Lawrence Lessig is (probably) running for President of the United States. But he only wants to be President long enough to pass the Citizen Equality Act, which includes publicly funded elections, an end to gerrymandering, online voter registration, and making election day a national holiday. After that, he'll resign. [more inside]
The Mayday SuperPAC. Yesterday Lawrence Lessig announced the launch of the Mayday SuperPAC, "The SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs." Its ultimate goal is to achieve constitutional campaign finance reform. They've set out specific funding goals--$1 million in 30 days, $5 million in the next 30--which will be matched by Lessig and other (currently) anonymous funders once achieved. Their initial goal is to influence races in five House districts and if successful they hope to expand in 2016.
"[T]he corrupting influence of money is the first problem facing this nation. That unless we solve this problem, we won’t solve anything else... The Framers, Lessig says, had just one kind of dependence in mind for members of Congress: a dependence on the people. He quotes The Federalist (the then-anonymous essays by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay that are often used as a contemporary account of the Framers’ intentions) to make this point: number 52 describes the House of Representatives as that “branch of the federal government which ought to be dependent on the people alone” (emphasis added). But in the last two decades, Lessig writes, members of Congress have developed a fearsome dependency: campaign cash. The total amount spent on campaigns by all candidates for Congress in 2010 was $1.8 billion. Fundraising has become a way of life..." (via 3 Quarks Daily)
Lawrence Lessig, erstwhile Free Culture advocate now given to fighting corruption on a larger scale, delivers a commencement address. "There is no one in the criminal justice system who believes that system works well. There is no one in housing law who believes this is what law was meant to be. In contracts, you read about disputes involving tens, maybe a hundred dollars. The disputes of ordinary people. These disputes are not for the courts any more. Or if they are, they are for courts that are an embarrassment to the ideals of justice from our tradition. The law of real people doesn’t work, even if the law of corporations does."
How Money Corrupts Congress (previously) - John Baez sez: "It's easy to get distracted in a thicket of issues. Thoreau said 'There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.' But what's the root? Watch this video for Lawrence Lessig's answer."
"The Architecture of Access to Scientific Information: Just How Badly We Have Messed This Up" Lawrence Lessig speaking at CERN on April 18, 2011. Long (~50 min), but wonderful and totally worth it (and the second half is about Youtube and remix culture).
Against Transparency. "How could anyone be against transparency? Its virtues and its utilities seem so crushingly obvious. But I have increasingly come to worry that there is an error at the core of this unquestioned goodness. We are not thinking critically enough about where and when transparency works, and where and when it may lead to confusion, or to worse. And I fear that the inevitable success of this movement--if pursued alone, without any sensitivity to the full complexity of the idea of perfect openness--will inspire not reform, but disgust. The 'naked transparency movement,' as I will call it here, is not going to inspire change. It will simply push any faith in our political system over the cliff." [Via]
In trademark style, Lawrence Lessig today announced the creation of a congressional exploratory committee. If in the next few days he decides to officially enter the race, he'll be running in the special election on April 8th to fill the CA-12 seat recently vacated by the death of Tom Lantos. A run by Lessig would likely be seen as a new front the the technocratic, post-partisan movement Barack Obama is attempting to catalyze; Lessig was a colleague of Obama at the University of Chicago law school, helped to draft Obama's technology plan, and is describing his potential run (his first attempt at public office), and the larger Change Congress project he also announced today, as an attempt to save Congress as an institution from the corrupting influence of money. [more inside]
20 minutes or so on why I am 4Barack. A very thoughtful and eloquent comparison (transcript) of the core differences between Obama and Clinton - by Creative Commons CEO and Professor Lawrence Lessig.
Lawrence Lessig moves on Lessig has spent the last 10 years fighting for IP reform and open culture, He's decided to focus on fighting what he calls "corruption" (with quotes)... the pernicious effect that moneyed interests have in crafting and controlling public policy.
Finally, I am not (as one friend wrote) "leaving the movement." "The movement" has my loyalty as much today as ever. But I have come to believe that until a more fundamental problem is fixed, "the movement" can't succeed either. Compare: Imagine someone devoted to free culture coming to believe that until free software supports free culture, free culture can't succeed. So he devotes himself to building software. I am someone who believes that a free society -- free of the "corruption" that defines our current society -- is necessary for free culture, and much more. For that reason, I turn my energy elsewhere for now.
In a sardonic new editorial, the Register asks whether the EFF is harming the very causes that it's supposedly fighting for. This isn't coming out of left field. The EFF has lost numerous cases that could have been won, and in doing so is helping to creating precedents that make fights for civil liberties harder to wage.
In Technology Review, Lawrence Lessig and Richard Epstein are debating intellectual property, free software, and digital rights management. Shamelessly lifted, verbatim, from a post by Reason's Jesse Walker
Yahoo Releases a beta tool that searches for Creative Commons content. It even allows you to specify the type of license you're interested in (derivitive works, commercial use). Lawrence Lessig obviously has something to say about it. If nothing else, it will increase awareness of the cause.
How I Lost the Big One Lawrence Lessig on losing Eldred v. Ashcroft: "We had in our Constitution a commitment to free culture. In the case that I fathered, the Supreme Court effectively renounced that commitment. A better lawyer would have made them see differently."
The Supreme Court has ruled, seven to two, that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 is not unconstitutional. The act automatically extended copyright by an additional 20 years, delaying by those two decades the entry of works into the public domain. Lawrence Lessig and others have argued that the Act places unreasonable and unnecessary bounds on the potential of the Internet, as well as effectively rendering unobtainable many works from the early decades of the twentieth century.
Blawgs: Blogs from the legal world. Lessig is not the only lawyer sharing his expertise in the blog format. Blawgs range from individual lawyers (Ernie the Attorney) to entire firms using a collaborative format to focus on a single practice area (such as the Supreme Court). "Almost every law firm is trying to build a knowledge management system for itself to take advantage of the expertise within the firm," Svenson says. "But with blawgs, it happens organically. If you gave your lawyers their own blawgs, pretty soon everyone within the firm could see who knows the most about different topics." Are knowledge management systems feasible or practical yet?
Free Culture (8Mb flash). Lawrence Lessig's keynote speech at this year's OSCON conference is a stirring and effective explanation of how the entertainment industry, with the help of lawmakers, have undermined our fundamental right to create. Lessig asks, what have you personally done to stop them? This 30 minute long flash slideshow (mirror), compiled by Leonard Lin, tells you what happened and what you can do.