• william pixley

    Dear Mr. Lessig,

    I am a writer, political theorist/operative, and businessman from North Carolina. I watched Charlie Rose last night, as I do every night given PBS, the news and C-Span are literally the ONLY television I watch. In the year 2000, ensuing from a 2 year incubation after the impeachment of President Clinton, I sold all my real estate interests and decided to dedicate myself full-time to examinination of the very issue you reference in your new undertaking- ie. the need to remake our broken Federal government. I very much would like to talk with you personally about your project and potentially assisting the incoming Obama administration to such end. I in fact am most interested in setting a time to meet with you personally whenever you can make time.

    In your remarks on Mr. Rose’s show I believe you hit all around the problem, but fail to really pinpoint the truly fundamental issue that infects our body politic. I am presently in the process of completing a book- several actually, looking at this and other matters; but mostly I seek to put these ideas where they can really make a diffrence- ie. DIRECTLY in the political millieu, hopefully Obama White House given the truly remarkable election we have all just experienced. Ideas are critical to change but it is action that ultimately matters most.

    What I want to do regarding this letter is simple- to establish a personal relationship with you to explore how we might work together. Before I send you specific materials I need to know that we have a clear understanding regarding the dissemination of items I seek to share. More directly, I need to try and keep some “control” of the insights I have developed as they are indeed my stock in trade (intellectual property).

    Sir I could not help feeling while watching you last night that we will develop a very close and hopefully important relationship in the days and years ahead. I hope so anyway. What I request is you write me a quick note at the email address provided and let me know where I can begin to send you items related to our mutual interest, and also provide a firm commitment that you will keep our exchanges confidential until agreement is reached regarding further dissemination. I actually tried to get your partner Mr. Trippi to do the same during the Obama campaign but those overtures met with no response. Truly all I seek is a secure place to begin a conversation with both you and Mr. Trippi so you two can evaluate the work/ideas I have developed, and help me determine the best way for me/us to proceed.

    In closing I want to note that as excited as all real patriots are about the election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden, the challenges ahead and work of getting things done will be unduly difficult unless the overall socio-political landscape is shaped to be receptive to change. This is especially true with respect to convincing those from the right side of the political spectrum- the “side” from which I come incidently. I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience to explore how we can work together together to avoid this.

    Truly change has come to America. The question now is what kind of change, and whether or not institutional inertia will retard same. God Bless and please respect the sincerity of the enclosed correspondence.

    Most sincerely,

    William K. Pixley

  • Joseph O’Donnell

    Professor Lessig,
    Are you kidding me? Professor, let me break some hard news to you. US national politicians are power brokers for the special interests that fund them. Obama’s biggest contributors are from wall street. In addition, US politicians are inevitably people with good natural talents for lying, and are supported in their deception work by multi million dollar marketing campaigns and experts. The only thing that will be ‘transformed’, is the same thing that has happened since 1913, the transformation of American freedom to ever greater government bondage.

    If you think FDR or any other politician from either party is any different, please read some articles at:
    http://www.lewrockwell.com

    Sincerely,
    Joseph O’Donnell

  • Nancy

    I was inspired by your discussions with Charlie Rose last night and hope you fare better in your efforts to change Congress than those of us who have been working on this challenge since the late-60′s. Change has been glacial and grudging and, as a result, policies continue to be distorted. Perhaps your use of new technologies and the growing engagement of a young generation will finally crack this nut. With local chapters in over 100 countries, Transparency International has found that the corrosive influence of money on political life plagues countries around the world, stymieing efforts to defeat corruption, which, in turn, perpetuates poverty and disease and undermines environmental protections, equitable and sustainable use of natural resources, national security and public trust. Only by mobilizing the kind of broad public demand Obama has unleashed will we succeed in countering this tide.

  • http://futureshift.org MoM

    Hello Mr. Lessig,

    It’s evident like Obama gets it, that you get it, indeed as Charlie Rose gets it, that things are already changing
    and what it is to be chanced as within this ongoing chance is of critical importance, or comportance. What
    this resent Presidential election was very much about was the defeat of the mechanistic and fragmentary by the ‘getting it’ orientation that there is a conceivably seamless interconnect for everything around us and out there, for whatever brought disparate factions to such near grasp of what Fritjof Capra expounded upon in his Tao of Physics.

    Where you are concerned with abolitionists, regarding our current styling of intellectual property by legal rights, I see how much of the quandary, such as might be between you and Lewis Hyde as to how secular legality need be applied, can be best solved, only by better grammar than than our given language yet allows by exchange.

    This is the quandary of the Semantic Web as it is also of our capability of adopting quantum computing. Taking up the linguistic thesis of Benjamin Lee Whorf that our reality is by the construct of our language, I
    found your topic-threading dialog with Charlie Rose of considerable interest.

    Where I come from is in designing security circuits over the last 40 years, and where I’m given to how
    change can best happen, say by chance >
    in metalinguistics can see same priority of things, is in what separation of church and state offers a consti-
    tutional basis of what not only is decidedly non-secular but can openly compete in the marketplace with not
    just secular ideas but secular contrivances, applying to both scalar dimension of excellence as well as institu-tional corruption that currently abounds in the Catholic Church as an institution, indeed as a Universal Grammar can get us into ‘exaction’ and ‘eduction’ that upgrades both organized religion as well as con-ventional education. As a mechanic as well as a technician, instauring altar configuration of alarm systems,
    I have, in addition to compiling a lengthy track record and systems population, written 128 Booted Texts
    beyond copyright and political law, and look forward to what alternative to publishing, what I refer to as
    ‘privications’, that stylused telemetry of the telecosm that idiomatic autocircuitry variation of the current
    Internet might provide, in proviso of a market that could rapidly expand as non-public, private and ecumenical.
    This could seem a bit far fetched to probably most people, but I can’t see any other place it could go, indeed
    as solving our societal chance in climate change.

    You’re onto good stuff. Maybe sometime soon we might meet up.

    Best regards, MoM

  • Lillian

    Larry, congratulation, good show. I have only one comment to make. You mentioned during your discussion with Charlie Rose about Gorbachev and Yeltsin. As somebody who has witness first hand several revolutions, the collapse of the communism, and now the collapse of capitalism I would say that there are many things that one can learn from the past. I also believe that understanding the past will save one time in finding solutions that actually work. You know, people have tried many times to fundamentally change things, but somehow things are more less hard to change. It doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t try. It just means that it is harder than it looks. In any case, good luck. Cheers, Lillian

  • A.D.J.
  • http://bentrem.sycks.net Ben Tremblay

    Hey Larry – I hope you don’t mind the familiarity. (For readers: it’s a communicative gesture; this is off the cuff.)

    Lao Tse and craft? How about Sun Tzu?
    I’ve been preaching “Let every person be their own ‘sage general’” at myself for years. Maybe years. *Vista froze just then … can we practice without truth? But everyone around me denies that M$ is wicked. And few dare ponder Allende. So … we have banners and fine rhetoric. But where are the trenches? No, no, not “Are there trenches”, Larry. /Where/?! Grid coordinates … detail. Not empty precision, actual /accuracy/.*

    So this mere tool-smythe rides back through the setting sun on the blue ox an old man gave him. (Chuang Tsu told me about the gnarled branch. *shrug* Yuppies raised their kidz on the wealth from decimating entire forests. What know they of “branch” or “gnarl” … or Chuang Tsu?)

    I have called it “participatory deliberation”. Last I checked my work appears first in google searches.
    Is the term too abstruse?

    Or is it that I speak of craft, and trade, and practice … knowing nothing of “art”.

    *shrug*

    The reality is that access is controlled by the A-list … see Buckminster Fuller on “pirates and navigators”.
    Nothing is true til some luminary announces it from on-high.

    But the fabric of democracy is woven from the dignity of individuals.
    Or it is sham cloth.

    Oh, hey … how we doing on the “war of ideas” front?
    Fighting for hearts and minds …
    … like buying virginity.

    p.s. from my post about your video:
    Cast:
    Lawrence Lessig hasn’t shared any cast information with blip.tv yet.

  • http://www.environmentalsafeguards.org Elaine Cimino

    Mr Lessig,

    The Gestalt has shifted and there is movement working in the country to take back the local from Corporate grip.
    In Santa Fe NM I am working with 10 people to put forth a Communications Ordinance requiring Citizen Communications by County staff and change the governmental process to openness and transparency Beyond what is now required by the opening meetings and Freedom of information. We are requiring notice before ICIP expenditures, water rights portfolio postings and among a longer list, a Sunshine Review Commission; consisting of no corporate representation of lobbyist and by member of the 5 districts and 4 citizens at large two of which must be from a nonpartisan Non-profit that doesn’t endorse candidates. We also worked in the past year to educate over 100 people locally on the tenets of democracy school which in this self has changed the model by which activism can strengthen toward self-governance.

    We have come to realize that if we are going to survive the collapse of capitalism and transform ourselves into a green tech ‘power-down’ and earth stewardship model it begins with the local. We are setting up Employee own Co-operatives for a myriads of services, and wind and solar manufacturing assembly and installations based on the Mondragon models. Yet for all the best intentions and hard work, the political will corruption in Washington and even within our own state government must be addressed. I was please to hear about Change congress.org and hope to have our group connect in some way to support campaign finance reform.

    I will share this information with the Groups which include a network over 27 non profits working on anti nuclear, peace and justice, water and food, renewable energy and the folks that are now fighting tooth and nail an oil consortium who think they can march into our back yards here in NM and drill baby drill. This is happening in the most pristine areas of the Rocky Mountains and we are are ready for a standoff, in the courts and on the land. this is not how we who live here envision our communities.

    Yes I agree things can change and that something alive in this country after this election called,- hope.
    Elaine Cimino– Community Organizer Northern New Mexico

  • http://members.sibeliusmusic.com/invictus Keith Otis Edwards

    I think poorly of Professor Mr. Lessig for his disparaging comments about alcoholics during his interview on the Charlie Rose talk-fest. We alcoholics are not the lepers of modern society, and we prefer to be called drunkards.

    A good case can be made that all human progress came not from puritans, but from drunkards. Beethoven was a drunkard, as were most writers of any merit. As opposed to Professor Mr. Lessig’s comments, more harm has come from teetotalers (e.g., Ms. Nation, the late Reichskanzler, Bush II) than from the temulent.

    As H. L. Mencken wrote to Upton Sinclair, “[Alcohol] is, I believe, the greatest of human inventions, and by far — much greater than Hell, the radio or the bichloride tablet.”

  • David Tallan

    While I mostly agree with you, and the trauma/cancer analogy sounds good, I think it misses the mark. I think the major crises that Obama is faced with are precisely what gives him the transformational opportunity. How he responds to these will set the pattern for his presidency. The challenge will not be to stabilize the situation and then move on to transformation but to stabilize the situation in a transformational manner. He’s got to use the new type of government he wants to create to solve the crises.

    It’s going too be heard enough enough to make the changes now. But now, with the crises facing us, the appetite for change is large. He’s got to use it to get agreement for his agenda. It’s sort of the reverse of the Bush situation. After 9/11, the Bush administration used the crisis to get broad-based agreement for some major fear-driven changes. Obama has to use the crises to get broad-based agreement for some major hope-driven changes.

    Another reason to combine the two into one is that it will immediately give a huge amount of credibility to the “new government” when it has a track record of successfully solving major crises. If he uses the old, improperly dependent tactics to solve the crises there will be the thought in the back of people’s minds that that’s what is necessary when you really need to get things done. That’s now way to establish a transformation.

    To go back to your medical analogy, it’s as if you’ve got someone coming in with cancer and in the past he’s been bled to remove the evil humors. Your trying to switch to modern medicine to treat the cancer. The real transformation isn’t in curing the cancer. It’s in the switch to modern medicine – how you cure the cancer. If he gets into a car accident, you don’t deploy the team of humoric specialists to treat the trauma and then bring in the modern medicine for the cancer. You use the modern medicine to treat the trauma, too.

    Bush has to make sure that his trauma team, as much as his cancer team, embody the change he is trying to make. Eventually, the means become the end.

    FDR didn’t try to solve the Depression and then usher in the New Deal. He used the New Deal to to try and solve the Depression. He started on the transformation right away. Obama needs to do the same. It’s a big enough task without puttng it off.

    In my humble opinion.

  • http://www.share-international.org Betsy Whitfill

    It seems to me that what Mr. Lessing is essentially talking about is relationship, human relationships. If the “next big idea” is to ever be successful, it must be based on an even bigger idea, that of right relationships between people, between the creative and commercial groups, and in the sense of empowering people and reviving American ideals, between Americans and those in the rest of the world. In fact, it might be said that that same right relationship must come to be the norm in all the world. We are not Americans, French, Italian, Columbian etc. We are human beings, humanity. We are one group. This Oneness is our great strength, which is yet to be brought to bear on our self-created problems. The transformation we seek is that of our awareness of who we are!

    A spiritual Teacher, whose stature is that of the Buddha, the Christ, the teacher awaited by all traditions, stands at the door to our public consciousness. His teaching is based on the concept of humanity as One diverse yet spiritually one group. He is waiting for humanity to be ready to listen to his call for sharing as the basis for our new civilization. Sharing, he says, is the only way forward for mankind; all else has been tried and failed. If we don’t learn to share Earth’s resources so that all may have the basic necessities of life, we will destroy ourselves.

    Without sharing, there can be no justice; without justice, there can be no peace; without peace, there will be no future. Fortunately, this Teacher, Maitreya, is soon to give the first in a series of tv interviews on a major show in the US. He won’t say who he is, but can be known by the quality of his ideas and his call for sharing, justice, and love. When that is about to happen, a huge star will be seen in the sky as a sign of what will be the beginning of a new life for all people. Background information is available in the books of Benjamin Creme, and online at http://www.share-international.org. One of the books, “The Awakening of Humanity” is available online at that site. This is really big!

  • http://studyinjapan.blogspot.com Kyle Goetz

    Professor Lessig,

    I’ve seen you speak via the internet many times before and was fortunate to see you speak in 2007 at The University of Texas campus about free culture (Sanford Levinson’s student, in case you remember–though likely not). Once again, it’s been my pleasure to see you out fighting the good fight. I was also pleased to see that Charlie Rose was familiar with your arguments and seemed to be on your side. We the People need all the help from the media we can get.

    Your argument about the difference between the Presidency and Congress for public funding purposes was compelling. I’ve been struggling with Obama’s reneging on his public financing promise, because I have been a supporter of his for a while. My concern was that in the presidential race Obama would not have won without massive amounts of money simply because of his lack of name recognition among those who do not watch CNN religiously.

    The conclusion seems to be that the longest-serving candidate (or incumbent) has a massive advantage in all elections if each candidate receives public financing simply because, all things being equal (money included), name recognition is one thing that unbalances the equation.

    Do you think that this result would actually occur if public financing were mandatory? Or does it even matter, since the Change Congress movement seems less geared toward ousting certain candidates and more geared toward, at this point, merely changing the money game regardless of who is in office?

  • D. Anthony

    Any chance we can encourage you (Lessig) to be appointed to the newly created position of Copyright Czar when Obama takes office? :)

  • http://www.iplanretirement.com Green Retirement

    Lawrence:
    Money=Free Speech. The method available for limiting money’s influence in politics is a constitutional amendment. This would eliminate the need for public funding. I am surprised that a constitutional amendment for political financing did not come up in the interview.

    Ramsay

  • John M. Medlock

    Referring to the Charlie Rose interview…
    I have to wonder whether money is really the problem or is it the fact that legislators have the opportunity to make a career of Congress, and thus need the money to realize this opportunity.
    From everything I have read there seems no indication that our founders harbored any notion of career legislators; too bad, maybe had they so imagined they could have forestalled it.

  • FK

    This is what you (we) are up against:

    “[because] the name of the game is money, and the fact is they [members of Congress] still largely depend on lobbyists for the money to bulk up their campaigns.” [Leon Panetta quoted in the NYT ( http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/washington/25lobby.html?hp)

    The quote illustrates perfectly (and depressingly) the attitude problem you are talking about: this is how it is so this is how it will be. Changing that is the biggest challenge. Hope Change Congress can improve the situation.

  • Jardinero1

    The problem is that we have gone from being a republic to being a democracy with majority rule. Federal funding of candidates and more regulation of campaigns will not change that essential fact. Instead of placing limits on what candidates and congressmen can do, we should place limits on what government can do.

    Remember it is democracy and the will of the majority which gave us the current president, the current congress, these stupid wars, and a federal bureaucracy with no respect for the law which it enforces. Less democracy and a restoration of republican principles is the solution.

  • Tags

    I was mightily impressed when I saw this interview on the CR website. I particularly enjoyed your concise description of how George Lucas’s “people” arranged it so that anyone who created a mash-up on his site relinquished their rights to what they synthesized to Lucas.

    To be honest, I thought that the troops would be withdrawn from Iraq after GW Bush clicked “I Agree” on some ersatz terrorist website that stipulated on page 67 that the troops be removed.

    Today, we live in an environment where voluminous and one-sided contracts that no one has time to read need to be clicked immediately or at least are portrayed to the naive as having to be clicked without delay.

  • Tags

    Do you think you might be able to facilitate the creation of a database of “fair” contract templates that can be mashed-up and fuel a return to contracts that are actually fair? This could become a trusted resource analogous to Consumer Reports.

  • http://uberm00.net/ Spoom

    Professor,

    I too believe that currently copyright is a useful tool for promoting the arts and sciences, and innovation in general. Where we perhaps differ is whether it deserves a place in the economy in, say, fifty years. If digital copying makes creating and sharing a copy of a work a zero-cost action, how then does one make the argument that we should be imposing artificial restrictions on people such that they have to follow a set of rules handed down from the content producer?

    One could argue that the content has a value and that value should be protected. I agree that content is valuable, however, laws protecting it are doomed to failure due to not only the population that simply wishes to get something for nothing, but also those who want to reuse the work for their own useful creation.

    I wonder if you’ve looked at proposals such as the Street Performer Protocol or the Digital Art Auction. Both allow content producers to generate revenue from their works from the populace as a whole (perhaps your ‘patron’ as mentioned in the interview, but the widest one possible: everyone). I haven’t seen too many people using them thus far, which leads me to believe that there is something about them that doesn’t fill the niche that copyright serves currently… the only thing I can think of is residuals, or continuing per-item sales. But again, if copying is a zero-cost transaction, why should a user have to pay the content producer to perform an action which costs both of them nothing?

    Anyway, I’m curious what you (and others) think of these types of proposals, and possibly ways to fix them.

  • oliver

    Re: Money interest being “primary” and ignorance or confusion being somehow secondary to the misguiding of public policy, let’s not be hierarchical about it. Just because certain biology breakthroughs may have awaited certain physics breakthroughs that awaited certain mathematics breakthroughs, etc etc, doesn’t make any field of inquiry inferior or subordinate to any other. Maybe nascent revolutionaries have rightly judged certain fields as being “where the action is” or “ripe for discovery” on occasion, but those judgments each were right for a time and a context and a person, not absolutes. Likewise, a person who’s generated great and celebrated political ideas (LL & CC) and sees politics unmoved by it maybe rightly will judge politics and corruption to be where the breakthrough will occur. To call it “primary” though is being over-humble or maybe politically correct. How far would Lenin have gotten without Marx?