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The Corrupt Price of Education

January 20, 2009

Lawrence Lessig Takes on New, Bigger Challenge

Lawrence Lessig is the man most turn to when discussing the open source internet era. LessigLessig, of course, is the author of “Free Culture” and the founder of the Creative Commons.

The brilliant legal mind spent years pushing the intellectual-property envelope, seeking to break down the barriers that might limit current internet innovations by rethinking copyright laws as they exist today. The lawyer had the audacity to insist that the current concerns surrounding copyright infringements in the new media arena was not one debating artistic freedom and protection. Instead it was about control.

But with brilliance clearly comes the desire for new challenges. And so Lessig has taken on a new focus as he moves from the West Coast where he served as a professor of law at Stanford University to the East and in his new position at Harvard University.

Emphasis on Corruption
Having previously taught at Harvard Law, the move to the Stanford of the East (as Harvard is often dubbed by left-coasters) was not the real surprise. The biggest shock with Lessig has come from his shift in intellectual pursuits, to a new topic based on an age-old problem, corruption.

Building Trust

Clearly, one key component to rebuilding trust will be to examine the current practice of business funding university research. While many schools have come to see funds from the business sector as necessary to their survival as research institutions, under Lessig’s model any school that accepts such funds is likely no longer able to assert its independence.

SimSullenAnd if the school cannot assert independence, then all respective faculty members likewise lose their ability to insist they are independent.

Lessig’s ability to get us all to rethink intellectual property has served the Opensource movement well. We truly hope that he can have a similar impact on the political and academic world.

Because restoring public trust in our political and academic institutions is essential to our society meeting the enormous challenges of the 21st century.

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