Home > Uncategorized > Lessig waffles in the lion's den: the architecture of copyright stifles creativity, but abolition of copyright is "wrong"

Lessig waffles in the lion's den: the architecture of copyright stifles creativity, but abolition of copyright is "wrong"

On November 4, copyright expert Lawrence Lessig gave the keynote talk at the World Intellectual Property Organization’s meeting in Geneva meeting on “Facilitating Access to Culture in the Digital Age”. Lessig points out how modern copyright clashes with creativity, and pushes for WIPO to launch a “blue skies” commission “to frame a sensible framework for copyright in the digital age”. I have posted his talk below; I note that Lessig welcomes comments at [email protected].

Who is Lessig? The WIPO’s bio for Lessig notes:

Lawrence Lessig is the director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, and a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Prior to returning to Harvard, he was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. For much of his career, Professor Lessig focused his work on law and technology, especially as it affects copyright. His current work addresses “institutional corruption” relationships which are legal, even currently ethical, but which weaken public trust in an institution. He has won numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, and was named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries. He is the author of Remix (2008), Code v2 (2007), Free Culture (2004),The Future of Ideas (2001) and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (1999). He is on the board of Creative Commons, MAPLight, Brave New Film Foundation, Change Congress, The American Academy, Berlin, Freedom House and iCommons.org, and the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation.

Lessig gave a similar talk at a TED conference in November 2007 (Larry Lessig on laws that choke creativity; TED describes Lessig as “one of our foremost authorities on copyright issues, with a vision for reconciling creative freedom with marketplace competition” (emphasis in original):

No expert has brought as much fresh thinking to the field of contemporary copyright law as has Lawrence Lessig. A Harvard professor and founder of Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, this fiery believer foresaw the response a threatened content industry would have to digital technology — and he came to the aid of the citizenry.

As corporate interests have sought to rein in the forces of Napster and YouTube, Lessig has fought back with argument — take his recent appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court, fighting the extension of copyright protection from 50 to 70 years — and with solutions: He chairs Creative Commons, a nuanced, free licensing scheme for individual creators.

Lessig possesses a rare combination of lawerly exactitude and impassioned love of the creative impulse. Applying both with equal dedication, he has become a true hero to artists, authors, scientists, coders and opiners everywhere.


“Lessig has built a reputation as the king of Internet law and as the most important next-wave thinker on intellectual property.”

New York Magazine

Here’s his WIPO talk:


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.