Lessig's Legacy: Only Halfway There
Lessig, who dreamed up the Copyright Commons and evangelized on behalf of "Free Culture," is turning his focus to the influence of money in politics.
For my money -- or should I say "for my free license"? -- Lessig, like many other "digital visionaries," has advanced only one half of a good idea. He waged a rhetorically pure battle against corporate hoarders of intellectual property. But he never quite came to terms with the reality that as long as IP continues to exist (and it always will), independent creators need to be empowered to assert them against big-money interests.
"Information wants to be free" is a fine shibboleth. A more subtle and accurate formulation, I think, is that new technology creates opportunities for information to be more free than before, and for cultural delivery platforms to be diversified and vitalized.
The second part of that equation seems to have escaped Lessig and his followers, who went the slogan route and contributed to the carcicaturing of freelance writers' assertions of their rights to a fair share of the revenues generated by the electronic database companies -- the subject of our class-action copyright objections. And without that second part, we're left with the line from the old song by the Who: "Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss."