Lawrence Lessig

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Lawrence Lessig

Born: June 3, 1961
Rapid City, South Dakota, USA
Occupation: Founder, Creative Commons
Founder, Stanford Center for Internet and Society
Professor, Stanford Law School
Spouse: Bettina Neuefeind

Lawrence Lessig (born June 3, 1961) is an American academic. He is currently professor of law at Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications.


[edit] Academic career

Born in Rapid City, South Dakota, Lessig earned a B.A. in economics and a B.S. in management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. (an undergraduate degree) in philosophy from the University of Cambridge (Trinity) in England, and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

Prior to joining Stanford he taught at the Harvard Law School, where he was the Berkman Professor of Law, affiliated with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and the University of Chicago Law School. Lessig is considered a liberal, but he clerked for two influential conservative judges: Richard Posner and Justice Antonin Scalia.

[edit] Attitudes

Lessig has emphasized in interviews that his philosophy experience at Cambridge radically changed his values and career path. Previously, he had held strong conservative or libertarian political views, desired a career in business, was a highly active Teenage Republican serving as the Youth Governor for Pennsylvania through the YMCA Youth & Government program[1] in 1978 and almost pursued a Republican political career.

What was intended to be a year abroad at Cambridge convinced him instead to stay another two years to complete an undergraduate degree in philosophy there and develop his new liberal political values. During this time, he also travelled in the Eastern Bloc, so acquiring a lifelong interest in Eastern European law and politics.

Lessig refuses to embrace the usual libertarianism typical of Internet culture. While Lessig remains skeptical of government intervention, he favors judicial activism and regulation by calling himself "a constitutionalist."

[edit] "Code is law"

In computer science, "code" typically refers to the text of a computer program (i.e., source code). In law, "code" can refer to the texts that constitute statutory law. In his book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Lessig explores the ways in which code in both senses can be instruments for social control, leading to his dictum that "Code is law."

[edit] "Free Culture"

Lessig presenting "The Ethics of the Free Culture Movement" at Wikimania 2006.
Lessig presenting "The Ethics of the Free Culture Movement" at Wikimania 2006.

In 2002, Lessig was awarded the Award for the Advancement of Free Software from the Free Software Foundation (FSF), and on March 28, 2004 he was elected to the FSF's Board of Directors[2]. In 2006, Lessig was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences[3]. Lessig is also a well-known critic of copyright term extensions.

He proposed the concept of "Free Culture"[4]. He also supports free software and open spectrum[5]. He is founder and CEO of the Creative Commons and a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. At his "Free culture" keynote at OSCON 2002, half of his speech was also about software patents, which he views as a rising threat to both free/open source software and innovation. Lessig is on the board of directors of Software Freedom Law Center, launched in February 2005.

[edit] Wiki-related activities

In March 2006, Lessig joined the board of advisors of the Digital Universe project[6].

Lawrence Lessig gave a talk at the 2006 Wikimania.

[edit] Personal life

He is married to human rights lawyer Bettina Neuefeind and they have two sons, Willem Dakota Neuefeind Lessig, who was born on September 7, 2003[7], and Teo Elias Neuefeind Lessig, who was born on January 15, 2007[8].

In May 2005, it was revealed that Lessig had experienced sexual abuse by the director at the American Boychoir School which he had attended as an adolescent. Lessig reached a settlement with the school in the past, under confidential terms. He revealed his experiences in the course of representing another student victim, John Hardwicke, in court.[9] In August 2006, he succeeded in convincing the New Jersey Supreme Court to radically restrict the scope of immunity that had protected nonprofits which failed to prevent sexual abuse from legal liability.[10]

[edit] Trivia

Lessig appears as a character in a 2005 episode of the television political drama The West Wing ("The Wake Up Call", season 6, episode 14). Lessig's character, portrayed by Christopher Lloyd, is intended to be a realistic depiction including such details as citing his book The Future of Ideas and his expertise in Eastern European constitutional law. (Lessig's comments on his blog)

[edit] Notable cases

[edit] Books written

[edit] External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
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[edit] Columns

[edit] Interviews

[edit] Audio/Video