Lessig in 2015
|Director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University
Professor of Law at Harvard Law School
|Preceded by||redrawn district|
|Born||Lester Lawrence Lessig III
June 3, 1961
Rapid City, South Dakota
|Spouse(s)||Bettina Neuefeind (m. 1999)|
|Education||B.S. in management
B.A. in economics
M.A. in philosophy
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania
Trinity College, Cambridge
If the only way a library can offer an Internet exhibit about the New Deal is to hire a lawyer to clear the rights to every image and sound, then the copyright system is burdening creativity in a way that has never been seen before because there are no formalities.
We have a massive system to regulate creativity. A massive system of lawyers regulating creativity as copyright law has expanded in unrecognizable forms, going from a regulation of publishing to a regulation of copying.
A free culture is not a culture without property; it is not a culture in which artists don't get paid.
Now that copyrights can be just about a century long, the inability to know what is protected and what is not protected becomes a huge and obvious burden on the creative process.
Of all the creative work produced by humans anywhere, a tiny fraction has continuing commercial value. For that tiny fraction, the copyright is a crucially important legal device.
As we've seen, our constitutional system requires limits on copyright as a way to assure that copyright holders do not too heavily influence the development and distribution of our culture.
Copyrights have not expired, and will not expire, so long as Congress is free to be bought to extend them again.
Believing we know what makes prosperity work, ignoring the nature of the actual prosperity all around, we change the rules within which the Internet revolution lives. These changes will end the revolution.
Americans have been selling this view around the world: that progress comes from perfect protection of intellectual property.
By the time Apple's Macintosh operating system finally falls into the public domain, there will be no machine that could possibly run it. The term of copyright for software is effectively unlimited.
Notwithstanding the fact that the most innovative and progressive space we've seen – the Internet – has been the place where intellectual property has been least respected. You know, facts don't get in the way of this ideology.
When government disappears, it's not as if paradise will take its place. When governments are gone, other interests will take their place.
Remember the refrain: We always build on the past; the past always tries to stop us. Freedom is about stopping the past, but we have lost that ideal.
The danger in media concentration comes not from the concentration, but instead from the feudalism that this concentration, tied to the change in copyright, produces.
Monopoly controls have been the exception in free societies; they have been the rule in closed societies.
A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted. The character of an era hangs upon what needs no defense.
The real harm of term extension comes not from these famous works. The real harm is to the works that are not famous, not commercially exploited, and no longer available as a result.
In these times, the hardest task for social or political activists is to find a way to get people to wonder again about what we all believe is true. The challenge is to sow doubt.
If the Internet teaches us anything, it is that great value comes from leaving core resources in a commons, where they're free for people to build upon as they see fit.
Before the monopoly should be permitted, there must be reason to believe it will do some good – for society, and not just for monopoly holders.
So uncritically do we accept the idea of property in culture that we don't even question when the control of that property removes our ability, as a people, to develop our culture democratically.
A culture without property, or in which creators can't get paid, is anarchy, not freedom.
All around us are the consequences of the most significant technological, and hence cultural, revolution in generations.
A free culture has been our past, but it will only be our future if we change the path we are on right now.
While the creative works from the 16th century can still be accessed and used by others, the data in some software programs from the 1990s is already inaccessible.
This does not mean that every copyright must prove its value initially. That would be a far too cumbersome system of control. But it does mean that every system or category of copyright or patent should prove its worth.