In 1998, Disney led an entertainment industry lobbying effort that resulted in the term of copyright being extended by 20 years, even for works that had already been created -- a law with an incoherent basis, given that the US copyright system is constitutionally constrained to passing laws to promote new creative works (giving creators more copyright on works they've already created doesn't get them to make new ones, and it reduces the ability of new artists to remix existing works, the way Disney did with the Grimm's fairy tales). Read the rest
Federalism is hard: to reassure small states that bigger ones won't clobber them and their interests, federalist agreements usually have some kind of non-proportional representation built into their articles, such as a senate or an assembly where it's "one state, one vote" instead of "one person, one vote" -- so each state gets as much say as any other, but the people who live in the bigger states have their votes diluted to a tiny fraction of the influence of the votes of people in the less populous states. Read the rest
The Tor Project's "Ten Principles for User Protection in Hostile States" is both thoughtful and thought-provoking -- it's a list that excites my interest as someone who cares about the use of technology in improving lives and organizing political movements (principle 1 is "Do not rely on the law to protect systems or users" -- a call to technologists -- while number 7 is aimed at companies, "Invest in cryptographic R&D to replace non-cryptographic systems" and principle 2 says "Prepare policy commentary for quick response to crisis," which suggests that the law, while not reliable, can't be ignored); and also as a science fiction writer (check out those tags! "Acausal trade," "Pluralistic singularity" and "Golden path"! Yowza!) Read the rest
In an interview with the WSJ's CIO blog, Lawrence Lessig proposes that the existence of cryptographic tools that allow for "zero-knowledge" data-querying, combined with the potential liability from leaks, will drive companies to retain less data on their customers. Read the rest
He'll be a "referendum candidate": if elected, he'll immediately pass campaign-finance reform, then resign. Read the rest
“Real reform will require changing the way campaigns are funded — moving from large-dollar private funding to small-dollar public funding,” writes professor Lawrence Lessig in a New York Times op-ed today. Basically, what if elections relied more on lots of little contributions from lots of different regular working people, instead of relying on a small number of huge donations from the rich and powerful, or the big and powerful institutions that serve their interests.
Democrats, for example, have pushed for small-dollar public funding through matching systems, like New York City’s. Under a plan by Representative John Sarbanes, Democrat of Maryland, contributions could be matched up to nine to one, for candidates who agree to accept only small donations.
Republicans, too, are increasingly calling for small-dollar funding systems. The legal scholar Richard W. Painter, a former “ethics czar” for President George W. Bush, has proposed a $200 tax rebate to fund small-dollar campaigns. Likewise, Jim Rubens, a candidate in the Republican primary for Senate in New Hampshire last year, proposed a $50 tax rebate to fund congressional campaigns.
Either approach would radically increase the number of funders in campaigns, in that way reducing the concentration of large funders that especially typifies congressional and senatorial campaigns right now.
It's a fascinating, hour-long session in which Snowden articulates the case for blowing the whistle, the structural problems that created mass surveillance, and why it's not sufficient to stop the state from using our data -- we should also limit their ability to collect it. The Slashdot post by The Real Hocus Locus provides good timecode-based links into different parts of the talk. Read the rest
Lawrence Lessig has announced the next step in his campaign against corruption in American politics with the launch of MAYDAY, a Superpac intended to raise enough money through small donations (and, eventually, major ones) to elect a large enough roster of congressmen and senators that they can pass meaningful campaign finance reform, making Superpacs and other perversions of democracy a bad memory.
MAYDAY is trying to raise $1M in the next 30 days, and to build this sum into a "moneybomb" that can be dropped onto the 2016 elections. They're doing it through a Kickstarter-like mechanism, so your pledge only comes out of your bank account if the full amount is raised. They're calling it a moonshot. It's audacious, improbable, and desperately needed. I only wish that I could donate (I'm a foreigner). Tell you what, if you throw in an extra buck for me, I'll add an extra hundred pounds to the UK equivalent when and if it launches. Read the rest
Brian sez, "Lawrence Lessig, former EFF board member, chair of the Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University, founder of the Center for Internet and Society, founding board member of Creative Commons, and former board member of the Free Software Foundation is taking on a new project -- walking across New Hampshire.
"The idea is to raise awareness of the massive amount of political corruption in the American democratic system, and make it the #1 issue in New Hampshire in time for the 2016 Presidential Primaries. This three-minute video (from the guy who did the Windows 8 and Data Caps animations) explains the project, called the New Hampshire Rebellion, in cartoon form."
Aaron's Laws: Law and Justice in a Digital Age
Lawrence Lessig: Director, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics; Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School February 19, 2013 @ 05:00 PM
Harvard Law School will host a public lecture, "Aaron's Laws," by Lawrence Lessig on the occasion of his appointment as the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership.
In the wake of the tragic death of social activist Aaron Swartz, many, including some in Washington, are asking how the law should respond. In this lecture -- radically personal, deeply non-disinterested -- Professor Lessig reflects on the life and work of Aaron Swartz, and how that work might be honored.
Philipp Lenssen sez, "I've set up RootStrike as a minimalist site for easy referencing of root problems in online discussions. Problems -- like the corrupting system of US campaign funding -- which, if solved, would also help us a lot in solving many other problems. The site was inspired by Lawrence Lessig's book Republic, Lost, and many other sources and people." Read the rest