Larry Lessig is something of a hero of mine. He’s a Harvard law professor who started out campaigning against modern intellectual property extremism that is locking up our culture and making creativity and innovation more and more difficult and more and more expensive. He created the Creative Commons to give artists a way to contribute to a free culture that they benefit from, despite laws which make that increasingly difficult.
A few years ago, though, he stopped fighting the battle against copyright extremism.
He stopped because he realized that increasingly overreaching copyright laws were merely a symptom of a much larger problem. It, along with inaction on climate change, pizza being classified as vegetables, ruinous deregulation and subsequent bail-outs of the financial industry and hundreds of other dysfunctions in American government were going to continue unless it is addressed.
The problem, as he sees it, is that people in government spend nearly as much time seeking campaign contributions as anything else. That large contributions grant access to the political process that ordinary citizens can’t hope to have. And that cynicism about this is so widespread, no-one in America believes that government can solve any real problems anymore.
I’d encourage you to watch the video above. He makes a very compelling argument.
And if we’re feeling smug as Canadians, well, we do do at least some of this right. The Harper Government has already erased some of the Crétien era campaign finance reform, however. And the US State Department exerts considerable sway in Ottawa, enough to get US-style copyright legislation like Bill C-11 passed. We are not immune.
Even if SOPA and PIPA are defeated, it’s inevitable that something like them will be passed eventually. Because Congress will eventually obey their paymasters as soon as it politically expedient to do so. It’ll happen unless the system is changed. Unless we are persistent and vigilant.