Larry Lessig Officially Considers Run For Congress

from the vote-lessig dept

Earlier this week, there was plenty of buzz going around concerning an effort to draft Larry Lessig to run for Congress in the seat opened up by the unfortunate passing of Rep. Tom Lantos in the 12th Congressional district in California (most of San Mateo county). I pretty much brushed it aside as idle speculation, but Lessig has now admitted that he is seriously considering a run for Congress and has put up a website with a video concerning a potential run. I don't agree with Lessig on plenty of things -- and I'm not even sure he could win such a campaign -- but it's hard not to like the idea of Lessig in Congress. Considering how often we see politicians who grandstand and have little knowledge of key important issues, it would be quite a feat to get someone like Lessig into office. Recently, Lessig has been focusing on trying to deal with the problem of political corruption. Some might think it would be a much more difficult challenge from the inside than from the outside -- but it's rather appealing to think he might have the ability to shake things up inside. Of course, plenty of good people have gone to Washington DC with lofty intentions and come back beaten by the system, but it's hard not to think that Lessig has a chance to actually make a difference. Even if Lessig were to run and lose, just by running, he can help push his fight against the inherent corruption of our current political system into the public debate.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    John, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 1:21am

    Lessig for President

    I Love his thoughts and ideas, I dont agree with his party, but his mind is what is needed in Washington desperately.

     

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  2.  
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    Gene Hoffman, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 1:49am

    Which district?

    If Larry is running that means he'd be running against Anna Eshoo as I'm pretty sure Larry didn't get gerrymandered into Lantos' former district out of Eshoo's as I did.

    Anna would be a hard democrat for Larry to unseat unless she was willing to step aside. I know she's thought about that before but that's the current reality.

    -Gene

     

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  3.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 20th, 2008 @ 2:20am

    Re: Which district?

    If Larry is running that means he'd be running against Anna Eshoo as I'm pretty sure Larry didn't get gerrymandered into Lantos' former district out of Eshoo's as I did.

    He's made it clear that he'd be running in Lantos' district, the 12th, not Eshoo's, which is the 14th.

    I recognize that he works in the 14th, but I'm not aware of where he lives. Either way, the two districts are quite close, and I'm sure he could move a few towns north into the district if he needed to.

     

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  4.  
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    dorpus, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 2:32am

    Funny

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but Silicon Valley's economy depends on intellectual property. While techies like to loudly complain about the music industry's intellectual property, tech companies would be nothing if anybody could copy software or hardware designs whenever they wanted. Strangely, nobody complains about the intrusive anti-piracy software that comes with applications.

     

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  5.  
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    zcat, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 4:00am

    Re: Funny

    Stupid comment.

    There is not one single tech company today that is making a profit from untouched 14-year old code. Copyright could be rolled back to a term of 14 years (without even the option of extending it another 14 years) and it would not make one bit of difference to the tech industry.

     

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  6.  
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    Shaun, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 4:01am

    Re: Funny

    Oh so it looks like all those commercial Linux distros couldn't possibly be making and money with everyone, even their competitors copying their software for free. Yep I'm sure they're going to collapse any day now.

    Really.

    And as for "nobody complains about the intrusive anti-piracy software that comes with applications" what planet have you been living on for the last decade?

     

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  7.  
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    zcat, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 4:13am

    14 years ago today..

    According to the timestamps on www.kernel.org's archive, 14 years ago Linux was somewhere close to version 1.0

    14 years ago Windows 95 wasn't even out.

    I don't think that the Linux community or Microsoft would be the slightest bit damaged if these ancient relics were to fall into the public domain. Although to be honest, I don't think the public domain would be particularly enriched for having them either!

     

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  8.  
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    dorpus, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re: Funny

    There is not one single tech company today that is making a profit from untouched 14-year old code. Copyright could be rolled back to a term of 14 years (without even the option of extending it another 14 years) and it would not make one bit of difference to the tech industry.

    Really? Microsoft hasn't?

    Oh so it looks like all those commercial Linux distros couldn't possibly be making and money with everyone, even their competitors copying their software for free. Yep I'm sure they're going to collapse any day now.

    Has Linux made more money than Microsoft? Or did anyone who made any money to speak of in Silicon Valley base it on intellectual property rights?

    And as for "nobody complains about the intrusive anti-piracy software that comes with applications" what planet have you been living on for the last decade?

    For the last decade, techdirt has meticulously complained every time someone at RIAA went to the bathroom. Where is the comparable outrage for commercial software that has far greater anti-piracy measures built in?

     

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  9.  
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    Ferin, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 5:01am

    Tough sell

    He'd be a tough sell in any district or state. His lofty notions are wonderful, and I think he'd be great, but whoever his consituencies might end up being, I think they'd end up tired of watching their rep or senator fighting for so many other people's interests. He'd do better to seek a position on the bench, I think.

     

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  10.  
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    comboman, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Funny

    There is not one single tech company today that is making a profit from untouched 14-year old code. Copyright could be rolled back to a term of 14 years (without even the option of extending it another 14 years) and it would not make one bit of difference to the tech industry.

    Really? Microsoft hasn't?

    2008 - 14 = 1994

    Do you think Microsoft is making any money selling Windows 3.1, MSDOS 5.0 or Word 4 this year?

     

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  11.  
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    dorpus, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 6:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Funny

    Do you think Microsoft is making any money selling Windows 3.1, MSDOS 5.0 or Word 4 this year?

    It is making plenty of money on legacy code and copyrights from 1994 carried over into today's products.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 6:10am

    It would take a lot for me to believe that with all the problems our country has that copyright or IP rights should be a major issue for our govt.

    Corruption maybe, IP? Get in line.

     

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  13.  
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    John, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 7:01am

    Amen AC

    Terrorism, collapsing economy, world order, nahhhh let's bicker about who owns this and what they wish no one could do with Their stuff!! oh and lets spend and fine billions in the race, what the heck, its not like the housing market is about to collapse. Oh yeah.... Hey thats MINE !!!

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Wolfger, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Funny

    Dorpus, don't be an idiot. If there *is* any 14-year-old code in Windows (which I doubt, considering the change in hardware since then), it's hardly the sort of groundbreaking code that anybody would want to steal, much less pay for. Microsoft makes money by continually adding new code, not by reselling old crap. Letting 7-year-old code lapse into the public domain would not hurt any software company in any significant way.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Funny

    The windows command shell has not changed at all in the 14+ years I have used windows.

    Regardless, Silicon Valley gave birth to Microsoft, which created the world's richest man, and continues to make plenty of money from its copyrighted, intellectual-property-protected software. Silicon Valley did not give birth to Linux or make any money to speak of from it.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 7:30am

    Wolfger, one would say if no one wants to pay for something, much less steal, what difference would it make if it were put into the public domain?

     

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  17.  
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    greg, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 7:38am

    who is Larry Lessig

    I have never heard of this guy.
    Who is Larry Lessig?
    Anyone outside of his family know who he is?

     

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  18.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Feb 20th, 2008 @ 8:41am

    Lessig Should Run

    If he should get elected, there would be a voice of opposition in Congress. True, as one person he may be easily out-voted but he would also be in a position to force the issues to be debated in a more open manner. This would provide the public with better disclosure of the issues involved. The media may even improve on its reporting of how consumers are getting screwed.

     

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  19.  
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    JW, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Funny

    The windows command shell is significantly different. Every try running old programs that run in the command shell environment? Ever hear of a program called dosbox?

    By your comments, my intuition tells me you may use software, but have never really coded any.... which wouldn't make you an authority on software life cycles by any means.

    Office 2007 is completely rebuilt with code to support legacy versions of itself, including office 2003. If anything old software and legacy data formats are a burden on new software.

    The examples of why your comments are so far removed from reality go on and on

     

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  20.  
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    dorpus, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Funny

    By your comments, my intuition tells me you may use software, but have never really coded any

    Then your intuition is wrong. I have 10 years of experience as a software engineer, and continue to code every day in my new career as a statistician.

    Office 2007 is completely rebuilt with code to support legacy versions of itself, including office 2003. If anything old software and legacy data formats are a burden on new software.

    In other words, it contains legacy code from 14 years ago for backward compatibility. So Microsoft has and continues to make plenty of money from its for-profit, patented software -- just as other Silicon Valley companies made their fortunes on proprietary, patented Unix operating systems. Intel, EOA, etc. etc. all make money from their patented intellectual property, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

    Just because less educated techies are unable to see the bigger picture does not change the economics of Silicon Valley.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Jason Still, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 10:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Funny

    So Microsoft has and continues to make plenty of money from its for-profit, patented software -- just as other Silicon Valley companies made their fortunes on proprietary, patented Unix operating systems. Intel, EOA, etc. etc. all make money from their patented intellectual property, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.


    weren't many of those companies already making their fortunes before software was patentable?

     

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  22.  
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    zcat, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 10:38am

    legacy code

    Would it matter if DOS 50. were Free, but you still couldn't use it 'in windows' because windows wasn't.

    Semi-hypothetical example;

    Consider what would have happened if, on the day Microsoft launched Windows 98 some significant portion of the windows codebase was already public domain. For example, what if the entire networking stack and associated utilities were completely free for anyone else to copy? Let's make this even easier. What if the entire network stack SOURCE CODE were available as well, so that it was even practical for someone else to use that code in a different product.

    I guess sales of Windows 98 would have been severely impacted in a situation like that, right?

     

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  23.  
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    Steve R. (profile), Feb 20th, 2008 @ 10:40am

    Re: who is Larry Lessig

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 11:05am

    Re: Lessig Should Run

    The media may even improve on its reporting...

    Let me guess, you are thinking about this example of a representative speaking out for their constituent. Another representative saying this doesn't make any sense might attract some attention from journalists.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 11:33am

    Re: legacy code

    Sure would with the code being released and others working with it they could find bugs or flaws in the code and ways to optimize the code so it would have less overhead and be able to handle more connections at a faster rate improving network connections

     

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  26.  
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    Nick, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 4:01pm

    Lessig!!

    Anyone who is a fan of this blog or cares about our eroding freedoms that governments-in-the-pockets-of-corporations that are preached against here on Techdirt on a daily basis must read Lessig's work. His most seminal work, Free Culture is available as a free download in many formats such as pdf, text file, and audio book, at free-culture.cc. You can also listen to may of his greatest speaches on IT Conversations and his great presentation at TED 2007.

    Lessig is a law professor. To my knowledge, he would have no conflicts on interests in this position, and it would be hypocritically if he did becuase that is what he fights against.

    I am rather puzzled that you disagree with some of Lessig's points, Mike. I almost see the two of you on equal standings as authorities on tech IP issues/consumer freedom, along with Cory Doctorow. Mike, come on, you have got to be ecstatic by this idea unless you are somehow emotionally detached from the points you make on this blog. Or, perhaps you are just refraining from over-emotionalizing this news.

     

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  27.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 20th, 2008 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Lessig!!

    I am rather puzzled that you disagree with some of Lessig's points, Mike.

    I think it would be rare for two people to totally agree on everything. As I said, I *do* support much of Lessig's work, but I disagree on some of it. He sometimes suggests policy ideas that are not economically reasonable (he approaches them more from a legal POV rather than an economic one -- which is understandable, given his background -- but doesn't make it right).

    He is also in favor of "balanced" copyright, which I think is a path to a dead end. He tends to think that copyright is generally good, but has been turned bad. I tend to think that it's generally unnecessary, and made worse over time.

    I am not convinced that publicly financed elections are the right path to ending corruption.

    That said, as hopefully I have made clear, I find him to be both well informed and intellectually honest. I certainly agree with him much more often than I disagree with him and I would hope that, if he chooses to run, and if he wins, he would do a world of good.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    bvpb, Feb 20th, 2008 @ 9:19pm

    To those who claim that there are bigger issues than copyright, check out

    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html

    We are definitely heading down this path already and work needs to be done to stop the commercialization of information. Information needs to be free, by allowing companies to own information which should be publicly available we place our future in the hands of an entity whose sole purpose is to make money. They can then decide what information we're allowed to receive to further their own interests.

    The thought of not being free to learn what I want, or make comments or criticisms of corporations or governments is much scarier than terrorism, war, or financial crises.

    Kudos to Lessig for getting amongst it, like Mike I don't agree with everything he is about, but it's definitely a good start.

     

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