Larry Lessig on Escaping the Country of the Blind (O'Reilly E-Tech, Part 4)

I’m back in San Francisco now after four overstimulating days at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology conference. One of the things that made the conference so enjoyable was the rock-star lineup of speakers, including Danny Hillis, George Dyson, Neil Gershenfeld, Cory…

Mar 18, 2005

I’m back in San Francisco now after four overstimulating days at the O’Reilly Emerging Technology conference. One of the things that made the conference so enjoyable was the rock-star lineup of speakers, including Danny Hillis, George Dyson, Neil Gershenfeld, Cory Doctorow, Clay Shirky, James Surowiecki, Chris Anderson, and (as an added surprise) Jeff Bezos. But the slickest talk of the week by far was given by Larry Lessig, Stanford law professor and de facto intellectual leader of the movement to undo the effects of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Lessig gave the morning keynote speech on Thursday (March 17). He compared Congress and the Big Media companies to the blind villagers in the H.G. Wells story “The Country of the Blind,” who decide that the only way to stop a sighted visitor’s misbehavior is to remove his eyes. His point being that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and other, even more draconian proposals for controlling the technologies of digital distribution are threatening to undermine our historic right to “remix” elements of our culture into new creations.

I took fairly complete notes on Lessig’s speech, which he’s also given at several other conferences recently. Again, because the notes are too long to present here in the TR blog, I’ve posted them at my personal blog.