Lessig’s New Direction

Lessig Blog

Some interesting news was brought to my attention this morning, via Wes Fryer, that Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig will be shifting his focus from academic work, to what he calls the “corruption” of the political process. He states that “our government can’t understand basic facts when strong interests have an interest in its misunderstanding.” It became clear to me that this was no 180 degree turn for Lessig, but in fact directly related to his work on copyright and IP issues. He sees the constant renewal of certain copyright holdings (can you say Mickey Mouse?) as, to put it bluntly, idiocy.

Lessig’s post about his reason’s for tackling these issues is a must read. He emphasizes that corruption is in quotes when he talks about the political process. However, he is serious in changing the influence money has on the workings of congress.

“And so an economy of influence bends public policy away from sense, always to dollars.”

He also states that we should be aware of the “corruption of professions”, implying that it perpetuates our political corruption. He is tired of “whining” about it and will work for the next ten years in this new direction. He says he realistically feels that the problem will still be there at the end of ten years’ time, but he will at least make an attempt.

He is also offering up his considerable volume of writings to ccMixter, the Creative Commons sponsored site that makes remixes completely legal. This is all a fascinating development from one of the great minds in academia, and the optimist in me thinks he might well suceed.

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One Response

  1. Since Lessig is a lawyer and has an extensive legal background, I’m sure he’ll be reading about, considering and eventually advocating for legal changes in our system. I wonder if any of these will be proposed Constitutional changes. I do think our Constitution has proven to be a remarkably flexible document to use as the foundation of our nation, but I also agree with those who point out that we are in need of continued improvement. I definitely think the founders of our country did NOT envision or desire to enable a system which permits special interests to wield such powerful influence, particularly via money in generally hidden, non-transparent ways. I would suspect campaign finance reform will be an issue Lessig might address in this regard, though he does not specifically mention it.

    Lessig was the first professor I ever found online who is an avid blogger, and reading his work has both shaped my own perceptions about many things as well as served as a model for me in my own blogging. I hope (and suspect) he’ll continue the same conversational dialog on his blog about his work and the issue’s he’s both thinking about and working on. The “virtual window into his mind” which his blog provides is intellectually stimulating and refreshing. I’m also hopeful he’ll be able to make some constructive, positive contributions to our political process. We certainly need people with the knowledge, expertise, and passion that he will bring to the table working for the common good in government, and not just the “special interests.”

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