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Lessig gives up on Free Culture

Aims Ivory Tower at 'Corruption'

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Unfortunately, Lessig's talk ignored the Fail of his endeavors. After all, he set out to alter the copyrights used by the mainstream. These copyrights tend to cover works that people actually want, rather than the flood of cruft bundled under the Creative Commons.

In addition, Lessig has an uncomfortable tendency of linking his copyright efforts with techno-utopian projects like Wikipedia.

We can all share information just like we share culture, right? Well, not when the information sharing source is rigged and busted.

Anyway, Lessig is happy enough with the copyright work to let it go and move on.

While still rather cagey on the exact shape that his corruption studies will take, Lessig during his speech presented one possible path for battling Washington.

A well-intentioned individual could try and convince politicians to refrain from taking money from special interest groups and pushing pork barrel legislation. Such an effort could "start out small" by convincing one or two politicians to join the campaign. "In two or three election cycles, you can imagine this process rolling into a collation, a consensus, a caucus of support," Lessig said.

Apparently, politicians would show their support for this agenda by "committing themselves to a certain set of principles". You reject earmarks, refuse lobbyist money and push for campaign finance reform. "If you do adhere to these three principles, you'd earn the right to tag yourself in a particular way."

You can imagine a scenario where politicians could submit their own photos to Flickr and tag them "loser" because these freedom fighters will be going against well-funded rivals. Even the ultimate dreamer concedes this is a very real challenge.

"(The politicians) probably will lose" if they give up the money.

Lessig, however, thinks that citizens have no other option than to battle corruption in these new ways.

Shot of Lessig with back to audience

Lessig thinks in front of hundreds

He complained that people place too much stock in viewing the President and Supreme Court as so-called agents of change. Sure, these branches of US government can enact big, sweeping policies, but they do it rarely, and these days it's harder than ever to get them to fight against a corrupt system.

For example, Lessig waxed eloquent on his Supreme Court loss, saying a friend has suggested the case was impossible since Lessig wanted the court to rule against all the money in the world. No court could be so brave. Lessig also appears keen on presidential candidate Barack Obama, but doubts that even a fighting mad commander in chief can conquer Washington's greed machine.

For the time being, the Congressional reform thing is nothing more than a possible course of action. So, Lessig remains very much in the Ivory Tower, doling out suggestions to freedom fighters who will listen.

And how were the old and new messages received?

Well, Lessig received a standing ovation.

Let's hope this noble quest to conquer corruption has a bit more meat to it than the Creative Commons game.®

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