January 25, 2006  ·  Lessig

A district court in Nevada has rejected the claim that Google’s cache violates copyright law. The opinion is grounded both on “fair use” and implied license. The “fair use” part of the opinion is fantastic. But interestingly, the “implied license” part of the opinion weakens any such claim in the context of Google Book Search.

January 20, 2006  ·  Lessig

I’ve created a wiki for work critical of my own work. The aim is to build a text that would complement my own work. I’d be grateful for any help people could provide. Think of the entries as essentially “But see” c/sites.

The wiki is here.

January 18, 2006  ·  Lessig

From Jennifer Granick, director of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society:

The Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society is collecting stories about problems with locked cell phones to support our request to the Copyright Office for an exemption to the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions for cell phone unlocking. The original comments filed are here. These will be for the reply comments.

If you have a good story, know someone who does, or are aware of a community of people who might be interested, please send the link to them.

January 17, 2006  ·  Lessig


I wrote this piece for the FT about the next war in copyright. If you’ve not seen AMVs, you should. Look here.

This will be the next big copyright war — whether this form of noncommercial creativity will be allowed. But there will be a big difference with this war and the last (over p2p filesharing). In the p2p wars, the side that defended innovation free of judicial supervision was right. But when ordinary people heard both sides of the argument, 90% were against us. In this war, the side that will defend these new creators is right. And when ordinary people hear both sides, and more importantly, see the creativity their kids are capable of, 90% will be with us.

I saw this first hand in the eyes of a father. From the FT piece:

But to those building the Read-Write internet, economics is not what matters. Nor is it what matters to their parents. After a talk in which I presented some AMV work, a father said to me: “I don’t think you really realise just how important this is. My kid couldn’t get into college till we sent them his AMVs. Now he’s a freshman at a university he never dreamed he could attend.”

These are creators, too. Their creativity harms no one. It is the heart of a whole new genre of creativity — not just with anime, but will all sorts of culture. If, that is, it is allowed.

Update: A relevant City of Heroes video on in-game IP.

January 14, 2006  ·  Lessig

So there’s a corrected version of the Google Book Search video here on youTube. Very cool video sharing service, just ripe for CC licenses.

The essence of the argument here builds upon the “market failure” justification for fair use: We recognize fair use where there’s a prominent market failure. Here, the market failure is caused by the insanely inefficient property system copyright law is. Given that, the use Google makes is plainly “fair use.”

Update: This is an updated version that substitutes a photograph. I stupidly used a photo without checking the license. The substituted photo is a beautiful image by fuzzbabble on Flickr. My apologies to the very talented Andrea K. Gingerich.

January 13, 2006  ·  Lessig

The Washington Internet Daily (which apparently is not on the Internet) has a story predicting the Telecom Bill will pass the House this year. The only sticking point seems to be the “controversial” “net neutrality” proposal. Says Howard Waltzman, the committee’s majority chief telecom counsel, and “net neutrality” opponent: “We’re going to rely on the market to regulate these services and not have a heavy hand in government regulation.” Waltzman thinks net neutrality regulation would turn “broadband pipes into railroads and regulating them under common carriage.” As he explains:

“The reason the Internet has thrived is because it’s existed in an unregulated environment. Regulating… under common carriage would be a complete step backward for the Internet.”

So half right, but wholly wrong. For of course, when the Internet first reached beyond research facilities to the masses, it did so on regulated lines — telephone lines. Had the telephone companies been free of the “heavy hand” of government regulation, it’s quite clear what they would have done — they would have killed it, just as they did when Paul Baran first proposed the idea in 1964. It was precisely because they were not free to kill it, because the “heavy hand[ed]” regulation required them to act neutrally, that the Internet was able to happen, and then flourish.

So Waltzman’s wrong about the Internet’s past. But he’s certainly right about what a mandated net neutrality requirement would be. It would certainly be a “complete step backward for the Internet” — back to the time when we were world leaders in Internet penetration, and competition kept prices low and services high. Today, in the world where the duopoly increasingly talks about returning us to the world where innovation is as the network owners says, broadband in the US sucks. We are somewhere between 12th and 19th in the world, depending upon whose scale you use. As the Wall Street Journal reported two months ago, broadband in the US is “slow and expensive.” Verizon’s entry-level broadband is $14.95 for 786 kbs. That about $20 per megabit. In FRANCE, for $36/m, you get 20 megabits/s — or about $1.80 per megabit.

How did France get it so good? By following the rules the US passed in 1996, but that telecoms never really followed (and cable companies didn’t have to follow): “strict unbundling.” That’s the same in Japan — fierce competition induced by “heavy handed” regulation producing a faster, cheaper Internet. Now of course, no one is pushing “open access” anymore. Net neutrality is a thin and light substitute for the strategy that has worked in France and Japan. But it is regulation, no doubt.

So while it is true that we have had both:

(a) common carrier like regulation applied to the Internet, and
(b) basically no effective regulation applied to the Internet

and it is true that we have had both:

(c) fast, fierce competition to provide Internet service and
(d) just about the worst broadband service of the developed world

it is not true that we had (c) when we had (b).

We had (c) when we had (a), and we have (d) now that we have (b).

But in the world where the President has the inherent authority to wiretap telephones, who would be surprised if facts didn’t matter much.

Broadband is infrastructure — like highways, if not railroads. If you rely upon “markets” alone to provide infrastructure, you’ll get less of it, and at a higher price. (See, e.g., the United States, today.)

January 10, 2006  ·  Lessig

Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg Google_full.jpg

So the other thing I wanted to try with this presentation was bitTorrent distribution. As I said, I used Prodigem‘s hosted bitTorrent service. Prodigem seeds the file if there are not at least 3 other seeds out there.

In the first day, there was about 120445 MB of completed traffic. Prodigem had transmitted 908 MB. Thus, 99% of the cost of distributing this was born by the audience. (Thanks!)

Right now, more than 1600 copies have been distributed. There are about 90 peers open.

Thus the meaning of: BitTorrent is a free speech tool.