October 16, 2008  ·  Lessig

Here’s what I was instructed to spam my friends with by the ever-vigilant Change Congress staff. I’m spamming my blog readers instead:

Dear Friends,

My organization needs your help.

Change Congress is asking candidates for Congress and current members of Congress, their stance on key reform issues from earmark reform to taking money from lobbyists and PACs. The goal is to provide a user-friendly map of where our politicians are when it comes to these key reform issues.

We’ve setup two ways people like you can help with our new iPledge Project:

1. Pester Your member of Congress:
Simply by going to the website below you can actually find your member of Congress as well as candidates in your district/state and drop them an email, letter or a phone call asking them to tell us where they stand on our issues. We provide scripts and all you have to do is press SEND.


2. TAG a politician
Stumble upon an article or press release where your member of Congress says they support earmark reform? We’re asking folks to attach these articles to the individual webpages of each politician by “TAGGING” it. This will let the community see what each politician has stated publicly on each of these key issues.


We’ll be meeting at our offices every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening through October between 4PM – 7PM. Please join us for drinks, snacks, and laptops!

Change Congress
543 Howard Street (btween 1st and 2nd)
5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105

The future of democracy will not simply rely on grassroots but also on the “netroots” — bands of internet users sharing and creating information with each other through websites.

I hope you can help!

Thanks so much,

October 16, 2008  ·  Lessig

As reported in Politico, Grover Norquist has joined the Open Debate Coalition.

“I’m happy to join the Open Debate Coalition in calling for dismantling the Commission or fundamentally reforming it so it is accountable to one constituency only: the public.”

This now is the unavoidable goal: “dismantling the Commission.” The most astonishing thing about this process has been the totally non-responsive “Commission on Presidential Debates.” I could get top people from both campaigns to respond almost immediately to the requests we made. But the Executive Director of the Commission, Janet Brown, didn’t have time for even the courtesy of a response to an email.

Enough of that, and enough of them. Join us now in a call that the Commission formally release the debates to the public. Either ping the Executive Director or sign-up at OpenDebateCoalition.org. Join us later to help remake this Commission.

October 15, 2008  ·  Lessig

Chris Soghoian of Berkman has a nice post about McCain/Palin’s call on YouTube to review takedowns from campaigns before taking them down. He criticizes it as “special rules.”

True enough, it is a special rule. But isn’t it appropriate? For here’s the new game for politics in the YouTube age: complain enough to get an account shut down (according to YouTube testimony, 3 complaints gets an account shut down (pg 17 near the bottom), and ideally, do it at the critical time just before an election.

Of course, no one should be subject to this arbitrary game. But especially a campaign. Let’s start here and begin to build out from a clear example of bad incentives.

October 13, 2008  ·  Lessig


The McCain/Palin campaign has written a fantastic letter to YouTube demanding that they start getting real about the response they’re giving to notice and take-down demands of material that “are clearly privileged under the fair use doctrine.” Here is the letter. Bravo to the campaign.

October 13, 2008  ·  Lessig

Everyone and anyone is invited to the book release party hosted by the Stanford Law School for Lawrence Lessig’s new book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.

When: Wed Oct 29, 2008
Where: W Hotel SF – 181 Third Street, SF

Free food and drinks for everyone.

Reception is at 6:30pm
Program is at 7pm.

Contact Elaine Adolfo at a2lessig@pobox.com with any questions.

October 11, 2008  ·  Lessig

From CBS:

Some of the questioners said they were scared of an Obama presidency, and one woman said she couldn’t trust Obama because “he’s an Arab.”

McCain shook his head. “No ma’am, he’s a decent family man, a citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

October 10, 2008  ·  Lessig

Now that both campaigns have signed on, we’ve focused the call for open debates to try to get some real progress. The new letter is below. Meanwhile, please sign up below to support the call for “open debates.” (The original letter to McCain and Obama is here.)

Join The Open Debate Movement – Sign Up Here

Open Debate Coalition

Dear Senator McCain and Senator Obama,

Thank you for your href="http://lessig.org/blog/2008/10/obama_reaffirms_support_for_op.html">recent
affirming our coalition’s href="http://lessig.org/blog/2008/09/free_debates_round_two.html">open debate principles,
designed to make this year’s presidential debates more “of the people” than
ever before. As we approach the final debate on October 15, we ask you to proactively
implement such principles right away.

The closed nature of the recent debates has been universally criticized. The
editors of Politico href="http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=DD42EB55-18FE-70B2-A8F5A91C92F31716http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=DD42EB55-18FE-70B2-A8F5A91C92F31716">wrote,
“The presidential debate commission’s rules are a scandal” resulting in “a
format designed to limit improvisation, intellectual engagement, and
truth-telling.” 83% of Obama supporters and 75% of McCain supporters style='mso-field-code:"HYPERLINK 022http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/citizens-panel-concerned_b_132871.html022 \t 022_blank022"'> class=MsoHyperlink>agree that tough follow-up questions were
lacking. Even Saturday Night Live spoofed the href="http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/vp-debate-open-palin-biden/727421/">lack
of follow-up questions in the debates, and the href="http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/clips/update-thursday-debate-open/742065/">watered-down
“town hall” questions chosen.

Therefore, we ask you to jointly announce the following in advance of the
October 15 debate:

1) style='font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>      That
the debate moderator has broad discretion to ask follow-up questions after a
candidate’s answer, so the public can be fully informed about specific

2) style='font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>      That
after a “town hall” debate full of questions handpicked by the moderator, none
of which were outside-the-box, you will allow Bob Schieffer to ask some
Internet questions voted on by the public in the fashion href="http://lessig.org/blog/2008/09/free_debates_round_two.html">outlined in
our previous letter – which you agreed to. href="http://www.communitycounts.us/">Existing href="http://moderator.appspot.com/#e%253Dagltb2RlcmF0b3JyDQsSBlNlcmllcxjvAQw">technology
will make this easy.

3) style='font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>      That,
as a stipulation of the next debate, the media pool must release all 2008
debate footage into the public domain – as you agreed would be in the
public interest. href="http://www.cnn.com/POLITICS/blogs/politicalticker/2007/05/cnn-presidential-debate-footage.html">CNN,
ABC, and href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20114724/">NBC agreed to release video
rights during the primary, and href="http://www.broadcastingcable.com/index.asp?layout=article&articleid=CA6599759">CBS
agreed more recently. But Fox href="http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/10/mccains-dispute.html">threatened
Senator McCain for using a debate clip during the primary, and href="http://washingtonindependent.com/9668/nbc-kills-obama-youtube-hit">NBC invoked
copyright law against Senator Obama to stifle political speech recently. The
public deserves to know debate video can be reused without fear of breaking the

4) style='font:7.0pt "Times New Roman"'>      That
you agree to work with the Open Debate Coalition after the election to reform
or create an alternative to the Commission on Presidential Debates, so that the
debate process is transparent and accountable to the public. Despite both of
your agreement with the open debate principles, the Commission did nothing to
implement them – or even to engage in dialogue about potential
implementation. Also, the “ href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2008/10/mccain_obama_deal_puts_limits.html">31-page
memo of understanding” with debate rules is nowhere on the Commission’s
website, and has not been turned over despite requests.

The signers of this letter don’t agree on every political issue. But we do
agree that in order for Americans to make the best decision for president, we
need open debates that are “of the people” in the ways described above. You
have the power to make that happen, and we ask you to do so.

Thank you for your willingness to take these ideas to heart. If you have any
questions, please contact: OpenDebateCoalition@gmail.com


Lawrence Lessig; Professor, Stanford Law School, Founder, href="http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu">Center for Internet and Society

Ellen Miller; Executive Director, Sunlight

Craig Newmark; Founder, Craigslist

Jimmy Wales; Founder, Wikipedia

Glenn Reynolds; Professor, University of Tennessee Law, and founder of Instapundit.com blog

Aaron Swartz;   Founder, href="http://www.reddit.com/">Reddit

Patrick Ruffini; Republican consultant, Former Republican National Committee
eCampaign Director, and a blogger at TheNextRight.com

Mindy Finn; Republican strategist, former Mitt Romney Online Director, and blogger at TheNextRight.com

Eli Pariser; Executive Director, MoveOn.org
Political Action

Mike Krempasky; Co-Founder of RedState.com

Adam Green; Director of Strategic Campaigns, MoveOn.org
Political Action

Arianna Huffington; Founder, HuffingtonPost.com

Markos Moulitsas; Founder, DailyKos.com

Roger L. Simon, CEO, Pajamas Media

Eric Burns; President, Media Matters
for America

David Kralik; Director of Internet Strategy, Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions

Carl Pope; Executive Director, Sierra Club

John Amato; Founder of Crooksandliars.com

K. Daniel Glover, Executive Producer, href="http://www.eyeblast.tv/public/default.aspx">Media Research Center’s
Eyeblast.tv, and of AirCongress

Jon Henke; New media consultant (including
for Fred Thompson, George Allen, Senate Republican Caucus) and a blogger at href="http://www.thenextright.com/">TheNextRight.com

Matt Stoller; Founder/Editor, OpenLeft.com

James Rucker; Executive Director, ColorOfChange.org

Andrew Rasiej; Personal
Democracy Forum
and TechPresident.com

Micah Sifry; Personal Democracy
and TechPresident.com

William Mitchell; Professor, MIT

Josh Silver; Executive Director, Free Press

Carl Malamud; Founder, Public.Resource.Org

Clay Johnson; Director, Sunlight Labs

Robert Greenwald; President, BraveNewFilms

Kim Gandy; President, National Organization for

Roger Hickey; Co-Director, Campaign for
America’s Future

Billy Hallowell, Director of Content, VoterWatch

David Colarusso; Founder, communityCOUNTS.us