March 23, 2006


Category: F/OSS,IP Law — @ 2:04 pm

So it seems like in the world of free and open source law and politics at least every 8-10 weeks there is a fresh controversy to hit the press. And the current one is over Lessig’s endorsement of DRM:

“In a world where DRM has become ubiquitous, we need to ensure that the ecology for creativity is bolstered, not stifled, by technology. We applaud Sun’s efforts to rally the community around the development of open-source, royalty-free DRM standards that support “fair use” and that don’t block the development of Creative Commons ideals.”

Already on Lessig’s blog there are a few attacks and others are starting to manifest.

For now I will just display the controversy. I see this as possibly an interesting turning point for the acceptance of Lessig’s politics in the wider world of free (note not open source) politics. In my work, I characterize Lessig as the Pasteur of the open source movement, at least as described in the work of Bruno Latour . He took what was a pretty esoteric and geeky world, and initiated a series of events, projects, and translations, that helped bring free software to a wider world and audience.

Now that this domain has been unleashed, there are now responses back and as part of these, we see stronger pockets of resistance and opposition to a Lessig-like politics. I imagine they will cohere even more strongly in the coming years, reshifting, yet again, the poltics of free and open source software.


  1. I think this process is better understood through the work of Laclau and Mouffe who would argue that Lessig has been involved in a Logic of Equivalence which is now breaking down as he struggles to maintain hegemony in this discourse. He has actually backtracked a bit on his website but still, this might have been a step too far for the free culture/software side of the constituency…

    Comment by David — March 24, 2006 @ 5:07 am

  2. I wished I had seen this post this morning. I just met with Lessig today. He gave a lecture here at RIT. I’m just not familiar with the ins and outs of his work enough to comment further. Free Culture is currently sitting towards the top of my “to-read” pile, so perhaps by summer I can get a better bead on him. I will say that he’s one hell of a speaker. He’s also doing his best to strattle the arguement. And that typically is an unsustainable position.

    Comment by Matt Bernius — March 24, 2006 @ 3:47 pm

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