October 21, 2004  ·  Lessig

In a couple hours, Granny D debates her opponent in the New Hampshire Senate Race, Judd Gregg. Here is a great site that summarizes his views on the issues. From the Lessig Blog (and Lessig!), good luck, Granny D. Just show who you are, and the rest will take care of itself. Speak real — not, e.g., “New Hampshire is a special place, home to many wonderful people.” (from the Judd site), but the way you’ve spoken here.

October 15, 2004  ·  Lessig

And good luck in the debate. The key to winning a debate is to keep your own rhythm. After the (literally) thousands of miles you’ve walked, this should be a natural for you.

October 13, 2004  ·  Lessig

So Granny D, the extraordinary 94 year old activist from New Hampshire running for the United States Senate, wants to guest blog @ Lessig Blog.

I’m honored to welcome her here for the next week. I’m scaling back a bit, preparing for the KAHLE argument, while she’s pushing ahead, preparing for November 2d.

Her first post will come soon. Please welcome our first candidate for US Senate.

August 9, 2004  ·  Rick Boucher

I have tremendous respect for the scholarship of Professor Larry Lessig, and I am honored to be asked to host his blog this week. I hope that over the coming 5 days, we will have a series of thought-provoking conversations. Your views and suggestions will be helpful to me as we consider a variety of matters that Congress is now debating or will take up next year.

Let’s begin today with the hottest topic, the so-called Induce Act.

The Senate has under consideration a bill ( S. 2560 , often referred to as the Induce Act) that makes it unlawful for anyone to “intentionally induce” the infringement of a copyrighted work. By creating a new cause of action based on a subjective test, the legislation would overturn, or at least make irrelevant, the Supreme Court’s objective test in the Betamax case (“capable of substantial noninfringing use”). The effect on device manufacturers, including computer manufacturers, would appear to be self-evident: They could not bring new multi-purpose devices (including software) to market without facing the threat of crippling litigation. They would either have to withhold from the market useful new technology or agree in advance to restrictions on the functionality of the equipment, perhaps even agreeing to specific technical mandates sought by content owners.

Although I have my doubts that the bill will make its way out of the Senate this year and be considered by the House, we could yet see the bill appear in some form before the House Judiciary Committee (on which I sit) either as freestanding legislation or as an amendment to a pending copyright bill. As we fashion a strategy to address this threat to innovation and technical progress, I would welcome thoughts on whether the Induce Act does in fact gut the Betamax decision, how its effect will be felt beyond devices, and whether it raises any First Amendment issues by potentially chilling speech (e.g., product reviews).

August 3, 2004  ·  Tim Wu

Last week I was chatting with a friend who now works on the House Ways and Means Committee. Talk turned to the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, which Congress passed in July and which President Bush ratified yesterday.

“That DMCA and copyright term extension stuff,” he said to me, “None of it was really seen as controversial.”

“Some people consider it controversial” I said.

“I’m sure you’re right, and that’s what I thought” he said, “But we only got letters from the library people.” A pause. “Its become a standard clause, and doesn’t really get much attention. If people care about it, they need to do more.”

He’s right. Years of DMCA & term extension criticism can easily boil down to “not controversial.”

May 21, 2004  ·  Lessig

So how you reconcile privacyin a world where almost everything you do is “public” is hard. E.g., every click you utter on the net is in a sense “public”; every place you go on the web is “public” — both in the sense that you transmit to the public information about you as you do it. Yet all of us have the strong (and right) sense that there should be a limit.

Here’s a candidate running for U.S. Senate who doesn’t get that: Jack Ryan. (Warning: if you click on his website you get a pop-up asking to contribute.) (Disclosure: I’ve contributed to his opponent, Barak Obama). According to Joshua Marshall, Ryan has a campaign worker following Obama every moment of the day, video taping absolutely everything he does “in public.”

Not only does he record Obama’s public appearances, he tails Obama in his car; he follows him into restrooms; he stays a couple feet behind him when he’s walking in public; he waits outside his office and pesters his secretary. And he heckles Obama at public appearances.

Technically, of course, ok. And even maybe more than technically — after all, Obama is running for Senate. But do we really need another politician who lives by what is technically ok, to further erase any boundary of privacy?

Wonder how Ryan will vote on cameras monitoring every movement of citizens in “public places”? (Thanks to Tom Barger).

October 8, 2003  ·  Lessig

I was, at least. The recall provision is still stupidly crafted. But the results last night are as a democracy should be. A clear majority voted to recall the governor. And more people than supported Davis voted to elect Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He wasn’t my first choice. But it is interesting that the two top candidates “started” their life in the US in poverty. Anyone who gets as far as either did deserves our respect. And we Californians can hope that some of the benefit of the hard work and luck that has marked Mr. Schwarzenegger’s life might now pass to California.

August 7, 2003  ·  Lessig

So if this California recall succeeds, then more likely than not the Governor who replaces Gray Davis will have received fewer votes than Gray Davis. Davis could get, say, 49.9% of the vote, and would be “recalled.” But his replacement is chosen with a simple plurality. Thus, in a field of 200+ candidates, it is more likely than not that the replacement governor will have gotten fewer votes than the governor he replaces.

Which of course reminds one of another election — the 2000 presidential election, where again, through a special rule in the Constitution, the executive who won had fewer votes than his opponent. Though President Bush won in the Electoral College, he plainly lost the popular vote. Nonetheless, because of a constitutional provision (and an overly activist Supreme Court), the candidate with fewer votes won.

In both cases, the results are consistent with the letter of the law. But one might well ask whether they are consistent with the spirit of democracy. No doubt there is still strong support for the (imho outdated) institution of the Electoral College. So Bush’s victory (forgetting the Supreme Court’s role for a moment) is not only consistent with the letter of the law, but consistent with an institution that at least some believe makes sense.

But the same can�t be said for the California recall provision. Whether or not you believe in the power to recall, the California provision is insanely stupid. It makes no sense to decide the winner on the basis of a plurality. This is just a badly crafted constitutional provision — a kind of constitutional loophole. It’s the sort of clause which we fail people for writing in constitution-drafting classes. (No, there are not really any constitution drafting classes, but clearly there should have been in California at the beginning of the last century).

Yet it is one thing to have a bad clause in a constitution. It is quite another to rely upon it to become the Governor of a state as important as California. Whether Republican or Democrat, there is something deeply wrong about taking advantage of a constitutional mistake to become governor of one the most important states in the nation.

I can’t understand why the Democrats, or at least why the Davis supporters, don’t make this point clear. And more importantly, I can’t understand why Governor Davis doesn’t at least nominate a protest candidate — a candidate who says (1) this election is wrong, and (2) whether you like Davis or not, you should vote not to recall him on the basis of a constitutional mistake, and (3) after you vote not to recall him, you should vote for the protest candidate. That candidate would promise not to run for reelection — or for any office in California, since no one should benefit politically from a constitutional mistake — but would hold the governorship �in trust� until we have another election where the candidate with the most votes wins.

One might say, who could possibly resist such a loophole. That whether it is honorable or not, what politician would forgo the chance to become President or Governor, regardless of the means?

Yet we should remember that many believe that Nixon made essentially this choice when he refused to fight the results in Illinois and thus let Kennedy become President. In his moral universe, that’s not how an executive should become an executive.

It is a measure of this Enronera that neither our President nor over 200 candidates in this California recall election live up to the moral standards of even Richard Nixon. By whatever means, they will claim power.

January 9, 2003  ·  Lessig

So I wandered over to Senator Edwards’ website, and was impressed to see an online donation tool. So I tried it out. It told me my card was declined. I tried another card. It too was declined. Both cards are fine, so I figured there must be a problem with the routine. And so I searched the site for an email addres–any email address at all–to tell them something is wrong with the site. Result? None. Click “Contact Us” and you’re given a mailing address in North Carolina and a telephone number.

Oh well. Still waiting for the internet candidate.