23 June 2007

Lessig's Evolving Activism

Lawrence Lessig has announced that he's refocusing his activism away from Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to "corruption." By "corruption," he means money's influence on politics (although I'd argue that money doesn't influence politics, people influence politics politicians with money, among other things).

Lessig became well known for his advocacy in the Eldritch Press v. Reno case. I agreed with Lessig that extending copyright terms was "wrong." I disagreed that a court could or should find that the law was illegal or unconstitutional. I fully agreed with Arthur Miller when he said,

''The case has sparked a public discussion that wasn't happening before,'' said Arthur Miller, a Harvard Law School professor who filed a brief at the Federal District Court level opposing Mr. Lessig on behalf of several entertainment companies. ''In a 21st-century environment, do you need a 95-year monopoly to promote the progress of science and the arts or is society better off enriching the public domain earlier? Have we reached the point where we have to be much more sophisticated in calibrating copyright? With the Eldred decision Congress can go back and think about it.''

Congress could, Mr. Miller suggested, consider a compulsory licensing system that would require copyright holders to let people use their work for a set price. Other ideas to increase the public domain include allowing copyrights to lapse on works unless owners make an effort to renew them so people can have access to material that has no commercial value after a short time.
Lessig also set up the Creative Commons non-profit organization which I agree with completely and use.

I wish Lessig the best in his new pursuit. Hopefully, he can come up with smarter solutions than the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

UPDATE: Court clips campaign-finance law

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