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Larry Lessig leaving the copysphere?

It's true ... from his own keyboard:

The bottom line: I have decided to shift my academic work, and soon, my activism, away from the issues that have consumed me for the last 10 years, towards a new set of issues. Why and what are explained in the extended entry below.


After talking about the basic inability of our political system to reckon the truth about global warming, Gore observed that this was really just part of a much bigger problem. That the real problem here was (what I will call a “corruption” of) the political process. That our government can’t understand basic facts when strong interests have an interest in its misunderstanding.


I don’t mean corruption in the simple sense of bribery. I mean “corruption” in the sense that the system is so queered by the influence of money that it can’t even get an issue as simple and clear as term extension right. Politicians are starved for the resources concentrated interests can provide. In the US, listening to money is the only way to secure reelection. And so an economy of influence bends public policy away from sense, always to dollars.


Third, in general, I will no longer be lecturing about IP (whether as in TCP/IP or IPR) issues. No doubt there will be exceptions. In particular, I have a few (though because this decision has been in the works for months, very few) obligations through the balance of the year. There will be others in the future too. But in general, unless there are very strong reasons, I will not be accepting invitations to talk about the issues that have defined my work for the past decade.

Instead, as soon as I can locate some necessary technical help, I will be moving every presentation I have made (that I can) to a Mixter site (see, e.g., ccMixter) where others can freely download and remix what I’ve done, and use it however they like. I will continue to work to get all my books licensed freely. And I am currently finishing one last book about these issues that I hope will make at least some new contributions.

Fourth, [my blog] will change too. My focus here will shift. That will make some of you unhappy. I’m sorry for that. The blog is CC-BY licensed. You’re free to fork and continue the (almost) exclusively IP-related conversation. But I will continue that conversation only rarely. New issues will appear here instead.

Honestly ... I think it bites. I think the forces of balanced copyright and free culture and unencumbered access to knowledge and content still need Larry Lessig. He wrote about having devoted nearly a decade to issues of IP and tech -- about the "important progress on [these] issues" and how others may push on as well or better than him. Which is probably true and well and good -- but it's still disappointing. Some fights are over the long haul. Some fights outlive their original proponents (literally) and generations beyond.

Prof. Lessig has to follow his own heart and mind, of course and I wish him nothing but well. And given his standing as a legal scholar, I'm sure I'll continue to track him, his work and his ideas. But forgive me for regretting, at least for a little bit, the loss of such a prominent voice in the IP and tech worlds.

Let's see who will next hold the bully pulpit for the information commons ...