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Stephen Downes

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Lawrence Lessig is shifting his focus. He writes, "the real problem here was (what I will call a 'corruption' of) the political process... our government can't understand basic facts when strong interests have an interest in its misunderstanding." It's this sort of thing that has prevented, he writes, progress in the copyright arena. "No public regarding justification could justify the extraordinary deadweight loss that such extensions impose. Yet governments continue to push ahead with this idiot idea -- both Britain and Japan for example are considering extending existing terms. Why? The answer is a kind of corruption of the political process."

In support of this, Lessig has also released a disclosure statement describing his "non-corruption" principles. "Lawyers at one time had a professional ethic that permitted them to say what they believe. Now the concept of "business conflicts" -- meaning, a conflict with the commercial interests of actual or potential clients -- silences many from saying what they believe. Doctors too are hired into jobs where they are not allowed to discuss certain medical procedures (See, e.g., Rust v. Sullivan). Researchers at 'think tanks' learn who the funders are as a first step to deciding what questions will be pursued. And finally, and most obviously, the same is true of politicians."

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jun 21, 2024 04:09 a.m.

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