Crafting for the Movement

Someone pointed out to me today that Professor Lessig has a post on his blog about the Register article I wrote about recently (although I removed that post as a courtesy given the crafting discussed below). He seeks to clarify a whole slew of things about which he believes he was misquoted, and I take him at his word. This is, of course, the problem with appearing in the foreign environment of people who disagree with you, debate gets a bit heated. Particularly when you are the personification of the philosophical underpinning of the pirate “movement” and are, I would argue, in large part responsible for encouraging the acts that have ruined the lives of thousands of people in the music business who have been laid off, ripped off and generally screwed by folks whom Professor Lessig lionizes. One might even find oneself disliked.

Apparently the professor believes that one would have to be uncharitiable to believe that the Register suggested he was employed by Google. I would invite you to read the piece for that conclusion. (And by the way, the article is really, really funny and goes in the “trebles all round” category as far as I’m concerned.)

Whatever conclusion you draw, I would think that there would be no doubt that the clear implication of the Register piece is less that Lessig is employed by Google, but more that Lessig is in Google’s pocket because his organizations get millions of dollars from Google, and that Lessig defends Google nearly every chance he gets. He has certainly taken many, many, many public positions in support of Google’s extreme views on copyright, and some might spectulate that it is more likely that Lessig informs Google more than Google informs Lessig. So let us not get sidetracked by the bright and shiny object of whether Lessig in fact represents Google in a formal sense.

I don’t know how much any of this matters, because, as the professor once said in closing of one of his many presentations “We’re bigger than them [sic]”, meaning, I would suppose that Google is bigger than the creative community. While not exactly news on the level of man bites dog, that’s certainly true.

I’m feeling particularly sensitive to the implications of all of this because I had yet another independent artist come to me today asking me to help them get their material down from illegal sites. I told them that thanks to people like Professor Lessig, the Pirate Bay is unlikely to give a tinkers damn about them or the economic effect the piracy has on the artist’s ability to feed his newborn. I’m sure Professor Lessig’s family eats just fine, in no small part due to his support for The Man.

There is some comfort in supporting The Man, I guess, and Google must have a market cap that is greater than the GNP of many, many countries–The Man on steroids. So it probably made the professor feel good and warm and cozy to remind his listeners that not only was their cause just, they could make it stick, too, because they were bigger than these little artists because they had Google in their camp. (Of course he may have meant the tech sector as a whole, but I doubt that he would think that Microsoft, Intel, Apple, and other industry leaders who work closely with the creative community to help us would truck with his views.)

Now he claims not to “represent” Google. I take him at his word. But did I not read that Google funded the Stanford “Fair Use Project”? And did I not read that the Fair Use Project was suing Viacom over its DMCA notices in Viacom’s litigation against…Google?

Hmmm. Now there’s a distinction. Congresspersons have been savaged by Lessig’s “movement” for less of a conflict.

But wait…Professor Lessig tells us in his blog that “the suggestion of a conflict in The Register’s piece has, however, led me to craft a disclosure statement that I should have published…long ago.”

“Craft”.

“Craft”. “Long ago.”

Hmmm.

If there’s no conflict, then what needs to be crafted? In fact, if there’s no conflict, you say there’s no conflict, and if there really is no conflict, then what further needs to be said?

Much less “crafted”.

George Shultz had a great line about lobbyists. “It all starts with a cigar.”

Crafted.

Indeed.

We can hardly wait. The anticipation is nothing short of unbearable.