December 3, 2008  ·  Lessig

The toughest gig when releasing a book is bookstore events. At least when you’re no one, no one is ever there. So if ANYONE here is near the Barnes & Noble in Hillsdale (here’s a map) Thursday at 7pm, can you please please please come? Or send your Mom? Or younger brother? Or younger brother’s math class?

And if you can’t do that, but have read the book, then can you at least write a review of the book at Amazon? Two people have written. One decent enough (though he didn’t like the book). The second who gave the book one star because he didn’t like me on Charlie Rose (I kid you not.)

December 3, 2008  ·  Lessig


This story is absurd. The message here is that Governor Rendell somehow screwed up because he said something not intended for broadcast near an open mic. But wait a minute: Who did the wrong here? It is plain from the context that Rendell did not intend his comments for public consumption. Yet intentionally or not, ever-more-invasive technologies captured what he said. So why isn’t the outrageous behavior here broadcasting what he plainly intended to be a private conversation, rather than, as this commentator makes it seem, the fact that he was having a private conversation at the mic?

Or again: To be sure, Rendell would be wise to remember that there are a million privacy invading technologies surrounding us, and that he, like a citizen in the former Soviet Republic, needs to make sure that whatever he says isn’t been snooped. But whether Rendell was wise or not (and I certainly have criticized him for not being wise), why isn’t the outrageous behavior taking what he plainly didn’t intend to be public and broadcasting it on a world-wide network?

Just because you can see, doesn’t mean you should look. And just because you looked, doesn’t mean you should broadcast what you saw to the whole world. I know a little titillation is good for ratings; I hadn’t known CNN had begun to stoop to such lows.

December 3, 2008  ·  Lessig

From the Creative Commons blog:

As previously announced, we’re running a questionnaire on understanding “NonCommercial” use. The questionnaire runs through December 7. It takes 15-25 minutes to complete.

Click here to start the questionnaire.

Your input is greatly appreciated. CC CEO Joi Ito explains:

“The study has direct relevance to Creative Commons’ mission of providing free, flexible copyright licenses that are easy to understand and simple to use,” said Creative Commons CEO Joi Ito. “The NC term is a popular option for creators choosing a Creative Commons license, and that tells us the term meets a need. However, as exponentially increasing numbers of works are made available under CC licenses, we want to provide additional information for creators about the contexts in which the NC term may further or impede their intentions with respect to the works they choose to share, and we want to make sure that users clearly understand those intentions. We expect the study findings will help us do a better job of explaining the licenses and to improve them, where possible. We also hope the findings, which will be made publicly available, will contribute to better understanding of some of the complexities of digital distribution of content.”

You can also help by sending your friends and colleagues to the questionnaire.

December 2, 2008  ·  Lessig

As I indicated yesterday, I was very encouraged by the decision by the Obama transition team to freely license change.gov (not actually a .gov entity, so not exempt from the rights of copyright).

But over the weekend, a bunch of us got together to begin (actually, continue) the process of framing “open government principles.” The first round is described at Politico by Ben Smith.

You can read the rationale for the principles at open-government.us. Put briefly, the three principles are:

1. No Legal Barrier to Sharing (law (copyright law) should not block sharing);

2. No Technological Barrier to Sharing (code (limitations on downloads, for example) should not block sharing;

3. Free competition (no alliances should favor one commercial entity over another, or commercial over noncommercial entities).

Some have framed these as “demands” made of the administration. That’s like saying the mouse can make demands of the lion. We’re not making demands; we’re describing good policy. Or at least, good policy as we see it.

December 1, 2008  ·  Lessig

change.gov.jpg

Consistent with the values of any “open government,” and with his strong leadership on “free debates” from the very start, the Obama team has modified the copyright notice on change.gov to embrace the freest CC license.

This is great news about a subject that’s harder than it seems. One might well ask why is this an issue at all? The one thing copyright law is pretty good at is exempting works of the government from copyright protection. Why should the published work of a transition, or a President, be any different?

I don’t think it should be, but I get why this is a hard issue. Whether or not one was free to republish works printed by the GPO, the freedom that digital technologies enables here is certainly enough to give one pause. I’m fine with the pause; I’d be happy to defend the freedom explicitly. But it is understandable that this is something that any administration would have to think through.

I’m glad the thought in this administration led to the right conclusion, so quickly, and in the midst of so much else going on.