January 27, 2009  ·  Lessig

Breaking news from The Huffington Post:

Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds, Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S. labor community’s top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call — including at least one representative from another bailout recipient, AIG — were urged to persuade their clients to send “large contributions” to groups working against the Employee Free Trade Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

…Donations of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars to Republican senatorial campaigns were needed, they argued…”If a retailer has not gotten involved in this, if he has not spent money on this election, if he has not sent money to [former Sen.] Norm Coleman and all these other guys, they should be shot. They should be thrown out their goddamn jobs,” Marcus declared.

Not only are some of the most non-trusted companies in America blatantly trying to buy off Congress, but they’re using our bailout money to do it.

This will ONLY change when elections are citizen funded. Join our strike4change to (1) starve the beast, (2) just say no, or (3) fix this absurd system — now. No money until a candidate commits to citizen funded elections.

January 27, 2009  ·  Lessig

From the Huffington Post:

Do sex, campaign money, and Change Congress’s new “donor strike” go together?

According to U.S. News & World Report, they do. Here’s an excerpt from their story, “Sex, Campaign Money, and Cleaning Up Politics”:

Don’t like how our politics are paid for? Some people who agree are pushing what I can only call the Lysistrata campaign finance reform plan. In the ancient Greek comedy, women withheld sex from their soldier husbands until they agreed to end an ongoing war.

Substitute sex for money and you have what the folks over at Change Congress are pushing: that donors go “on strike,” refusing to give their money to pols until a campaign finance overhaul is passed (specifically, they favor a system whereby people limiting themselves to small donations would get matching government funds).

They say that they’ve gotten no-contribution pledges from people who gave $400,000 to federal candidates in the last cycle.

So, you heard it from U.S. News & World Report first! Change Congress is bringing sexy back…to the campaign finance reform debate. (Step aside, Justin Timberlake.)

The “donor strike” has amazing momentum, but we need your help to keep going. There are two things you can do today.

First, if you haven’t already, join the strike. We’re at $422,000 in donations withheld–can you help us get to $500,000? With every new striker, we are increasing the pressure on Congress to pass fundamental reform. It’s easy, just click here.

Second, because Change Congress is fighting the special interests, we don’t get money from the fat cats. So we depend on people like you. We’re setting a goal of raising $100,000 in the next month–starting today. This will allow us to really turn up the pressure on Congress — including targeted events in local districts — to make sure politicians are well aware of how much money they’re losing if they oppose reform. If you care about cleaning up our democracy, please help us keep our successful “donor strike” campaign going by chipping in here today.

The donor strike’s also been featured in the Associated Press, National Journal, Huffington Post, ABC News, and Green Mountain Daily (Vermont). Working together, we’re making progress on this fundamental reform issue–and your help today will greatly help us keep the momentum going.

Thanks for helping to change Congress.
–Lawrence Lessig & Joe Trippi

January 22, 2009  ·  Lessig


January 20, 2009  ·  Lessig

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Here’s my Dopplr report for 2008. My flights were the equivalent of 5.4 Hummers, and I travel as fast as a Kangaroo. I can deploy offsets to deal with the first problem. Not sure what can be done about the second.

Update: So I missed the most troubling feature of this initially. According to Dopplr, I have a much higher velocity and much larger carbon footprint than Obama in 2008. Though he spent more nights away from home (then again, he doesn’t live in California).

January 19, 2009  ·  Lessig

From a correspondent:

My name is Marco Scialdone. I’m an italian lawyer involved in copyright issues.

… I think you’ll find interesting the following story. It shows how copyright law can struggle creativity and, above all, how copyright lawyers are unable to understand the potential and the beauty of this new culture enabled by the Net.

Recently, an article published on Artsblog has brought to my attention the Romaeuropa Web Factory Competition. The competition is about four different areas: video-art, electronic music, writing text, development of an advertising spot.

The regulation, at article 8, provides that: “It is not permitted by the participants, any activity of mashup, remix and any other kind of manipulation, in any case, the result of mashup works, remix and any other kind of manipulation cannot in any way participate in the competition.”

The clause above sounds absurd at least for two reasons.

The first, and most obvious, is because the forms of art that are mentioned, in particular video art and electronic music, use techniques such mashup, remix, manipulation and these techniques are, at the same time, their cultural and philosophical substratum and the raw material for their implementation.

The second, however, relates to a presumption of unlawfulness of those forms of art. The regulation does not seem to take into consideration that the video or the work may have been produced assembling or manipulating works whose licenses permit that type of activity and, therefore (i.e. Creative Commons Licences, or at least, many of them), make it perfectly legal (in terms of claims of the authors) the derivative works. Still, the regulation do not take into account that the activity of remix or mash-up could be based on material fallen into the public domain and therefore freely reusable to build on the past and create new forms of art.

For these reasons i decided to join some artists in writing a letter to the foundation asking a change in the regulation.

The object of the letter is “Freedom for Remix”. You can find it here (Italian).

My best regards,

Marco Scialdone

January 19, 2009  ·  Lessig

Freeing the source, for others to build upon. Read about Al Jazeera’s decision in Fred’s post for the CC blog:

Fred Benenson, January 13th, 2009

Al Jazeera Creative Commons RepositoryAl Jazeera is releasing 12 broadcast quality videos today shot in Gaza under Creative Commons’ least restrictive Attribution license. Each professionally recorded video has a detailed information page and is hosted on blip.tv allowing for easy downloads of the original files and integration into Miro. The value of this footage is best described by an International Herald Tribune/New York Times article describing the release:

In a conflict where the Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera has had a distinct advantage. It was already there.

More importantly, the permissive CC-BY license means that the footage can be used by anyone including, rival broadcasters, documentary makers, and bloggers, so long as Al Jazeera is credited.
There’s more information over at Al Jazeera’s CC repository, and in our press release. You can also add the Al Jazeera repository to your Miro feeds by clicking here.

January 19, 2009  ·  Lessig

Here’s 4:51 from the Open Rights Group on the proposal to extend the copyright term for sound recordings in Europe. (Recall, we extended our term to match the Europeans, but then, surprise surprise, we actually overshot the Europeans in important categories, leading the Europeans now to argue they need to extend the term to match the Americans.)

There’s an event on 27 Jan in Brussels to discuss the issue.

January 16, 2009  ·  Lessig

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Notice an important new feature in the world of YouTube — a “Click to download” link. YouTube is rolling this out slowly, initially with content that aspires to be consistent with principles of open government. I’m told it will be offered more generally. In any case, it is an important development. There have always been hacks for slurping down YouTube videos. But it is a valuable step that YouTube encourage and support this sharing.