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Lunchtime listen: Lawrence Lessig’s Furman lecture titled “Aaron’s Laws: Law and Justice in a Digital Age.”
This will be well worth your time! Listen, grok, act!
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, Lawrence Lessig marked his appointment as Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School with a lecture titled “Aaron’s Laws: Law and Justice in a Digital Age.” The lecture honored the memory and work of Aaron Swartz, the programmer and activist who took his own life on Jan. 11, 2013 at the age of 26. Swartz spent the last two years fighting federal charges that he violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
On his blog, Lessig wrote, “When a law professor is given a “chair” s/he gives a lecture in honor of the honor. … After Aaron’s death, I asked the Dean to let me reschedule the lecture. But after some more thought, I’ve decided to make the lecture about Aaron, and about how we need to honor his work.”
The “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act” (H.R. 801) back and forth between bill sponsor Representative John Conyers and bill opponent Lawrence Lessig continues … LESSIG – A Reply to Representative Conyers, 03.09.2009:
“This bill is nothing more than a “publishers’ protection act.” It is an awful step backwards for science — as 33 Nobel Prize winners, the current and former head of the NIH, the American Library Association, and the Alliance for Taxpayer Access have all said. And Mr. Conyers knows this. Practically the identical bill was introduced in the last Congress. Mr. Conyers’ committee held hearings on that bill. The “open access” community rallied to demonstrate that this publishers’ bill was bad for science. Even some of the cosponsors of the bill admitted the bill was flawed. Yet after that full and fair hearing on this flawed bill, like Jason in Friday the 13th, the bill returned — unchanged, as if nothing in the hundreds of reasons for why this bill was flawed mattered to the sponsors…”
This was a really interesting post that I found on the Sunlight Foundation’s Sun Spots blog:
“Earlier today, Lawrence Lessig spoke about Change Congress at the Free Press’ fourth annual National Conference for Media Reform, being held this year in Minneapolis. As always, Larry gave a killer speech. You can watch an earlier speech he gave at the National Press Club in March when he launched Change Congress here.”
“Not to be missed: In the current edition of The Nation, Christopher Hayes, the magazine’s Washington editor, profiles Larry and Change Congress. It’s an extensive profile and a good read. …Cory Doctorow called the profile "fantastic." Hayes writes "playing David to various Goliaths (armed with a laptop as slingshot) is the defining narrative of Lessig’s career." If you’re a Lessig fan, it’s a must read. If you’re unfamiliar with this bona fide and burgeoning cult hero, check it out…And join the revolution!”
Here is a super way to spend your next free lunch hour: watch and listen to Lawrence Lessig give one of his fantastic presentations:
- Changing Congress: Lessons Learned by a Copyright Activist, Lawrence Lessig. 4/2/2008, UCSB. [streaming video, about 1 hour].
He talks about history, politics, technology, copyright, and much more.
When Lessig found that he could not get reasonable changes to copyright law (even the late, eminent economist Milton Friedman said that the importance of stopping excessive copyright extensions was a “no brainer”), he realized there were bigger problems to confront. If Congress can’t make the right decision when the problems are easy, how will it make the right decisions when the problems are difficult?
Lessig’s new organization is Change-Congress. It is attempting to build tools that will help citizens (“in our pajamas,” as Lessig says) create basic reforms in how our government functions. The Change-Congress home page features an interactive map created with data from the Federal Elections Commission and GovTrack.us and Google maps. The goal of the organization is to create tools that both candidates and citizens can use to pledge their support for basic changes to reduce the distorting influence of money in Washington.
Lessig is a professor at Stanford Law School, the founder of Creative Commons and the author of three very important books: Code, The Future of Ideas, and Free culture : how big media uses technology and the law to lock down culture and control creativity.
There are more videos from Change-Congress at: change-congress.blip.tv
If this is the first time you’ve seen one of Lessig’s presentations, you are in for a treat. A colleague of mine called it “mesmerizing.” There is a bit more about Lessig’s presentation style in an analysis of it by Chris Tunnell on Lessig’s blog: A physicist on the “Lessig style”, by Chris Tunnell, April 28, 2008.
The website provides a venue for data on earmarks, campaign financing, etc. and advocates an end to corporate and private interests. It organizes citizens to push candidates to make four commitments: No money from lobbyists or PACs, vote to end earmarks, support publicly-financed campaigns, and support reform to increase Congressional transparency.
Change-Congress.org has ambitious goals, that’s for sure. Will it work? Greater transparency is needed, and this initiative will certainly help in that effort. But can “big money” every truly go away? Nevertheless, it is a noble effort, and I urge you to join their cause, take the pledge, and volunteer your efforts in contacting candidates to take the pledge!