You've Got to Love Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence%20Lessig.jpgI love the accomplished Stanford Professor Lawrence Lessig's grasp of the new media vs. the old and in particular this excerpt from his column in Wired Magazine, "A Costly Addiction" dated November of 2006. When this site sets forth the notion that protectors of the past, particularly as it relates to copyright protection, are battling the creators of the future there are few more capable of portraying the realities of this battle than this legal mind who wrote:

"Of all the things that have not gone according to the framers' plan, perhaps this is the most significant. Practically everyone in Washington, DC, is now dependent in precisely the way our founders feared. All but a few members of Congress devote the majority of their time to raising money for reelection. Doing the job we've hired them to do – governing – takes a distant second place. A good politician comes to understand precisely how much his campaign will gain or lose with each decision he makes. Like rats in a scientific experiment learning which lever delivers food, politicians learn the complex dance that keeps them in office.

So it should be no surprise that this dependency (or corruption, as it ought to be called) has begun to permeate the institutions that support policymaking, including academia. In the recent congressional hearings on telecom and network neutrality, for example, 77 percent of the nongovernmental testimony was from commercial or trade organizations directly dependent on the result – meaning less than 23 percent came from sources that were even arguably neutral. That figure will continue to fall until the only people heard in DC will be those who have a direct financial stake in the outcome they plead. Independent policymaking will be as common as powdered wigs.

The answer is obvious to anyone watching the history of policymaking as it affects the Internet. The winners have been the industries most skilled in playing politics (read: the content industry); the losers have been the ones focused more on innovation than on sucking up to Congress (read: much of the technology industry). Those losers, though, are the future; the winners, the past. And it takes an extraordinarily perverse view of progress to think that protecting the past is the best path to the future."

View his site and read his book.