December 21, 2002  ·  Lessig

The battle to build and keep broadband neutral is an important issue to me. I go a couple rounds on the FT.COM site about it here. Maybe it is just me, but these debates are never satisfying. The thrust of Tom Hazlett’s final response is that cable is much better than DSL, so don’t regulate cable. On cable, see the next post. But even ignoring the logic of the claim, we should not forget: However good cable is, does it begin to match the broadband options available elsewhere. Again, here in Japan: 100 mbs for $50 a month; 12 mbs for about half that. What cable company comes even close to that?

December 20, 2002  ·  Lessig

Matt Croydon wonders about how CC licenses will interact with software. In a careless earlier version of this, I said they won’t. Sam Ruby suggests the most I could mean by that is that our energy will be directed elsewhere. Indeed, that’s the most I mean. We share RMS’s concern that there is a proliferation of licenses in software. And our view was that there was a dearth for other creative content. Thus we start outside the software world. But creative reuse of creative content is what CC is all about. My apologies for any confusion.

December 20, 2002  ·  Lessig

After some questions by readers, and suggestions by friends, Jason Schultz has produced his final report about the effect of invalidating the 1976 Copyright Act’s extension of copyrights. Bottom line: more support for the public domain.

December 20, 2002  ·  Lessig

Jabber has written a powerful piece about the threat that AOL’s patent covering IM technology creates for innovation in the IM market. Even if AOL does not enforce the patent, as Jabber argues, the threat that it may makes is much less likely that innovators will invest time to develop IM technology. AOL’s sword will be enough to keep innovation away, Jabber says.

These issues are complex, but this case does lots to highlight just what wrong about the software patent business. Does anyone really believe that there was inadequate incentives to be inventing in this area? Was there really a need for a government monopoly to help spur innovation? And even if there is, does a 20 year monopoly over something as fundamental as IM make sense to anyone?

Vardi and his son were brilliant inventors. They deserve all the credit in the world. And it is exactly the wrong (since self-defeating) response to now attack AOL: They are a business; the managers are hired to make money; they will make money however they can given the rules as they are.

The appropriate response is to attack the system. It is four years since a court held that software and business methods were patentable. What exactly have we done since then to get legislators to fix this mess?

December 19, 2002  ·  Lessig

So just back to Japan after a quick trip to San Francisco to help many many extraordinary people launch Creative Commons. The event was fantastic, especially the Flash that explains our Licensing Project. Watch the flash, and check out the site. We are eager for feedback, and for ideas about where to go next.

I can’t begin to describe how grateful I am to everyone who made this happen. I am especially grateful to creators who have run with the licenses right away—heroes such as Cory Doctorow (who will be releasing under a CC license the entire text of his amazing book, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom as a free, freely redistributable e-book on January 9th. But buy the book as a present. It is the best novel I’ve read in years), and Peter Wayner (who has licensed his Free for All under a CC license), and Tim O’Reilly (the first adopter of the “Founders’ Copyright”).

It is no accident that those who understand this are those closest to technology. Our challenge will be to find ways to explain it so other creators get it as well. If you have ideas, or ideas for new projects, please let us know. Our single, overarching aim: build the public domain, by building projects that expand the range of creative work available for others to build upon.

Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who helped make this happen. And check on this channel for more news as the project develops.

December 12, 2002  ·  Lessig

After many hours with lawyers, and many productive hours with tech-types, and lots of imagination by many, an idea first suggested by Hal Abelson and Eric Eldred will come to life on Monday, December 16: Creative Commons. Come see (though RSVP because we’re filling fast) and celebrate. ‘Tis the season to be giving, and this will be a great gift to the Commons.

December 12, 2002  ·  Lessig

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So the price war for broadband continues here in Japan. This snippet, shot from Jiro Kokuryo’s phone, tells it all. NTT now offers 12 mbs for about $20/month. And 100 mbs (fiber) for $46/month. According to LowerMyBills.com, I can get 1.5 mbs for $50/month in San Francisco. Where is war when you need it?

December 10, 2002  ·  Lessig

I received an email from Eben Moglen today. Eben’s been donating his time and legal talent to the Free Software Foundation for a very long time. (He, unlike some of us, is a real coder as well as legaloid, and he’s about the most impressive and passionate speaker I’ve ever seen).

Eben’s missive was a request for money for the Free Software Foundation. He has put his money where his missive is. Though he has given many times this amount in his own time, he wrote a check this month to FSF for $20,000.

At about the same time I heard about that, I receive a notice from the treasurer of the Eldred Legal Defense Fund (which does not need money at the moment), that we had received an extremely large contribution from “someone in Japan.” I tracked it down, and discovered that the incredibly talented Mr. Yamagata, who has translated tons of great stuff, and also has translated my books, has a policy of giving “50% of the money [he] earns from free-software related translation to free-software related projects.”

And on the very same day I learned about this gift from Yamagata, I learned of the work of Luke Francl to take a bit from my OSCON speech and try to do some good with it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching, and tinkering, in this web-log space, it is that the many tiny brushstrokes of thousands paints more and more powerfully than the blast of even the most important and powerful papers. (This is especially true here in Japan, as innovators such as Joi have tried to show.)

But just as these words are important to reason, so too is the support of right-acting organizations important to getting good done. Social entrepreneur Henri Poole (another strong FSF supporter) has built a powerful tool to translate reputation into support. (See the description here.) But whether you use his tools or not, it is at this time of the year when donations are crucial.

As I indicate on my Affero page, I count FSF and EFF as the two key players to support. But whether these two, or two others, do something now. If not as much as Eben, or as principled as Hiroo, then at least enough to show that reason has support.