May 19, 2005  ·  Lessig

I got an email from Bruce Lehman, which was very big of him after I criticized him for his claim that I “seem[] to believe you can have a post-industrial economy without any copyrights.”

Anyway, Bruce’s email (and to be clear, it was sent not just to me, but to me as a “IIPI Supporter” (which has as much connection to the truth as his statement above)) was proud to announce a new section on the IIPI website called a “Discussion Forum.”

The discussion forum was inspired by the “debate surrounding the European Union�s (EU) proposed Directive on Computer Implemented Inventions (CII).” As Bruce writes, “It is important to remember that the patentability of computer implemented inventions, or lack there of, will have a profound effect on European industry and competitiveness.” Absolutely right, which is why is it so good that the IIPI has opened a discussion forum on their site so people can contribute to the “discussion” about IIPI’s strong support for this software patent initiative.

I encourage all to answer Bruce’s call: You can find the “CII Discussion Forum” here. And be sure to spread the word!

March 7, 2005  ·  Lessig

So despite the fact that the EU Parliament has rejected software patents for Europe, and despite the fact that there is not a qualified majority of member states supporting it, the EU Council has now endorsed their draft of the “Directive on the Patentability of Computer-Implemented Inventions.”

This struggle continues to astonish me. There’s no good economic evidence that software patents do more good than harm. That’s the reason the US should reconsider its software patent policy.

But why Europe would voluntarily adopt a policy that will only burden its software developers and only benefit US interests is beyond me.

They call it a “democracy” that they’re building in Europe. I don’t see it. Instead, they have created a government of bureaucrats, more easily captured by special interests than anything in the US.

December 9, 2004  ·  Lessig


Law enforcement is apparently busy keeping our borders and toystores safe from pirates (read: terrorists). US Customs agents, for example, reportedly seized “clearly piratical copies” of a Stripburger series called “Richie Bush,” a parody of Richie Rich. This followed a report that the Department of Homeland Security sent agents to a toy store to order them to remove a toy called “Magic Cube” from the shelf because it allegedly violated the trademark of Rubik’s Cube. (The patent protecting the cube has expired.) According to the Department’s spokeswomen:
“One of the things that our agency’s responsible for doing is protecting the integrity of the economy and our nation’s financial systems and obviously trademark infringement does have significant economic implications.”

Obviously. Just imagine the spike in GDP produced by the government’s efforts to eliminate competition in children’s toys. And just in time for Christmas no less.

November 24, 2004  ·  Lessig

In September, I reported that Philadelphia was considering funding a WiFi service for the city. Sixty percent of the citizens have no access to broadband. The city elders believe that’s no way to enter the 21st century.

But as Public Knowledge now reports, a bill on the Governor’s desk would now make it impossible for Philadelphia to offer such a service, because it “competes” with private businesses offering the same service.

So, let’s see: If I open a private street light company, selling the photons my lights give off, can Philadelphia offer “free” street lights? Or does the fact that Guards To Go offers services in Philadelphia mean we need to disband the Philly police department?

I am from Pennsylvania. I spent 4 wonderful years in Philadelphia. (Indeed, I was elected Youth Governor in 1979!) If you’re connected to that freedom-loving state, please say something to the Governor.

September 30, 2004  ·  Lessig

Bruce Ackerman has an interesting piece in the American Prospect about the oath Rumsfeld asked the civilians sworn to review the judgments reaching by the Guantanamo Bay commission: “Does each one of you swear that you will faithfully and impartially perform according to your conscience and the rules applicable to the review filed by a military commission all the duties incumbent upon you as a member of the review panel, so help you God?” “God” is central; the Constitution is forgotten. A metaphor for too much these past few years.