Monday, March 02, 2009

New York Times interview with Lawrence Lessig

Thought some of my readers would be interested in this interview with Lawrence Lessig which appeared in the New York Times:

Lawrence Lessig Answers Your Questions on Copyright, Corruption, and Congress
By Stephen J. Dubner

Last week we solicited your questions for Stanford Law School Professor (and open-source hero, and anti-corruption leader) Lawrence Lessig....

You asked good questions about copyright, corruption, and other topics, and Lessig responded with equally thoughtful answers, including such tasty pieces of advice as:

"Never underestimate the importance of naïveté in launching critical political reform".


"If the Internet has taught us anything, it is that you can always get people to do what they already want to do".

Stephen Colbert inadvertently tested out the latter statement last month, when he explicitly told viewers to not remix his interview with Lessig, which focused on copyright. (Lessig said he was fine with it.)

Videos like this one popped up on YouTube shortly thereafter: [video link omitted]

Thanks to all of you for your questions and to Lessig for his answers.


You’ve spent most of your life studying, researching, and teaching about “copyright in the digital age.” “Political corruption” strikes me as a radically different field from that. What was your motivation for switching fields of study? Or are these areas more related than they appear on the surface?
– Sam Carter


A decade’s work against IP extremism taught me two things: first, that people — teachers, parents, archivists, entrepreneurs, and many many artists — recognized the insanity in the current war; and second, that members of Congress didn’t even understand the issue. Some say that’s because they’re clueless. I don’t think that’s right. Instead, I believe Congress doesn’t get it because it cares less about making sense of copyright policy and more about raising dollars for political campaigns. When you recognize (as it took me way too long to recognize) that this is the same in a wide range of public policy contexts, including some of the most important (e.g., global warming), you realize the root cause here — corruption — is the problem that has to be addressed.
Complete article

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