Lawrence Lessig has already transformed intellectual-property law with his Creative Commons innovation. Now he's focused on an even bigger problem: The US' broken political system.
Lawyer and activist Lawrence Lessig spent a decade arguing for sensible intellectual property law, updated for the digital age. He was a founding board member of Creative Commons, an organization that builds better copyright practices through principles established first by the open-source software community.
In 2007, just after his last TED Talk, Lessig announced he was leaving the field of IP and Internet policy, and moving on to a more fundamental problem that blocks all types of sensible policy -- the corrupting influence of money in American politics.
In 2011, Lessig founded Rootstrikers, an organization dedicated to changing the influence of money in Congress. In his latest book, Republic, Lost, he shows just how far the U.S. has spun off course -- and how citizens can regain control. As The New York Times wrote about him, “Mr. Lessig’s vision is at once profoundly pessimistic -- the integrity of the nation is collapsing under the best of intentions --and deeply optimistic. Simple legislative surgery, he says, can put the nation back on the path to greatness.”
Read an excerpt of Lessig's new book, Lesterland >>
“[Conservatives] go to church, they do lots of things for free for each other. They hold potluck dinners. … They serve food to poor people. They share, they give, they give away for free. It’s the very same people leading Wall Street firms who, on Sundays, show up and share.”
“[Conservatives] understand: There are places for the market and places where the market should not exist, where we should be free to enjoy the fellowship of others. They recognize: Both of these things have to live together.”
“All of the great Disney works took works that were in the public domain and remixed them.”
“[The U.S. has] an economy of influence — an economy with lobbyists at the center, which feeds on polarization. It feeds on dysfunction. The worse that it is for us, the better that it is for this fundraising.”
“When the pundits and the politicians say that change is impossible, [we must say,] ‘That's just irrelevant.’ We lose something dear … if we lose this republic, and so we act with everything we can to prove these pundits wrong.”
“You don't wake up one day no longer a racist. It takes generations to tear that intuition, that DNA, out of the soul of a people.”