Lawrence Lessig is one big thinking lawyer. For the past 10 years he’s worked on straightening out the screwed up intellectual property (IP) rules in the world, and help found Creative Commons, which allows people to decide for themselves how their content can be reused.
For example, I don’t care if people repost photos from my Flickr account on their own blog or use them in a report about Croatia. I’d just like to receive credit for the photo. But if someone wants to use one in a magazine, I’d like to be paid a fair price for the use. Creative commons helps make sense of issues like this by allowing content creators to set their own rules on how their content can be used.
However, along the way, he’s come to realize that simple ideas have a tendency to turn into complex divisive debates when they reach Washington, DC. Her refers to this as “corruption of the political process”:
In one of the handful of opportunities I had to watch Gore deliver his global warming Keynote, I recognized a link in the problem that he was describing and the work that I have been doing during this past decade. After talking about the basic inability of our political system to reckon the truth about global warming, Gore observed that this was really just part of a much bigger problem. That the real problem here was (what I will call a “corruption” of) the political process. That our government can’t understand basic facts when strong interests have an interest in its misunderstanding.
Lessig plans on trying to figure out how to fix – or, at least, improve – the current corruption of basic facts. That’s one heck of a bold idea.