Lawrence Lessig Quotes

Lawrence “Larry” Lessig

Born: 3 June 1961, Rapid City, South Dakota

Raised in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, he earned a BA in Economics and a BS in Management (Wharton School) at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983, an MA in Philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1986, and a JD at Yale Law School in 1989. Despite having come to a liberal perspective during his time at Cambridge he clerked for two conservative judges, Richard Posner of Chicago’s Seventh Circuit and Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court. He has taught law in Budapest, Berlin, and Tokyo as well as at the University of Chicago, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, and now back to Harvard. More readable than most attorneys, he has been a columnist for a number of tech-focused magazines including The Industry Standard, Red Herring, and Wired. He is best known for his work in the area of intellectual property law, arguing that the current efforts of the rights owners to control all copying of their work, and the ever-lengthening terms of copyright, represent far more control than was ever given in the past and is endangering the public domain. His current academic focus is “institutional corruption”, influences that may not be directly pay-to-play corruption as seen in earlier eras but weaken public trust and the effectiveness of institutions.

Lawrence Lessig quotes:

“Writing” is the Latin of our times. The modern language of the people is video and sound.
    Lawrence Lessig – Wikimania 2006

A culture without property, or in which creators can’t get paid, is anarchy, not freedom.
    Lawrence Lessig

A free culture has been our past, but it will only be our future if we change the path we are on right now.
    Lawrence Lessig

A free culture is not a culture without property; it is not a culture in which artists don’t get paid. A culture without property, or in which creators can’t get paid, is anarchy, not freedom. Anarchy is not what I advance here. Instead, the free culture that I defend in this book is a balance between anarchy and control.
    Lawrence Lessig – Free Culture (2004)

A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted. The character of an era hangs upon what needs no defense.
    Lawrence Lessig – The Future of Ideas (2001)

All around us are the consequences of the most significant technological, and hence cultural, revolution in generations.
    Lawrence Lessig

All around us are the consequences of the most significant technological, and hence cultural, revolution in generations. This revolution has produced the most powerful and diverse spur to innovation of any in modern times. Yet a set of ideas about a central aspect of this prosperity — “property” — confuses us. This confusion is leading us to change the environment in ways that will change the prosperity. Believing we know what makes prosperity work, ignoring the nature of the actual prosperity all around, we change the rules within which the Internet revolution lives. These changes will end the revolution.
    Lawrence Lessig – The Future of Ideas (2001)

Americans have been selling this view around the world: that progress comes from perfect protection of intellectual property. Notwithstanding the fact that the most innovative and progressive space we’ve seen — the Internet — has been the place where intellectual property has been least respected. You know, facts don’t get in the way of this ideology.
    Lawrence Lessig – “Code + Law: An Interview with Lawrence Lessig” (29 January 2001)

As we’ve seen, our constitutional system requires limits on copyright as a way to assure that copyright holders do not too heavily influence the development and distribution of our culture.
    Lawrence Lessig

Before the monopoly should be permitted, there must be reason to believe it will do some good — for society, and not just for monopoly holders.
    Lawrence Lessig – “May the Source Be With You” in Wired (9 December 2001)

Believing we know what makes prosperity work, ignoring the nature of the actual prosperity all around, we change the rules within which the Internet revolution lives. These changes will end the revolution.
    Lawrence Lessig

But it is as silly to think about peer-to-peer as applying just to music as it would have been to think about the Internet as applying just to pornography. Whatever the initial use of the technology, it has nothing to do with the potential of the architecture to serve many other extremely important functions.
    Lawrence Lessig – “Code + Law: An Interview with Lawrence Lessig” (29 January 2001)

Code plus law is combining to reduce rights consumers used to have.
    Lawrence Lessig – “Code + Law: An Interview with Lawrence Lessig” (29 January 2001)

Common sense is with the copyright warriors because the debate so far has been framed at the extremes — as a grand either/or: either property or anarchy, either total control or artists won’t be paid.
    Lawrence Lessig – Free Culture (2004)

Companies will often use the legal system to scare people away from attacking them. But we all should be free to make critical statements about anybody, unless those statements are malicious.
    Lawrence Lessig

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