingly active on intellectual-property topics and is currently considering controversial bills to target file-trading users and products that could "induce" someone to violate copyright law.

Bucholz says that Carson has signed IPac's statement of principles, which says that "new intellectual-property laws threaten to stifle...freedoms and restrict public participation in science, art and political discourse." Carson is neck and neck with Republican Tom Coburn in a race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Don Nickles.

IPac's other organizers are David Alpert, a "technical evangelism manager" at Google and host of Drinking Liberally, which is described on its Web site as an "informal, inclusive weekly Democratic drinking club," and Matt Stoller, a Washington, D.C.-based political consultant who helped organize blogger credentials at the Democratic National Convention. All three founders say their employers are not affiliated with IPac.

Will Rodger, director of public policy at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, applauded the idea of IPac. (CCIA runs a modest political action committee of its own.)

"Assuming that people aren't going to contribute to ours first, this looks like a great idea," Rodger said. "There are few issues of greater importance to the tech industry. But they're going to have to convince people on an issue that's really hard to understand."

Even though not one of the three organizers is a Republican, IPac plans to take a kind of free-market, libertarian view and be nonpartisan, its founders say. Its Web site, which asks visitors for contributions, endorses three Democrats and three Republicans.