March 27, 2006  ·  Lessig

I’m just leaving Japan after a day long conference sponsored in part by the Japanese National Institute of Informatics. The morning session was sponsored by Creative Commons Japan and consisted of six presentations by people using Creative Commons licenses, or in a couple cases, doing things that depend upon CC-like freedom.

Japan is one of my favorite places in the world, and I love any excuse to be here. But I had a strange deja vu as I listened to the stories of what people are doing here.

In the late 1990s, I travelled a bunch to South America to talk about cyberspace. In conference after conference, I listened to South Americans describe how they were waiting for the government to enact rules so they could begin to develop business in cyberspace. That reaction puzzled me, an American. As I explained to those who would listen, in America, business wasn’t waiting for the government to “clarify” rules. It was simply building business in cyberspace without any support from government.

Yet as I listened to the Japanese describe the stuff they were doing with content in cyberspace, I realized we (America) had become South America. One presentation in particular described an extraordinary database the NII had constructed to discover relevance in linked databases, and drive traffic across a database of texts. I was astonished by the demonstration, and thought to myself that we could never build something like this in the U.S., at least until cases like the Google Book Search case was resolved.

And bingo — the moment of recognition. We are now, as the South Americans in the 1990s, waiting for the government to clarify the rules. Investment is too uncertain; the liability too unclear. We thus wait, and fall further behind nations such as Japan, where the IP (as in copyright) bar is not so keen to stifle IP (as in the goose that …).

(Oh, and re broadband: NTT is now well on its way to rolling fiber to the home. Cost per home — between $30-50/m, for 100 megabits/s).

March 23, 2006  ·  Lessig

Sun has made recent announcements about their openDRM project. In my view, they’ve made some commitments that are important for any DRM project. E.g., as I’ve seen it described, it would be implemented to allow individuals to assert “fair use,” and unlock DRM’d content, with a tag to trace misuse. And they’ve described a platform upon which authors keep the freedom to turn the DRM off, and more the content from the secured platform.

These are good things. But some confuse praise for better DRM with praise for DRM. So let me be as clear as possible here (though saying the same thing I’ve always said): We should be building a DRM-free world. We should have laws that encouraged a DRM-free world. We should demonstrate practices that make compelling a DRM-free world. All of that should, I thought, be clear. But just as one can hate the Sonny Bono Act, but think, if there’s a Sonny Bono Act, there should also be a Public Domain Enhancement Act, so too can one hate DRM, but think that if there’s DRM, it should be at least as Sun is saying it should be.

March 7, 2006  ·  Lessig

I feel like one. Here’s the text of a letter I’ve sent to Congresswoman Lofgren and Congressman Boucher — the two key leaders on all things good re copyright in Congress — about the Copyright Office’s Orphan Works Report. No one will like me for this letter.

March 2, 2006  ·  Lessig


Please join us for the first CC Salon, taking place in San
Francisco on Wednesday, March 8 from 6pm-9pm at Shine (1337 Mission Street).

CC Salon is a casual get-together focused on conversation and community-building
and is open to anyone interested in art, technology, education, and copyright.

Featuring presentations by:
Josh Kinberg (FireAnt)
Eddie Codel (Geek Entertainment TV)
James Wagner Au (Second Life)

And music by:
Minus Kelvin (ccMixter)

We look forward to seeing you there!