January 16, 2003  ·  Lessig

So I’ve got to go get onto a plane to go to my least favorite city (DC). My inbox is filling with kind emails from friends. Also with a few of a different flavor. It’s my nature to identify most closely with those of the different flavor. David Gossett at the law firm of Mayer Brown wrote Declan, “Larry lost Eldred, 7-2.” Yes, no matter what is said, that is how I will always view this case. The constitutional question is not even close. To have failed to get the Court to see it is my failing.

It has often been said that movements gain by losing in the Supreme Court. Some feminists say it would have been better to lose Roe, because that would have built a movement in response. I have often wondered whether it would ever be possible to lose a case and yet smell victory in the defeat. I’m not yet convinced it’s possible. But if there is any good that might come from my loss, let it be the anger and passion that now gets to swell against the unchecked power that the Supreme Court has said Congress has. When the Free Software Foundation, Intel, Phillis Schlafly, Milton Friedman, Ronald Coase, Kenneth Arrow, Brewster Kahle, and hundreds of creators and innovators all stand on one side saying, “this makes no sense,” then it makes no sense. Let that be enough to move people to do something about it. Our courts will not.

I will always be grateful to Eric Eldred, and our other plaintiffs, for putting his faith in this case. I will always regret not being able to meet that faith with the success it deserves.

What the Framers of our constitution did is not enough. We must do more.

January 10, 2003  ·  Lessig

Thanks to everyone who responded to my request yesterday. My inbox and comment box are now deluged with fantastic ideas, and I’m now way behind in responding. Please don’t stop with the ideas. I’ll catch up in the replies soon. But thank you. I am astonished by the generosity.

Aaron once wondered what he should do with his life. Option 4 was answer email (3069 in his inbox). This is a worthy discipline for anyone, though we need a norm of slack for email. I’d love a script that posted the number of emails in my inbox and the average time to reply just so I don’t inadvertently insult someone who’s used to conversing with Mitch.

More soon, but thanks again for the help. And to pass the time quickly, I recommend Cory‘s book.

January 9, 2003  ·  Lessig

Cory Doctorow’s brilliant novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, is out today. Buy it early and often. Cory’s book is also the very first to be offered initially both for sale and under a CreativeCommons license. That means you can also download it for free. As Cory describes it,

“The entire text of my novel is available as a free download in a variety of standards-defined formats. No crappy DRM, no teasers, just the whole damned book.”

But as he (and I) expect, once you start the book, you’ll see you want it in its bound form. So again, you might as well buy it too.

Cory has been defending the rights of creators at EFF for sometime now. With this experiment, he is putting his money where his heart is. I’ve had enormous respect for him for a very long time, but I’m quickly discovering new heights of respect.

Congratulations, Cory, on a great novel, made available to the world freely � and with great CC metadata to boot!

Check out the CC Weblog later today for an interview with Cory about the novel, and his ideas about licensing.

January 9, 2003  ·  Lessig

So I wandered over to Senator Edwards’ website, and was impressed to see an online donation tool. So I tried it out. It told me my card was declined. I tried another card. It too was declined. Both cards are fine, so I figured there must be a problem with the routine. And so I searched the site for an email addres–any email address at all–to tell them something is wrong with the site. Result? None. Click “Contact Us” and you’re given a mailing address in North Carolina and a telephone number.

Oh well. Still waiting for the internet candidate.

January 9, 2003  ·  Lessig

I’ve been hiding away in Japan working on a book that’s tentatively titled “Free Culture”–”free” as in the verb. I’d be grateful for any help with two questions that are continued below.

(1) Seeking an analogy: I’d love to find an example from popular culture (e.g., at TV show, or famous movie, or cartoon) that would be a useful analogy for an idea that is hard to get across. Here’s the hard-to-get-across version: I’m trying to give people a sense of how the reach of copyright has changed for totally unintended reasons. Because the internet is a digital network, every action on the network is a copy; because copyright law gets triggered whenever there is a copy, it follows that every action on the network is potentially subject to copyright law.

The analogy would be to a story where some slight technical change happens, and it has a radical change for some unrelated feature. I’ve a vague sense of a batman episode, where the villain drops a chemical into the water and the world changes dramatically. Something like that. I tried an analogy in my last book which is good but old: the framers of the constitution gave Congress power over “interstate commerce,” intending that to leave lots of exclusive legislative jurisdiction to the states; but because the economy has changed, and the range of commerce “in or affecting” interstate commerce has increased, the scope of exclusive jurisdiction in the states has shrunk.

I’d love a sexier example of the same form: technology changes, and the very nature of some unrelated feature changes radically.

(2) copyright law’s effect on weblog space:

I’ve got some nice examples of how copyright law has interacted (to good and bad ends both) with weblog space. But I’d be grateful for any examples of weblog content being restricted or supported by copyright law.

Thanks in advance. You can email me or post below.

January 8, 2003  ·  Lessig

In a second, important defeat for the RIAA, and DMCA-defender types, Johansen was acquitted by a Norwegian court. And as the EFF is nicely publicizing, the principles on which this court in Norway decided the case might be familiar to those who remember our own constitutional tradition. As the chief judge said in reading the verdict, “no one could be convicted of breaking into their own property” and “consumers have rights to legally obtained DVD films ‘even if the films are played in a different way than the makers had foreseen.” The freedom to tinker in Norway is real. So too should it be so here.

January 7, 2003  ·  Lessig

This is a great story of a citizen standing up for his rights against petty fascism. Didn’t hurt that he’s an amazing and famous comedian. Don’t try this without being famous.

January 7, 2003  ·  Lessig

Matt wonders what one does with 100 mbs. Great question. In Korea, where, as I was told, copyright laws are “immature,” they are free to stream TV to their computers. That uses chunks of bandwidth, and creates great new competition for video. (If only we (or Canada) could be “immature” again.)

But remember Mr. Gates’ thought about how much memory a PC would need: 640k. Give us bandwidth, and we’ll find a way to use it.