Chided for not being enough of a Rootstriker

Joseph writes to ask me to stay root-focused: 


Recently, a friend chided me for being overly concerned with the issue of corruption in Congress and in the Executive branch of our government while ignoring the other important issues confronting our country. He’s forgotten, perhaps the issues on the need for generating more wealth in the private sector, on useful stimulus vs. wasting money, on taxing the rich, and on the increasing burden of our debt and its inevitable consequences. But he’s right in one respect: I do believe that corruption is the biggest elephant in the room. Further, I believe that until this elephant is put down, we have no reason to expect other problems to be resolved in the interest of the American people. So here’s my response:

Dear Friend,

In the early days of logging in New England, trees were cut in the winter as snow was necessary for transporting logs to the edges of rivers and streams where they would be piled up to await the spring floods. At that time, the logs were pushed into the water to be floated downstream to mills and ports.

Along the way, there were numerous narrow spots, at which men were posted with pikes so as to assist the logs through. In spite of their efforts, logjams occurred, and it became the duty of the foreman to locate the KEY log and remove it with a pike. Loggers knew that to move other logs was worse than pointless because more logs would continue to pile up in the jam until the KEY log was removed. When the foreman was successful, he had to run for his life across moving logs. When he failed, dynamite had to be used (and no, they did not use Chinese for this work—a tidbit of history)

All the best,


As an optimist, and Rootstriker, I fantasize about what will happen when Lawrence Lessig and others are successful, and we get rid of government by special interests. As a realist, I wonder what life will be like if we don’t, and how can my children, grandchildren, and all those I care about, preserve a decent quality of life?

Meanwhile, go to the poles, but do not vote for candidates of either party for national office, to do so would merely validate the system, and the pols and special interests will continue to have their way with us (never change a winning game). Fill in a real name, or leave it blank. And staying home is not an option, doing so adds power to the special interests in a perverse way.

Ben Franklin, when asked whether we had a republic, or a monarchy, replied,

“A republic, if you can keep it.”

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10 Responses to Chided for not being enough of a Rootstriker

  1. Karl says:

    In Chicago. [check]
    3 Finals on Wednesday. [check]
    Going to see the Aimster arguements? [ ]


  2. ed says:

    older but wiser. happy b-day.
    hope 1 of your wishes comes true.

  3. Aaron Swartz says:

    Any idea on the procedure for attending? Get there early? Wait in line? Or is it so big everyone will fit?

    Or when it will start? (The website seems to only have Friday’s calendar.) Can you come approx. when the case will start or do you have to stay through from the beginning?

  4. If it is capable of a substanial noninfringing use, then the question of balancing (which is always at the core of copyright) is left up to Congress.

    Given Congress’s predilection lately for favouring companies’ self-interests above those of the commons, and especially given the elimination of “leeway” (as David Weinberger puts it) in technologically-mediated enforcement of rights, I’m not so sure this is necessarily a good thing in all respects. For instance, digital enforcement mechanisms tend to forget about “fair use” and “first sale” in their implementations. Could it be possible that the legislative process may be somehow tainted by corporate copyright holders?

  5. Lessig says:

    It is “not necessarily a good thing” but it is better than courts deciding the issue. It at least turns the issue into a political issue, and saps the moralisms from the debate.

    Re mechanics: You can come when the case is expected. There is not usually much of an audience. But this may be different. I’m surprised the clerks office doesn’t have a better schedule, but it is because the judges aren’t announced till the day of argument. So you apparently need to call the clerks office to get the timing.

  6. Aimee Deep says:

    The notice we received from the Seventh Circuit said the oral arguments would be at 10 AM, with each side given 20 minutes for argument. But of course as Professor Lessig says, there was no notice of which Judges might be on the panel.

    I hope to see any friends there!

  7. john doe says:

    When the Law, and Justice abandons real Persons (as opposed to corporate ficta) then the People thus aggrieved go elswhere.

    But without Law, they have to take guns with them instead. Their propensity to take cash along, however, continues to be a proposition with dwindling returns. Other means of trade and barter work better and better as this lunacy unfolds.

    Perhaps corporations should no longer be considered legal persons? That might put a small finger in this eroding dike.



  8. Aimee Deep says:

    Time Change!! Just found out when I got home from school that the time of the Oral Argument is now 9:30 AM – it’s now the first argument of the day… and I’m also told the Court always starts right on time!

    There’s a link for directions to the Courthouse on my Aimee Deep blog. Please say hello if you can make it!

  9. curious says:

    Can someone say more about how we know when courts should decide something, versus Congress?

    Is it right to think of Eldred as a case where many of us thought that the Court should trump Congress, arguably because of a Constitutional limit, but perhaps more honestly because we are afraid that big business is too represented in Congress whereas the public domain is rather ignored?

    But if Congress is the wrong institution there, why is it the right institution here? And how do we know? The answer can’t be “because a court told us so” — that is just too circular. Is it because copyright requires so much balancing? But has not Congress explicitly and implicitly assigned that job of balancing to the courts, for example by making “fair use” an equitable test with suggested factors but few clear lines?

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