Feeds

Lessig gives up on Free Culture

Aims Ivory Tower at 'Corruption'

The essential guide to IT transformation

Well, that's it. You'll never have to listen to Stanford professor Larry Lessig talk about Free Culture again.

Lessig is moving on - to fight the good fight against "Corruption". The technology-leaning lawyer announced this last year, but has continued to discuss Wikipedia, the Creative Commons and the like. That is until yesterday, when he delivered a "last lecture" on Free Culture at Stanford University.

His speech drew on familiar material. He's spent years fighting America's penchant for copyright extensions. Once upon a time, US law protected a work for 14 years, and then allowed rights' holders to extend that period one time for another 14 years. By 1831, the bar was raised to 28 years for the initial grant with an extra 14 years on renewal. Then things went pear-shaped, with Congress extending copyrights 11 times in the last 40 years, leaving us at a holder's lifetime plus 70 years.

Lessig's most famous battle against this extension "addiction", as he calls it, had him face off against the Supreme Court. In a 2003 ruling, the judges shot down his pleas to curtail copyright extensions, handing the academic a 7-2 defeat.

Over the past few years, Lessig has copped to his failings with this case, blaming the loss on an inability to characterize the importance of the issue in a way that Joe Average can comprehend.

"We are awful at framing an issue in a way that it understandable to the public," Lessig said. "We have been working - I have been working - a lot to correct these mistakes."

With the Supreme Court drubbing behind him, Lessig has spent recent years on Creative Commons. The lawyer and others wanted to give artists of all types a way to copyright their works in a more flexible fashion.

Lessig explains the Creative Commons and Free Culture in very simple terms these days, so that any moron can keep up. In fact, he employs an odd slide show technique during lectures to make sure that everyone knows what's going on. When Lessig says "door", for example, during a speech the word "door" appears on a screen. He does this for about every fifth word. You can see an example here. Lessig is talking about friends.

The Creative Commons has enjoyed an impressive amount of support. Thousands upon thousands of works are now covered by CC licenses. The hope is that these works can be shared and modified for years to come rather than locked away under the more restrictive, traditional copyright schemes.

This sharing of culture is more reflective of society's past, according to Lessig, and a break with the copyright extension addiction of the 21st century. In addition, it's helping foster new waves of creativity that work well with improved technology.

"There is an emergence of something we can call Tubes," Lessig said, as he talked about these "YouTubes that increasingly spread across to culture of the internet."

Lessing speaking at Stanford auditorium

Lessig and Lass

(Lessig is required to highlight things in terms of Google businesses.)

The Creative Commons has been so damn successful that Lessig now needs to bail on championing it full-time.

"I was a pessimist at the beginning of the Free Culture movement," he said. "I am an optimist today.

"The optimism (from the public) is so scary. That is why I had to leave. I had to find another improbable task."

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?