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Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig

Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig

     Lawrence Lessig (born June 3, 1961) is an American academic and political activist. He is a professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society. Lessig is founding board member of Creative Commons and is a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and of the Software Freedom Law Center. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trade- mark and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applica- tions. At the iCommons iSummit 07 Lessig announced that he will stop focusing his attention on copyright and related matters and will work on political corruption instead. This new work may be partially facilitated through his wiki — “Lessig Wiki” — which he has encouraged the pub- lic to use to document cases of corruption.

     At the end of his review of my first book, Code: And Other Laws of Cy- berspace, David Pogue, a brilliant writer and author of countless technic- al and computer-related texts, wrote this: Unlike actual law, Internet software has no capacity to punish. It doesn't affect people who aren't online (and only a tiny minority of the world population is). And if you don't like the Internet's system, you can always flip off the modem.

     On December 17, 1903, on a windy North Carolina beach for just shy of one hundred seconds, the Wright brothers demonstrated that a heavier- than-air, self-propelled vehicle could fly. The moment was electric and its importance widely understood. Almost immediately, there was an ex- plosion of interest in this newfound technology of manned flight, and a gaggle of innovators began to build upon it.

     At the time the Wright brothers invented the airplane, American law held that a property owner presumptively owned not just the surface of his land, but all the land below, down to the center of the earth, and all the space above, to "an indefinite extent, upwards." 4 For many years, scholars had puzzled about how best to interpret the idea that rights in land ran to the heavens. Did that mean that you owned the stars? Could you prosecute geese for their willful and regular trespass?

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