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Ask Lawrence Lessig About Life And Law Online

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the voice-of-reason dept.

The Internet 218

Lawrence Lessig of Stanford Law School, and before that of various other places, is one of the best-known voices in the world of electronic freedoms. Lessig's new book, The Future of Ideas, is the latest work of many in his efforts to illuminate and create a freer world online. Lessig has agreed to answer your questions; please be courteous by limiting your questions to one per post.

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Ask Lawrence Lessig About Windows and Linux... (-1)

Trolligula (527461) | more than 12 years ago | (#2687962)

Tired of struggling with Linux? Well, there might be no better
time than now to consider a pure Windows environment. The flat
economy, rising software costs, shrinking technology budgets, and
Linux's shady "programming" and coding history with so many
different "distributions", many SMB customers clamoring to
solution providers for more reliable alternatives. Although
Window's corporate inroads have primarily been on the server
front and questions remain about the profitability of a
Windows-powered desktop, a great many solution providers have been
closing deals and reaping rewards from selling Windows-based
solutions for years.

To get a firsthand look at the viability of a "Linux-free"
solution, the CRN Test Center built a Windows network consisting of
a server and five workstations running various versions of Windows.
The goal was to create a reliable network that could be used in a
typical small-business environment.

The Winodws platform offers solution providers a reliable, low-cost
alternative in the SMB space. After constructing a practical
solution, the Test Center reached the following conclusion:
Windows and associated Windows applications can accomplish many of the same tasks as the Linux "hacker" standard with much more
reliability, in this case, 93 percent more reliability than a
similar Linux-based network, and without many of the hassles
presented by having to have a "Linux guru" (open source buzzword
for a communist genius).

Re:Ask Lawrence Lessig About Windows and Linux... (-1)

Trolligula (527461) | more than 12 years ago | (#2687979)

damn <b> for looking just like <br>

Re:Ask Lawrence Lessig About Windows and Linux... (-1)

VALinux (449801) | more than 12 years ago | (#2687985)

This is all true. I can testify.

Ask Lawrence Lessig About Life (0, Offtopic)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#2687967)

You have one? Where do you find the time?

Do you really think that there exists a difference (2)

bliss (21836) | more than 12 years ago | (#2687977)

Is there really some kind of way to expect that the net will forever remain free as we know it?

ep (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2687981)

This early post for Ida!

.NET-enabled futures? (5, Interesting)

Nikau (531995) | more than 12 years ago | (#2687982)

What is your opinion on things like Microsoft's .NET or the Liberty Alliance (I believe that's what it's called - the one being developed by AOL and other companies to counter .NET)? Do you see these as a potential problem in terms of a free online world?

1st Piss (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2687993)

awww yeahh....feel the burn.

DMCA (5, Interesting)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 12 years ago | (#2687994)

What, in your opinion, are the chances of getting the DMCA declared unconstitutional?

Given the recent court defeats in both the Felten and 2600 cases, do we even have a chance?

Re:DMCA (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688015)

In my opion, the chances are about the same as slashdot posting a single damn story with out someone asking about DMCA... Espcially in interviews.

or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688040)

"In my opion, the chances are about the same as slashdot posting a single damn story with out someone asking about DMCA... Espcially in interviews."

idiots thinking that such a low uid is really the creator of the site. Oh didn't think anyone would notice did you?

Re:or... (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688097)

WTF are you talking about. I have never claimed to be the creator of this site. You just took that assumption. (this time, your assumption only makes an ass out of you.)

Have you ever thought that my name being CmderTaco was just a parody of CmdrTaco. He should be honored that I have registered this user name in his honor. Nevermind that he is the creator of a web site that is mostly used for Linux mind control. He has assimilated you too, but he will not get me.

BTW: CmdrTaco is a fag anyway.

Re:or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688344)

"There should be limits to freedom"
-- George W Bush, commenting on an online parody of himself

This is 2001 remember, the extreme right are in the control of the US having had control over the legislature over the last 7 years (but to listen to all the "Vote Bush, Clinton was the person who created all those DMCA style laws so the right wing must be the people who stand for freedom" repugnantcunts you'd think the opposite), so you better watch who you're parodying.

On the positive side, I hear that nobody minds if you parody Hillary Clinton.

Re:or... (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688105)

By the way, next time you reply to me, at least have enough balls to let us know you user name...

Re:or... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688156)

fuck you jerk off, i'll tell you who i am when i want you to know who i am

Re:or... (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688203)

p u s s y

Re:or... (-1)

neal n bob (531011) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688264)

you dirty ball licking AC.

Bin Laden KILLED!!!!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2687998)

Holy SHIT - bin Laden has been KILLED by US Marines !!!

The US Government is holding a press conference right now, saying this could trigger huge attacks all over the world by al Qaeda cells !!!

We are all so fucked !!!

Confirmed by the AP, see for yourself at the link below !!! den_killed_166.html []

Re:Bin Laden KILLED!!!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Junis_from_Kabul (542067) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688042)

OOh my firends I surely hope that this is the case bbecause then you americans will come and bbring movies iPods and optical carrier pigeon fiber and a good many of your fat bbut looose women.

holy shit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688175)

holy shit. that's amazing. i didn't think they were ever going to get him when they started, but now i've been proved wrong.


Question for Mr. Lessig (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2687999)

Hi, I have been having some amount of trouble for quite some time now. Every time that I do your mom, my back starts hurting. I think it may be because of her weight. You see, it always starts hurting when I start lifting her fat rolls to find her hole.

Could you do me a favor and ask your mom to lose some weight?

Another plug for his book (-1)

The Turd Report (527733) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688009)

Blah blah blah crap. Must be a slow assed day at Slashduh.

John Ashcroft (2, Offtopic)

sulli (195030) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688017)

Should he be fired, impeached, or both? And am I aiding and abetting terrorists by asking such a question?

Re:John Ashcroft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688111)

>And am I aiding and abetting terrorists by asking such a question?

Yes, you are.

BTW: we have your IP.
-- John A.

Re:John Ashcroft (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688287)

WTF?! This post is interesting?! To whom?

Re:John Ashcroft (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688330)

wipe it CmderTaco

Re:John Ashcroft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688485)

yo' mama

Re:John Ashcroft (2)

hearingaid (216439) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688395)

Unless the US is way off, you can't impeach an attorney general, just the president. he can be fired of course ;)

Re:John Ashcroft (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688405)

Other than not understanding technology, and of course not agreeing with all your views? What has he done wrong?

Re:John Ashcroft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688463)

> John Ashcroft
> Should he be fired, impeached, or both? And am I
> aiding and abetting terrorists by asking such a
> question?

Is it too late to have Clinton tried for his many
crimes? We can start with malfeasance of office
with regards to 9-11.

Re:John Ashcroft (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688571)

John Asscroft should be beheaded while keeping his brain alive so that he would have to experience the constant camel cum sucking we will inflict upon him for the rest of eternity.

International Freedom (5, Interesting)

bfree (113420) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688019)

We seem to be living in "Interesting Times". The events of 911 have given law-makers the impetus to have acts passed which would have been at the very least debated for a lot longer pre 911. Up until now the Internet has been an incredibly open network with minimalist intervention and legislation from individual countries governments (a few notable exceptions). It seems as if we are going to enter a new legal phase for the internet where legislators in many countries will try to enact and apply laws to take control of this wild beast. Each countries individual efforts will hamper their own citizens without overly effecting the rest of the net.
My question is how much of the above do you disagree with and why? And what body (UN,, wipo, coporation of ISPs, Microsoft) do you forsee holding the international legal legislatory responsibility for the net at large in 1/5/10/25/50 years time?

Re:International Freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688396)

No offense, but i think remarks made by several members of the senate, (Lehey, Hatch and Others, mostly Democrats but a few Republicans from the west) both before the passage and subsequently... and remember, by and large these are the people to whom "Anthrax letters" have also been sent... indicates that badgering by the executive and the media (<sarcasm>who did such a wonderful job accurately representing the events of the day</sarcasm>) was more of an impetus than the attacks themselves.

Heck, now that they're thinking about reconsidering in the face of abuse we all knew would follow, Ashcroft is going around red-baiting the lot of them.

AOL-TW & MS (2, Interesting)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688030)

Big name companies (with lotsa money to throw at lawyers) are hovering over the net (AOLTW, MS), and Microsoft is getting off so lightly with their monopoly suit. Will the internet become dominated by big companies with no real way to freely get in, or will the law allow the net to stay free and kick out the big companies? To load the comment, I think that its only a matter of time before the big companies close in on the internet. How long and how do you anticipate the law will keep the wolves at bay??

(1 question per comment, I know, but everyone else does it) :-P

Activism by coding (5, Interesting)

melquiades (314628) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688036)

It seems like a lot of judges who face abstract technology questions -- code as speech, DMCA, etc. -- just don't get it. And can we really blame them? Technology is complicated; can we expect every judge to be an uberhacker?

Perhaps it would be helpful to have some bright programmers set up some concrete examples for judges to consider, which clarify the problems we all see, and help judges refine their intuitions about code and digital information.

For example, to further the "code is protected speech" cause, we could create a full-fledged programming language which reads as plain English, then use it to implement a copy protection circumvention program (DeCSS or the like). This raises all sort of interesting questions: it's English and code; is it protected under the first amendment? Presumably it was before it could be run as a program, so does my inventing a programming language change the status of existing speech? If it's protected as only source code, is an interpreter for that language illegal? Is bundling the English script with the interpreter illegal? And so forth....

...but that's a very thorny example. Are there examples of this kind that we programmers should be producing -- software that makes these theoretical arguments more concrete? Is there anything in this spirit that won't just confuse and/or piss off a judge? What examples do our causes need? We're ready to implement them!

Re:Activism by coding (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688326)

Yea, right. Have you ever read plain english writeouts of DeCSS. It still reads like a math equation, there is simply no way to simplify it for the common person to be able to read.

Re:Activism by coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688383)

its funny how code can be thought of as a passcode that decrypts the compiler's functionality.

Cyberspace Amendment (5, Interesting)

kzinti (9651) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688039)

Many years ago, in the early days of the WWW, Laurence Tribe proposed a "Cyberspace Amendment" to the US Constitution that would explicitly extend all the rights and freedoms of the Constitution to all forms of speech, regardless of the medium. The idea was brought to many of us geeks in a Dr. Dobbs article by Michael Swaine. I know what many of my fellow Slashdotters opinions probably are, but I'd like to have yours: how have our Constitutional protections held up on the Internet, in e-mail, and in WWW publishing? Do we still need a Cyberspace amendment - or do we perhaps need it now more than ever?


Will the extension of copyright continue? (5, Interesting)

Artifice_Eternity (306661) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688043)

Do you think that the gradual increases in the length of time that works can remain copyrighted (most recently the "Mickey Mouse Protection Act" of the 1990s) will continue every time that the media companies feel that they are about to lose control of some of their "intellectual property"?

Or do you think that the public interest will reassert itself and hold or even turn back some of these copyright extensions?

When a work's copyright is extended, one person (the author or the corporation that owns it) benefits. But when its copyright expires, everyone benefits by being able to copy, modify, expand on and extend it. Can we convince lawmakers with this kind of social and economic argument?

Re:Will the extension of copyright continue? (2, Interesting)

ptrourke (529610) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688144)

As a followup: is it even possible, legally, to turn back copyright extensions on existing works? For instance, could some future act which would eliminate the 20 additional years the Sonny Bono act tacked onto copyrights be applied to existing works, or would it necessarily be grandfathered?

More info on the Bono Act (3, Informative)

yerricde (125198) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688310)

Here's some more information about the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act:

Question (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688044)

Are you still a member of the Communist Party (CPUSA), and if so, why?

100 Years from Now... (4, Interesting)

Bonker (243350) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688046)

May be a futile question to ask, but we're in probably the intensest period of debate on freedom, law, justice, and crimincal conduct since the American civil war.

Since you are such a big figure in the realm of online freedom, where do you *hope* the level of online freedom is in about 2101, and where do you realistically *think* it will be?

In AD 2101 (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688336)

where do you *hope* the level of online freedom is in about 2101

Probably not very high, especially now that a war was beginning. The CEO of UniViaDisFox, Richard Cats, has declared that "All your I.P. are belong to us."

The SSSCA (-1)

Dead Penis Bird (524912) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688047)

What do you think are the chances of the SSSCA passing Congress and becoming law?

Patents, Copyright and the law community (5, Interesting)

gdyas (240438) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688051)

Dr. Lessig,

Looking from the outside in on the legal community's response or lack thereof to the constitutionality and legal basis of recent court rulings (Napster, Eric Corley), the DMCA/SSCA, etc, I see very few lawyers taking a stand against this -- there's mostly a massive shrug. There's the ACLU, the EFF of which you're a part, and Jessica Litman, and that's all I see trying to do something about the co-opting of copyright and patent lawmaking by corporations through appeals based on the interest of business, lobbyists' dealmaking, and outright graft. By and large however there seems to be little interest even amongst lawyers and congressmen about the arcana of copyright and patent law, and thus it's left to such companies and libraries because they're the only ones who both have power and care about it. Has trying to fight this caused conflict in your professional work? Is it lonely being a "vox clamantis in deserto"? What's your game plan for beating these guys back, or do you have one? There's a certain sadness and resignation in both your and Litman's writing that's very disencouraging that would lead me to think that even our flag-bearers feel there's little hope at this point.

--Gregory Dyas

Re:Patents, Copyright and the law community (1)

ignis (218763) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688304)

flag-bearers can only do so much alone. there are a couple such people who are trying to draw attention to the attacks on the internet but they can only do so much with out an army to back them. right now the public is rather indifferent about civil liberties online and they just assume use what is placed in front of them. the 'battle' will continue to be lost until more people start paying attention to what is going on.

the question i would ask you, Dyas, is what are you going to do about it?

IP Laws of the Future (5, Interesting)

Catiline (186878) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688056)

Rather than ask about current copyright/patent laws, or pending ones, I would like to know what you think the ideal Intellectual Property laws are (assume you could rewrite them as you wish). Also, what sort of international agreements would have to be passed alongside this?

Copyright Law (1)

zutroy (542820) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688062)

With the increasing ease of distributing copyrighted works, do you think that the "Fair Use" clause of copyright law will have to be modified or eliminated completely?

Doctrine of First Sale Dead? (5, Insightful)

burris (122191) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688063)

Back near the turn of the last century, book publishers printed contracts on their books, limiting the ability of the customer to resell or lend his purchases. This practice was halted by the US Supreme court and the consumers right to do what they wish with legitimately purchased copies (with certain limited exceptions) was eventually codified in the US code as part of the '76 Copyright Act.

Given that software is a work of authorship protected by Copyright law, how is it that software publishers get away with these old tricks of printing restrictive contracts on their works, claiming assent simply by using the software, denying people their rights under Copyright law?


US-Centric Laws vs. Global Internet (4, Redundant)

morzel (62033) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688065)

What is your stance on the USA trying to regulate a global medium (ie: the net)?

Is cyberspace part of some geographical territory, or should it have it's own legislation and jurisdiction (based on global interests), or will it be an anarchy by design?

As a European (Belgian) citizen, I'm wondering why US legislature is trying to take control of a network, that isn't US-only anymore for some time now. Both the DecSS/Sklyarov cases are quite frightening.

Are all these laws really needed ? (1, Insightful)

Krapangor (533950) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688069)

A large portion of most representatives of the democratic goverments in the western world come from a legal/govermental burocratic background (laywers etc.)

So I sometimes wonder if all the laws these people create are really needed. It seems that many constructions are really of academic nature. These days it seems that the internet will be drowned by overregulation. Why can't we get around with more "common sense" laws instead of trying to create thing which really cover everything ?

It seems to me that the main reason for this is that too many laywers etc. are in the goverments. A mathematican would never ever create such a heap of laws. He would just create some simple, understandable rules from which everything could be easily derived. I very often wonder if there are the wrong people in the goverment. Perhaps should we just use the proposal of Douglas Adams (of course we'll keep the telephone disinfectioners).

Bridging the "Digital Divide"? (2, Interesting)

bc90021 (43730) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688073)

With South Korean President Kim Dae-jung bringing the Digital Divide back into focus, the gap between the rich technology "haves" and the poor technology "have-nots" seems to get wider all the time.

What can we be doing "officially" to make sure that gap disappears? I know of several organisations that provide computers and technological assistance to the "have-nots", but should the government play a role? And if so, what should that be?

Internet vs. Intellectual Property... Fight! (3, Interesting)

ApoxyButt (536650) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688076)

It seems that the internet has the power to render ineffective the claims of intellectual property holders, such as authors, musicians, and software developers. A large portion of people who download music, software, etc., wouldn't actually buy the CD or game if they didn't have access to it for free. They would just do without. And in several examples (Radiohead comes to mind) musicians have released their work in mp3 format and been quite successful at making money off of that data.

Do you believe that it would be accurate to say that not much money is actually being "lost" to the internet? If so, how would you go about proving this?

Question for Mr. Lessig (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688077)

Are you still a member of the Communist Party (CPUSA), and if so, how can you justify your membership when communism has caused millions of deaths and suffering to people throughout the world?

Champ or Chump? (4, Interesting)

alphabet26 (534873) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688081)

The initial request for questions almost paints you as the Champion selected to fight the good fight of online rights. Meaning no disrespect, I appreciate people trying to be heard, but did you always want to champion a cause like this or were you drawn into it from a past incident?

Likelyhood of Seattlement getting accepted? (2)

Philbert Desenex (219355) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688089)

How likely do you think that the DoJ's proposed settlement with Microsoft will be accepted by the Judge?

If the DoJ's seattlement gets accepted over the 9 renegade state's proposal, what effect do you think the DoJ's seattlement will have?

How to make Free Software Economically Viable (1)

ajcpi (201360) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688092)

I think that the future of Free Software ultimately depends on it becoming an economically rewarding activity. Do you agree, and do you have any ideas on how that can/will come about?

Ed Felten vs. RIAA (3, Interesting)

shankark (324928) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688099)

What's your take on the case between Ed Felten and RIAA? What we saw there was a poaching on the right to pure academic pursuit to safeguard selfish corporate interests. Do you see the legal infrastructure evolving to give (pardon the pun) the underdogs the upper hand?

Inquiring minds want to know... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688102)

Tell us about your alleged homosexual relationship to one Mr. Richard Stallman. Is it true that you have renounced homosexuality and become a born-again Christian?

Non techies (1)

inerte (452992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688109)

What non-techie people, ie: who doesn't write code or is actively involved in computers, can do to help our ideas come true?

From lawyers to musicians, how can we discuss with them and present arguments that will convince them that this is a good war to fight for? Why should they 'buy it'?

Microsoft settlements? (5, Interesting)

Lumpish Scholar (17107) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688113)

What is your take on the proposed settlements in the antitrust and civil Microsoft cases? To most Slashdotters, the former seems like a slap on the wrist, the latter like a a punishment turned into a reward (increasing dominance of the U.S. education market). Is there something we're missing?

file sharing and copyright law (5, Interesting)

stevenj (9583) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688131)

What do you think of OpenNap [] , Gnutella [] , Freenet [] , Morphius [] , and similar file-sharing systems? Do you think it is legal for a person to distribute unauthorized copies of a copyrighted recording or video that way, especially if no commercial entity is involved (e.g. excluding Napster or Morphius)? Should it be legal? (Should it matter how many copies you distribute, or to whom?)

If you think it should not be legal, what remedies should the law consider, since these systems can have significant non-infringing uses as well?

prior authorization mechanism (2) (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688543)

Do you think that we have to outlaw webrowsers, ftp, irc, email that do not have a built-in check that prevents anyone from violating a copyright, trademark, or license agreement?

Leverage the knowledge of technical community (5, Interesting)

2Bits (167227) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688149)

A lot of obscure laws have been passed, and the majority of the population are not even aware of their existence. However, the technical community is watching the legislation quite closely. And we seem to understand the potential impact and risk on freedom and privacy. But the technical community has a very small influence on politics, and seems almost clueless in "playing political games".

How can we leverage the knowledge of the community to help educate politicians and the general population in terms of technologies, and the impact of the proposed bills? Briefly, how can we help better, not just sending letters to congress people or senators?

I ponder. What is really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688150)

If con is the opposite of pro, then could CONgress be the opposite of PROgress. I only see the gov't asking us not to question the actions, but i believe the gov't is only an extension of the people, or rather, a tool that enacts law or petitions by the people and for the people, are we not left to question what our gov't is going to do, because, the internet as Tim created it, was to trade information, to share knowledge and leverage the power of computers working in uniform, but by that same notion, the actuall mechanics and dynamics of the internet is nothing more than a pot full of different operating systems/enviroments/platforms. Let's be honest, do you think the conglomerates of the world are turning somthing that can be pure and beautiful, and can leverage so much potential, into a yuppie cyber mall?

Corporate vs. Individual (2, Interesting)

istartedi (132515) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688153)

This is one question, with multiple parts. Some of your defenders have asserted that you are only opposed to Intellectual Property in the hands of corporations. Is this true? Do you favor strong protection for IP produced by individuals as opposed to corporations, or are you opposed to strong IP protection generally?

Also, many people in the AIP movement frequently cite the fact that IP has not been historicly enshrined as a "natural right". However, isn't this just an academic question, important only for lawyers when formulating the basis of the law? After all, we have rights to our physical property, but that doesn't bar the government from confiscating it when such confiscation is deemed to have an overwhelming public benefit. In light of that, why do so many people in the AIP movement feel motivated to make it a point that IP is not a "natural right". My own view on this is that it is simply a rhetorical technique designed to nudge people towards the AIP movement's point of view, but I'd be interested in your take on this.

Finally, what say you to the irony of the fact that if I OCR your book and post it on line I'll get in trouble?

Informational Revolution (3, Interesting)

Marx_Mrvelous (532372) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688155)

When the industrial revolution hit, the United States saw a major change in the legal rights of industrial workers. At first the government supported the businesses, but later gave in to popular demand that workers maintain rights above the employers.

Due to popular beelifs, do you think that we are going to see a major legal shift in IT rights from business to individuals, similar to the way rights shifted about 100 years ago?

International Law (1)

r.suzuka (538257) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688164)


In the future, do you envision some sort of mechanism that will reconcile different laws between different countries when it comes to the creation and distribution of online content?

I suspect that there will be as there are already certain structures in places (such as the World Intellectual Property Organization) that seem to take steps toward this goal. However, to refine my question, do you believe we will see any organizations more oriented toward the rights of world citizens rather than multinational corporations (or zaibatsu, as one might call them ^_^)?

Thank you.

R. Suzuka

The Important Question (5, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688165)

If your fairy godmother visited you tomorrow, and would grant you just one wish, with respect to Microsoft, what would that wish be?

(For this, I'm going to beg you to ignore any nicities, political considerations, and even the Constitution. We're talking purely feelings here, intellectual rationalizations on what is either possible or likely need not apply. And since this is Slashdot, you don't even need to care if anyone likes it.)

Since everyone can't be an expert (2)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688169)

Talking about various slashdot issues with friends and family has made me realize that ensuring that (new) technologies are not detramental our social values, rights and freedoms is a very difficult cause due to the lack of knowledge by the casual user (ie, end user).

I'm curious about what you think are effective ways of ensuring that our technologies continue to uphold our basic and civil rights when the populations you are attempting to protect will never be well versed in the details of both the technologies and the cause? Or, more generically, how do you amass popular support for issues that are too complex for the popular vote to comprehend?

How long "should" IP rights last? Why? (2, Interesting)

SlideGuitar (445691) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688177)


Given that intellectual property ownership is justified by the need to provide an incentive to create new ideas, what is your view of the of the appropriate time duration of intellectual property ownership? Lifetime of human inventor/creator? Fixed period of years? Indefinite?

Is there a coherent rationale for duration of ownership other than arbitrary legistlative choice?

Also, does IP ownership serve other goals (have other justifications) besides fostering innovation, that might be met by other means more effectively?

In the event that DMCA, SSSCA and UCITA stick. . . (0)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688191)

Do you think "underground-enabled" P2P projects like Freenet using strong encryption will become more common as means to exercise free speech and circumvent these "legal" violations of the constitution? Limburgher

The Judicial Branch (5, Insightful)

lblack (124294) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688192)

I just wrote out way too long of a question, so I'm deleting and starting over.

Members of the judiciary are largely unqualified to comment or judge upon issues of a technical nature, simply because their careers do not incorporate a great deal of technical knowledge, and also because they have not sought it (and I don't blame them, probably didn't have time) on their own.

Now, they *are* qualified to comment on matters of criminality, which are supported by a huge amount of precedent, legislation, etc that has been repeatedly modified, challenged, or simply let stand.

However, there are new "crimes" coming into being, called "cybercrimes" by the buzzwordish. Our judges, lacking technical skills or a real awareness of digital culture, are passing judgement in cases that have either very loose or no precedent to be found, or that are the result of new and innovative legislature (see: DMCA).

My concern is that the judges who are making the decisions are the least qualified to do so -- that we won't have a lot of judges with a high awareness of the intricacies involved for several years. However, the judges presently seating are essentially creating a body of law to govern what they do not understand.

My question: How large of a threat will these precedents pose to the continuation or reclamation of freedoms? Will we be able to take back the ground we've alrady lost, or will the intricacies of the legal system vis-a-vis tort & precendent, ensure that we cannot?


(this one is way too long too. I just can't seem to make it fit)

Copyright law broken beyond repair? (1)

thumbtack (445103) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688193)

Have all of the piecemeal "adjustments" taken copyright law beyond repair as Jessica Litmann says in her book, "Digital Copyright"? Do we need to start over after throwing out the current copyright law, or should there be legislative attempts to correct the problems in the current law? What would be a good balance between creators rights and "fair use"?

Sir: (1)

InnereNacht (529021) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688195)

What do you think we, as a community and as a society, can do to preserve our online freedoms?

Will history repeat itself? (3, Insightful)

PsiPsiStar (95676) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688204)

In the early days of the automotive industry, GM was effectivly immune to lawsuits (what's good for GM is good for America!). In the earliest part of this century, there was an attempt by the publishing industry to prevent the resale of books. Similar events are now happening in the tech sector with attempts by the BSA to ward off liability issues related to software, laws against software resale, and even new problems such as patenting of genes and other expansions of IP law inconsistent with the goal of moving information into the public domain while rewarding its creator.

My question is; will the influence of the software industry fade as these new technologies become less new or will these trends, which seem to contradict legal precedent, only gain legitimacy as they establish a precident of their own?

A Common in Scandinavia - The Land (4, Interesting)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688211)

Here's a thought from Norway: Around here, we have a law known as "Every man's right". Basically, what it says is that you can walk, camp, pick berries etc. on any man's land, provided you stay well away from houses, drinking water and developed land. We do have quite a lot of undeveloped land here.

Effectively, as I have understood the term "common", the land, or perhaps rather the right to recreation on any land is a common around here.

While this has a very long tradition, the law has come under attack from various groups, often arguing that if no money is invested in preparing recreational areas for people, people will not be able to use the land for recreation.

Would you think that this attitude has some resemblence to the notion that without the labels, no music will be made, as there will be no money to be made from making music?

Re:A Common in Scandinavia - The Land (0)

Deus777 (535407) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688406)

Well, I know that this is supposed to be for asking questions of Mr. Lessig, but since I don't see any messages from him, and this message interests me, I'm going to reply.

I think the idea that money has to be invested so land can be "prepared" for recreation is ludicrous. Most land is fine for recreation just the way it is. No person had to "prepare" it for recreation. If everyone who uses the land follows the old boy scout motto of leaving your campsite as clean or cleaner than you found it, the land will remain preserved just fine for future generations. It's only when people are sloppy and lazy, and litter and destroy the land that money has to be invested to clean it up. Sorry, sore spot for me.

As to the music label idea, people can make money from music without a label, and people will always make music, even if there is no money to be made from it. Maybe it wouldn't be their full-time job, and there would be fewer full-time bands, but I don't think that would prevent people from making music, and from those who are good at it from making some money at it. Especially since the net now allows people to advertise and sell things much easier, I don't think it's too far out to say that in a world without record labels people would sell CD's online and ship them out themselves.

I wish I could be a karma whore. (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688268)

Please mod me up. I really want karma. Please, please, please!!! It is the only thing that make my life worth living because I am a worthless piece of crap. I really wish I could devote my life to posting nothing but +5 comments like some of you losers. I guess I will never default post to +2 because the articles on this site are so stupid that they are not even worth my time reading.

checks and balances opinion (2, Interesting)

Telastyn (206146) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688269)

Dr. Lessig,

To me it seems that for the majority of my lifetime (Reagan administration - now) has been a time where the United States government has to an increasing degree used the inherent 'checks and balances' in a much more forceful way than perhaps they were intended. To be more specific, congress seems to be passing many more laws at are questionably, and even at times blatantly unconstitutional. The large amount of time involved in judiciary process allows lawmakers to pass such questionionably unconstitutional bills knowing full well that they may only last four to eight years or so.

While this delay may have been less effective in the past, in the "Internet Age" four to eight years is enough to wildly shape emergent technologies and processes to the government's whims (which by extension is the lobbyists' whims in this day and age).

Do you feel that these 'temporary' laws (such as the new anti-terrorism bill, which I believe even has an explicit expiriation date) have a place in modern US government as it is now?

IP and Copyright Laq (1)

way0utwest (451944) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688270)

Dr. Lessig,

Any security protection will deter 80-90%of the people. Of the remaining people, 1-2% will not be deterred by anything and the rest will take advantage of the work of the 1-2%. Copy protection doesn't work in the digital world as well as it works in the analog world. It would seem that perhaps the laws governing the digitial world ought to be different from the analog world, perhaps even different for different types of digital "ideas".

What is your opinion of the best way to implement copyright, patent, or other Intellectual Property protection for authors while protecting fair use rights of consumers?

IP Holders Stifling Technological Advancement? (1)

trix_e (202696) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688271)

I've heard you interviewed several times, you've asserted that today's Music industry is deliberately trying to impede technological advancement by digging their heels in against new delivery technologies such as Napster, P2P networks,, etc. You've likened this to the Horse and Carriage industry fighting against the adoption of the automobile.

While I agree with you that these industries are obviously resistant to these sorts of technologies, I can't make the leap and say that they are stifling the technology itself. As proponents for these 'file sharing' technologies will tell you, they are content neutral. The copyright owners are resisting having *their* copyrighted material copied and distributed freely and without compensation. I don't see that they are against the technology per se.

If the only viable way that these technologies are able to develop (i.e. get funding, have sufficient network externalities to be useful as a sharing network, etc) is on the backs of the copying and trading of copyrighted material, then maybe there is no substantially non-infringing use for them. Sure, you could come up with 1000 *theorhetical* uses for the technology, but only one realistic one, which also happens to be based on infringement.

With all that said, I've burned my share of Napster/Morpheus/KaZaA mp3s, and am damn glad that VCRs weren't smothered at birth, etc. But I'm having a really hard time reconciling the two views, and when I try to argue against the copyright holders, my two solid arguments are:

1.) Copyright law has morphed considerably from what the Framer's originally intended and is wildly out of control


2.) I want a lot of free music.

The problem with these arguments is that one is arcane, and doesn't resound with too many folks and the other is, well... anyway...

Help me Prof. Lessig, you're my only hope...

EFFs pro-spam position? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688278)


Do you have any comment on the EFFs ongoing support of spammers right to spam or the EFFs defeat in their lawsuit supporting the assertion that a company cannot block a spammer if the spammer objects, as reported here [] (PDF, Spammer vs Intel)?

IP Law training for Programmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688290)

Are you aware of any formal training programs that programmers can recieve in IP Law? Certificates etc? Books are great but case law examples as covered by traditional law classes are missed.

KILL ASSCROFT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2688293)

Is it illegal to murder John Asscroft in cold blood? We all know that he has a know history of using airplanes to kill his opponents and exploits the tradedies. John Ashcroft murdered Carnahan and used the political fiasco to become the Attorney General. Asscroft hired bin Laden to launch a terrorist attack on the United States in a plot to take away as many civil liberties as he can from the populus and exploits their need for security to allow himself to become the Emperior of the World. Is it illegal to murder him given that he has the political power, and will, to force any judicial judgement to favor himself?

My question (In Korean) (-1)

ForeignLanguageTroll (529299) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688306)

, , , , , , ?

Are the editors and moderators asleep today? (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688309)

I have trolled all day long and haven't even been modded once.

Is Copyright law a sham? (5, Insightful)

bwt (68845) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688322)

It seems increasingly appearent to me that Intellectual Property law generally and Copyright law specifically, has become a corrupt instrument whereby campaign finance coffers are filled by metering out favors to large monied special interests. I am basing this on personal observation after having attempted to participate in the process. For example, I participated in several of the Copyright Office requests for public comment that produced easily 10X as many anti-DMCA comments as pro, only to see the Copyright Office ignore what seemed to me to be the clearly expressed objections of actual people in favor of the large corporations who lobbied for the bill. Worse, no serious attempt (in my view) was made to respond to the issues raised by the public. Congress is even less responsive, in my observation.

If and when I conclude that the deck truly is stacked, such that the political process producing copyright regulation is a sham, should I not also conclude that the best course of action is to engage in covert civil disobediance targeted to deprive the specific entities responsible for the corruption of profits? My question is not whether the DMCA is a corrupt law, but rather what moral obligation one has to obey a law that you earnestly believe symbolizes corrupt government.

After all, if push comes to shove, the anti-circumvention provisions are utterly unenforcable (to the point of being a joke) if they are disregarded in ways that do not attract attention. I'm not someone who has decrypted any DVD's or downloaded many MP3's, but I'm wondering what reason there could possibly be not to start.

Eleventh Circuit (2, Funny)

dickDragon (227357) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688334)

Should an eleventh circuit be established to
handle cyber cases which span geographic
boundaries and require understanding of
things not imagined before Bill Gates and
Al Gore invented the internet.

What do you think has been the underlying (2)

nowt (230214) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688340)

cause of the Justice Department's amazing propensity to approve merger's and acquisitions at a phenominal rate (since 1990's) ?.

And do you see this trend changing anytime soon, and why?

The Demise of Anonymity (4, Interesting)

jACL (75401) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688369)

The SSSCA is for now, presumed dead [] , but mutant varieties will most likely appear in the future. With the protectionist environment towards intellectual property in Congress today, future digital rights management variants would continue to provide the means to positively identify individuals online.

A lawyer friend tells me that nothing in the US Constitution grants the right to anonymity (as opposed to privacy) and that a means of identifying individuals online is inevitable. That said, do you think the OSS world should preempt efforts such as the SSSCA and provide an open means of positively identifying individuals online? Has it come down to choosing the path to walk vs. being forced down it?

Solutions to Sloppy Legislation? (2, Interesting)

Krieger (7750) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688416)

What solutions do you see to Congress's current trend of accepting legislation written by the industries that they are trying to control? (Ex: Copyright legislation written or heavily contributed to by MPAA and RIAA)

Which do you find more entertaining... (1)

rewdpost (187537) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688422)

Geeks trying to sound like lawyers, or lawyers trying to sound like geeks?

Optimism? (4, Interesting)

sterno (16320) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688436)

What trends do you see on the Internet today that give you a glimmer of hope about what the Internet is becoming? With recent DMCA rulings, the growing power of WIPO, etc, it seems like a lot of the freedoms people assumed were built into the Internet are getting eliminated quickly. So given that, what do you see that gives you hope?

Will European commons fare better? (1)

Balaitous (126540) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688452)

Background: Recent American books (Rifkin in the Age of Access, yourself) seem to leave little hope of avoiding a tragedy of enclosures. In Europe, the common good of information and software commons benefits from a wider and more politicised support. This is not due to a difference in industry: European corporations are as keen on building enclosures. But there is a stronger resistance in public opinion. Can it suffice, and help with the US situation?

Silence... (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688497)

Given how easily the ACLU gets up in arms about very small issues related to things like the 10 commandments on plaques, buildings, etc., why do you think that we aren't reading about the ACLU attacking bad legislation or proposed legislation(s) such as the DCMA, UCITA, the SSSCA (?), etc. ?

The question of harm. (5, Interesting)

caduguid (152224) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688509)

In round two of Valenti vs. Lessig a crucial question arose but due to the to-and-fro of debating was only addressed anecdotally.

The question was one Valenti posed to you. To paraphrase it roughly: "Who cares? I would like someone to explain to me what harm is being done to the world by Mickey Mouse's copyright being extended twenty years. How does that harm anyone's ability to be creative or incentive to be creative."

In the debate you only had the opportunity to present an anecdotal response. (A teacher whose class film projects couldn't be shared due to copyright infringement fears, I think.)

Beyond the anecdote, however, a clear answer would be very helpful. We can all see that the copyright extension bargain was one-sided: copyright holders profited and the public gained nothing. We see the inequity in the action, we sense that the fix was in, and we resent it. But resentment over seeming corruption and the copyright holders' good fortune can only take us so far.

A clear conception of direct harm to the public might be far more persuasive than the secondary harm of the copyright holders getting a really sweet deal. I kept hoping during the debate that the opportunity would come for you to address the question more fully, but it never did.

Destroying the DMCA (2) (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688516)

If the government refuses to prosecute a SPAMMER (in the USA) for violating the DMCA can we use that as a start to destroy the DMCA?

member ownership? (1, Interesting)

twexter (527979) | more than 12 years ago | (#2688541)

Could a thriving member-owned multinational, VISA, serve as some kind of organizational template for a global trade in ideas?

The SCSL, Jini and more recently the Liberty Alliance seem to be somewhat inspired by the member-owned "chaordic" model. What if such a model were applied to Napster? What if participants who added extra value could earn extra rewards? Could such a model decrease legal friction encountered when trying to add value to copyrights?

(btw -- Visa's founder, Dee Hock [] , believes that if member-ownership had been extended to all participants, including merchants and cardholders, Visa would be an $8 trillion business today.)
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