Lessig on Culture and Change

Larry Lessig was busy last week: he was in New Zealand for the LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aoteatora) conference, flew back to California to man the phone banks for the Presidential election, and then spoke at Web 2.0 Summit. Fortunately, several of his talks were recorded.

Monday night he gave a public talk at Auckland University, sponsored by University of Auckland Law Faculty, the Legal Research Foundation, and the University of Auckland’s Department of Commercial Law. I was in the audience for this, and it was vintage Lessig: culture, remix, legal reform but not abolition. His framing was brilliant, and everyone cheered at the end. The Law Faculty blog wrote about it, there was a great write up on Public Address blog, and there’s a clip on Vimeo. I saw official looking video cameras, but I haven’t been able to find the online video yet.

On Thursday, back in the US (maybe it was Wednesday back in the US, curse that dateline) Lessig gave a High Order Bit at Web 2.0 Summit. He spoke about corruption, focusing on quickly making the connection between money, trust, and independence explicit. It’s short, hard-hitting, and fit perfectly with the “Web meets World” theme of Web 2.0. All the Web 2.0 Summit talks are online at blip.tv, including Lessig’s talk. The talks are also available on YouTube including Lessig’s talk.

But earlier, on Tuesday, Lessig keynoted the LIANZA conference. He spoke about corruption in the context of libraries, libraries as anchors of trust and independence and the ways in which copyright, like money, erodes trust and independence. It was brilliant, and the video is online (albeit with a Windows codec). It’s 1h12m in length, so pour yourself a warm tea.

You even get the question and answer session at the end, in which he addresses New Zealand’s latest Copyright Amendment Act which adds takedown provisions for alleged copyright infringement. In no uncertain terms he condemns it. “I don’t know if you recognize this but you guys are at the edge of the world […]. The idea that you would start cutting off internet access to people sitting at the edge of the world is crazy. […] Allowing these random cutoffs of your connection to the rest of the world to define the future of New Zealand Internet is just crazy, so I hope that Government rethinks this before they march forward with this demand by copyright holders to push you back into the Dark Ages.” Amen, brother!