September 15, 2004  ·  Lessig


Robert Greenwald has released the interviews from Outfoxed under a Creative Commons license, inviting others to remix the interviews to tell their own story about Fox. Robert had wanted to release the full film for remix, but fears about enabling the reuse of original Fox materials got that idea stopped. But you can download and rework the interviews from here. A bittorrent file is available here from Torrentocracy. See the blog entry there, and here.

September 13, 2004  ·  Lessig

One of the exciting thing about the early days of the Democratic primary was that there was at least some debate about whether the Democratic Party would continue to be led by IP extremists. Some of the worst in IP came, after all, from the Clinton administration. Reflecting on that, many were hopeful we’d see some new thinking. Many of the most passionate Deaniacs were eager to see new thinking on this issue. Senator Edwards addressed some of this on this blog.

Word now is that Bruce Lehman, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce, and Commissioner of Patents, is spreading the word that he is running IP policy on the Kerry campaign. In the scheme of extremists, few are more extreme. Of all the government “Czars” in our form of government, he proved himself to be most to be feared.

Yet another bit of depressing news, if true, from this extraordinarily important campaign.

September 10, 2004  ·  Lessig

So, shamefully, I’ve contributed to this irrelevant question blog (“Mr. President, how many times have you been arrested?”), but I can’t begin to describe fully how depressing this presidential campaign has been.

Why do we waste attention on these ridiculous questions?

I’m sure Mr. Bush’s record was nothing to be proud of — his drinking problem is well documented, and these things go together. But I’m also sure he is no longer that man — and for anyone who has seen someone overcome that demon, you know the courage this requires. So I really don’t care how many times he was arrested, I don’t care if he used power to escape his obligations in the Reserve — whether he should be our President depends only upon whether the policies he will pursue are good for this nation.

Likewise, re Mr. Kerry: I am sure he demonstrated unimaginable courage in volunteering to serve his country in an unpopular war, and then mustering the courage to articulate brilliantly the reasons why that war was wrong. But we’re not electing a captain for a military unit — if shots are fired, he will follow orders, not give them — and while it would be great if he could find a way to articulate why this war was wrong, the presidency is not a reward for great Senate testimony. Whether he should be our President depends upon whether the policies he will pursue are good for the nation.

So why can’t we actually talk about the conflict in these policies? I’m confident about that choice, but I would love my view to be challenged by real arguments, and a focus on real issues. CBS almost seems proud of their idiotic story. Shame on CBS. Shame on us.

September 9, 2004  ·  Lessig

I continue to be astonished at how far PFF has moved from its roots. The group has issued a press release demanding Supreme Court review of Grokster, buttressed with supporting blog entries by Bill Adkinson and a “grid” by Solveig Singleton with a six (yes, count them, six, with some including italics) factor test that courts are to apply to decide whether a technology is legal or not.

I can well understand New Dealers racing to craft multifactored tests to regulate innovation. But I thought the whole point of the conservative (economic) movement was to teach us how harmful such regulation was to innovation and growth. Any test that cannot be applied on summary judgment guarantees that federal judges will be forced into a complex balancing to decide which innovation should be allowed. And thus, any industry threatened with competition can then use the courts to extort from these new competitors payment before they are permitted to compete. That is precisely what Valenti says the VCR case was about. He didn’t want to stop the VCR, he tell us. He wanted only to force VCR manufacturers to pay for the right to sell consumers VCRs.

Courts, and lawyers, have ruled Silicon Valley long enough. The great hope of the Grokster opinion was that it would return us to the time when entrepreneurs could invent without seeking a permission slip from a federal court (to borrow from the President) . It is simply bizarre to see PFF now call for a return to the days of industrial policy regulated by federal judges. Especially bizarre when you consider how taxing this policy will be to many of the “supporters” of PFF. Many (e.g., Apple, Microsoft, Intel), but alas not all (EMI, Vivendi, BMG). Thus the danger of putting principle up for bid.

September 9, 2004  ·  Lessig

So ordered the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Sampling, we’re told, is piracy. But be certain to see the 19 footnotes in this relatively brief opinion, or the 28 separate quotes the opinion includes from other peoples work. I assume the court got a license for those.

Now that’s not quite fair. The court’s decision turns upon its “literal” reading of the sound recording statute. The sound recording statute has no de minimis exceptions, the court held. So while you are free to copy three notes from a musical composition, you can’t copy the same three notes from a recording. So copying (so long as de minimis) is fine; cut & paste is not. It is a “bright-line” rule the Court has crafted: Ask permission first. (And don’t worry, they might have added. It’s simple.)

So once again: life in the analog world is freer than life in the digital world. You can do it, just don’t use technology to do it — unless, of course, your lawyer has spoken to their lawyer.

September 5, 2004  ·  Lessig

That‘s certainly how the GOP convention seemed to me, though maybe I’m just too “sensitive.” But this certainly was a different convention from the GOP convention at which I was a member of the Pennsylvania delegation (indeed, the youngest member of any delegation) in 1980. That the was the Party of Jack Kemp. This is the Party of Zel Miller (!).