According to the story, when the commission issued a subpoena to a firm that was related to Cuomo, Cuomo’s aid contacted a commission co-chair and told him, “This is wrong” and then “Pull it back.” The commission then did.
Cuomo has already marked himself as the reform community’s biggest disappointment — grabbing reform headlines with an ethics commission that he then hobbled, and then teasing reformers with the promise that he would get public funding of elections passed — only then to sabotage that as well.
But this — if true — crosses a pretty important line. Many of us saw the tragedy of Eliot Spitzer as just that: a tragedy, because whatever demons led him to his wrongful and hypocritical act, they sapped America of an incredible force for change.
The corruption here is different — and much much worse. If an aid to the chief corruption reformer in NY has corruptly interfered with a corruption investigation, then NY doesn’t need that “corruption reformer” anymore — because that’s not what he is.
If this charge is true, then this is a governor who believes himself above the law. THAT is the keystone of corruption.
The Democrats had a chance this year to mark themselves as the party of reform (I hope not too much, or not too exclusively, because reform will only come if supported by Democrats, Republicans and Independents all, but movements need leaders, and it is good the Dems lead). But if this charge is true, then Cuomo destroys the party’s chances here. “Here’s a young, NY ‘reformer,’ in the tradition of not Teddy, but Tammany.”
If the charge is true, then Cuomo should go: as quickly as Spitzer did, for the hypocrisy here is worse, and so the party can get on to electing its next governor — hopefully this time, one honestly focused on reform.
A week ago today, we watched as thousands raised more than $1.5M for the #MaydayPAC — a commitment to fundamental reform in the way Congress funds its elections. It was electrifying and amazing, and many of us heard the first fireworks as we crossed our $5M goal.
But it just so happens that the most important money in politics race this year may not be in Congress, but in New York: Zephyr Teachout is challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo because of his failure to deliver on his promised corruption reform and public funding for state elections.
If you’re a supporter of the #MaydayPAC, you should be supporting Zephyr and Tim. And if if you’re not a supporter of the #MaydayPAC but still a supporter of fundamental reform of the way money corrupts our politics, you should be supporting Zephyr and Tim. I know both of these amazing souls well. Tim is a former student of mine, and gave birth to the “network neutrality” debate. Zephyr has been an incredibly important inspiration for my own academic work and activism. I met her first when she was working for Howard Dean.
Today is an crucial fundraising deadline for the campaign. If you can help, please do TODAY. Maybe we can start a weekly anti-corruption rally. Last week #MaydayPAC. This week Zephyr & Tim.
Overflowing my inbox is a single question: What’s next?
Next is selecting the candidates. We’ve been looking at this for months, but there is tons to think through before we make the choice.
Here’s the simplest first step — though there are many steps after this:
Q1: Is the candidate credibly on the right side of reform.to?
If so, then it is not possible that they’ll be someone we’re trying to remove.
If not, then it is not possible that they’ll be someone we’re trying to elect.
There’s little fudging in the “credibly” qualification: the commitment one way or the other has to be believable. But beyond that, this is a pretty good first step to understanding the universe of possible targets and support.
In other news, today begins some time away with my family. Can’t wait.
For the last week, I have been fighting furiously something I was 100% confident about: that we would not make it. That $5M was too big. That I was mistaken in setting the goal to high. And that this incredible movement of now close to 25k contributors would stop.
This morning, at 4am, I was doing everything I could to find a way to make it. White knights, etc., anything to get us to the $5M. But again, I was 100% certain we couldn’t get there.
But then, obligation intervened. My family and I had to race to Amherst, NH to walk in a parade with the #NHRebellion. Then the same in Merrimack. And again, for the whole parade, I was thinking about what I could possibly do to make it so we could make it.
The parade is over. I’m sitting in a Dunkin Donuts (“what’s the healthiest thing you have?,” I asked. “I take the 5th,” said the guy behind the counter), with a coffee, and an internet connection. And after conferring with the data mavens, here’s what I believe.
BELIEVE. Not “believe,” in that bullshit sense that anyone in a campaign says, but BELIEVE in the sense of this is what I think is true:
That we can make this. We have raised $1M in 1 day. We have 14 hours of Independence Day in America left (THANK YOU, Hawaii!). We are collecting donations faster than at any time so far. And we have less than $800k to go.
WE CAN MAKE THIS. It will take an INCREDIBLE effort by everyone, but if everyone presses, we can do this. Only with extraordinary effort, but with extraordinary effort, we will.
I can’t quite believe it. But it is true. It is the truth. We can make this.
So Craig, founder of Craig’s list, is famous for doing his own customer support. I’ve recently learned how hard that can be.
In a rookie mistake, when we set up our Stripe account to service the MaydayPAC account, I put in my cell phone number. Stripe then put that on the credit card charge. Because we charged people in May long after they had pledged (because our campaign was contingent, and we would only collect when we got the $1M matched), it was weeks between a pledge and someone seeing the bill on his or her credit card.
So many people call my cell phone to complain. It’s striking how similar these conversations are. Usually there is someone who is incredibly angry. They’re sure I’ve stolen their credit card number. But within 10 seconds, the usually (90% of the time) remember and are then insanely apologetic. I get a great chance to thank them for their contribution. It usually ends on a happy note.
But during the heaviest call period, I put a special message on my phone explaining the same thing, and asking people to leave a message if they wanted me to call back. For two weeks people called, and no one left a message.
But then I discovered (for reasons I’ll explain later) that my voice mail box had been rerouted, they had not been getting the message, and I do not have access to any messages they might have left. Two weeks of non-responsiveness — Craig would have me fired!
If you’re one of the people who called (unlikely, I know, as if you’re reading this you should know what the MaydayPAC is), I apologize. The first lesson of great customer service is DO NOT LOSE ACCESS TO YOUR VOICE MAIL BOX.
Every so often, but increasingly frequently, a character named “Brett Glass” returns to the twitter space to assert that I am a “lobbyist” for Google. E.g. (and this is just a sample: this stuff goes back for years)
2014-06-01 04:09:47: @GeorgeRussert I never got the notice that Lessig speaks on society’s behalf. (He doesn’t. He speaks on Google’s behalf.) @alaskarobotics
2014-05-11 22:08:46: @VictorLicata1 @lessig, in particular, has served as a de facto paid corporate lobbyist for many years. He knows the game and participates.
2014-05-11 17:22:58: @antonejohnson Both @Vanschewick and @lessig lobbied for Google to get more funding for @StanfordCIS. Academic dishonesty. #NetNeutrality
2014-05-11 01:39:25: @mitchellkoch Oh, yes, @lessig is supported by tech. Specifically, by monopolist Google, for whose #NetNeutrality regs he lobbies.
2014-05-09 19:58:26: @livebeef Among other things,@lessig has exhibited academic dishonesty while serving as a de facto lobbyist for Google. @JoshuaStaples
2014-05-01 18:44:28: @EBagsLOLZ You don’t have to believe a thing I say about @lessig; you can follow the $ from Google to schools to him. #Rootstrikers #MayOne
2014-05-01 18:32:40: lessig And then you went to Harvard and are a fixture at Berkman, a think tank that lobbies for Google’s corporate agendas. @ebagslolz
2014-05-01 18:30:24: @lessig I watched as you spoke on behalf of #Google at the FCC’s en banc hearing at Stanford. @ebagslolz
2014-05-01 17:09:28: @EBagsLOLZ Could write a book on it. Not gonna do it in 140 chars. But @lessig is well known as a #Google shill. #Rootstrikers #MayDay
2014-05-01 16:45:37: @EBagsLOLZ Nonsense. @lessig is a lying corporate lobbyist trying to separate the gullible and their money. #Rootstrikers #MayDay
2014-04-03 16:21:1: @adamjwhitedc Corruption: When an academic such as @lessig claims to be expert in “ethics” while acting as a paid corporate shill.
it would be forgivable for someone reading this stuff to think that I get money from Google. That, after all, is the ordinary meaning of words like “paid corporate shill,” “de facto lobbyist for Google,” etc. And so have many inferred from Brett’s words, and at least some of them have written me angry emails about my “betrayal” and the like.
In fact, however, I have never received any compensation for anything from Google at all. And what’s surprising, given what he says above and elsewhere, is that Brett knows this.
In 2011, I asked him why he was saying what he was saying. In an email to me, he acknowledged that by saying I was a “paid corporate shill” or “lobbyist for Google,” he didn’t actually mean I was being paid by Google, or paid to lobby for Google. What he meant instead was:
You know as well as I do that Google has given big bucks to the institutions where you have worked, many of which have found their way into your paychecks.
Even this, however, is wrong. I asked Brett what money the EJ Safra Center (which I direct) received from Google. None, he acknowledged. But Google “has also funded Berkman for many years.” Maybe, but I am not part of the Berkman Center, and certainly haven’t received money from the Berkman Center. Ok„ Brett says, but Google had given money to Harvard, and Harvard pays my salary, so Google is therefore paying me. But wrong again: Google hasn’t given money to Harvard (or at least so I was told by Harvard). So in absolutely no truthful sense of the term am I being “paid” by Google.
But, Brett says,more than a decade ago, Google gave money to the Stanford Center for Internet & Society, and I was the director of the Center when they did. That’s true, and that’s precisely the kind of funding that we at the Safra Center are studying and if done improperly, criticizing.
Yet again, Brett has the basic facts wrong. I came to Stanford with a contract that created a Center, and gave me no fundraising obligations for the Center. After I came, and again, without any tie to me or any relation to my work, Google gave money to the Law School, which it used to pay for the Center. That money didn’t affect my salary (that was set independently of the Center); it wasn’t my obligation to raise that money for the Center; I didn’t raise that money for the Center; the Center would have existed and functioned exactly as it did with or without that money. In a word, then, I was independent of that money.
How research is funded, however, is an important issue to me. Again, it is the focus of the Lab I run at the Safra Center on “institutional corruption.” And it is the reason I first articulated the standard by which I do or do not accept money for my work. (See “Disclosure” here.) I’ve yet to see anyone argue that the standard I have set in that document is insufficiently independent.
FInally, perhaps in an effort to update his campaign to facts less than a decade old, Brett has taken up the fight against the MaydayPAC. It turns out. in the strange world of Brett, this too is part of the grand Google conspiracy. As he wrote on 26 June (and many other times since we launched):
@lessig uses #MayDayPAC to lobby for Google’s regulatory and legislative agendas.
Of course the MaydayPAC has no lobbyists. Neither is its aim in 2014 to lobby for anything. It’s aim in 2014 is to make 5 races turn on the issue of “fundamental reform in the way Congress funds its campaigns.” If we’re successful, then in 2016, we’ll do the same at a much bigger level, with the aim of electing a Congress committed to fundamental reform by 2016. If we’re successful in that, then we’ll push for that reform — and only that reform. And once that reform is passed, we will push for whatever constitutional changes might be necessary to secure the reform that we have helped to pass.
Google may or may not like reform. I don’t know. I hope they do. I hope every right thinking sort does. But whether they do or not doesn’t make me a “lobbyist” or “shill” for Google.
I’m not sure why — of all the causes that there are in this world — Brett has made this sort of slander his personal mission. And my ordinary practice in cases like this would be to ignore it.
But to the extent his assertions confuse people who might support our work with the MaydayPAC, I’ve got an obligation to respond to them.
The Good Fight: Ben Wikler's podcast about AaronSw, me and the #MaydayPAC
On my way from Colombia to SF, I land in Mexico City at 3:30am. As I had gotten on the plane, I realized the last time I was in Mexico, I receive a call from Ben Wikler, telling me Aaron was gone. (here’s the followup post) This time, when the plane landed, Aaron was back. Here’s Ben’s beautiful, wrenching, and amazing podcast, pulling together the path from Aaron to a #MaydayPAC.
A friend is in a recount fight in Maine. She’s not a friend of some pretty powerful interests and lobbyists. She needs a good ME election law lawyer, ideally pro bono. Email me at lessig at pobox dot com if you can help?
We are closing the first week of of the second round of the #MaydayPAC kickstarter campaign. The conclusion of the week: Not fast enough.
Part of this is our (insanely hard working) team — we’ve been tinkering (maybe too much) to get higher conversion rates, and are learning too slowly that what seemed to us as improvements weren’t.
Part of this is me — all of this is too me-centric, which makes my failures costly. I did a new round of videos for stage two which are all much less effective (in converting views to pledges) than the original. I’m reluctant to spend the money to try again, but this weakness has been important.
Part of this is all of us (you included) – for the fact is, we are raising money faster than the original challenge, in the sense that this time we’ll cross $1M in less than 2 weeks. But because our target is so big, it doesn’t seem like that. For as our advisors advised me again and again, $5M seems way too daunting. Daunting depresses.
But (and acknowledging this may be the total lack of sleep speaking here) I am still confident we can do this.
The team has found the sweet spot — I’ve never worked with a harder working and more talented team. And with the help of literally scores of volunteers (and the amazing Optimizely), we are honing in on a much much better site design with much much better conversion rates.
The project is bringing others on — we’ve got an amazing mix of new content rolling out over the next two weeks, including some fantastic new partners (to add to Jason Alexander) and new content (explaining all this better than I can).
In the end, this is about the numbers — we can see how much in pledges we inspire with each view of the webpage. That translates into a target number of views. We’re rolling out a range of strategies to get us way above that target. If we can do that quickly enough, we will hit our goal.
It might be that some big bumps are essential on the way, and that if we don’t get them, we won’t cross. Maybe only @StephenAtHome can save U.S.Maybe it’s only a comedy channel that can end the tragedy we call D.C. And so obviously, we’re doing everything we can to get within their scopes. But the strategy is as the strategy has always been: try 10 things, each of which should work, and at the same time. (The only thing I’m missing in that is an obvious technique for shutting down at night to sleep).
If you’re here, you’re in this with us. Thank you. If you’ve got ideas, share them below. But I’d be grateful if you do whatever you can to share this one thought in whatever way you can say it best:
We need you to take a chance on our democracy — now. If we don’t meet our goal, you get your money back. If we do, (there’s at least a chance that) you get your democracy back. If 100k take this chance, then we will can prove what I already deeply believe: that we can win this fight. By 2016.
I LOVE THE PLATFORM. The technology gives readers the chance to comment (and correct — GRATEFUL for the discovers of tiny typos) at the paragraph level. Comments are short, but that forces real comments. The idea of the platform the platform really achieves — it is the beginning of a conversation with readers, much more seamlessly and effectively than the standard post+with+flamewar+in+comment+section pattern of blogs, etc.
In theory, at least. I apologize to those who have written great comments so far. Some bug is blocking my ability to comment back (the replies are not being saved). My editor tells me they’re working on it. I’m hopeful they’ll get it fixed soon.
Weekly Money in Politics Picks (aka, Politic$ Picks) Newsletter
I’m going to try to produce a weekly newsletter about the stuff I think most important/relevant/least widely shared in the domain of “money in politics.”
The newsletter comes out once a week (Saturday morning). It will have three items only. No more than one will relate to stuff I’m involved with (and usually none will). The first one is below. You can subscribe below that:
Today, I launch a weekly newsletter — SHORT, just three items each week, with NO collateral asks — about the ongoing battles to reduce the influence of money in politics. I will publish the email every Saturday morning (except for the times when I’m away with my family), and in it I will collect the stories from the week that I think are particularly interesting to those who care about this cause. I read everything I can about this issue, from many different sources. My hope with the newsletter is to share what I’ve found most interesting. I promise, no more than one of the three things published each week will be related to me, and rarely will I point to even one.
This is a totally free (and ccFree) OPT-IN list. You’re getting this today because you joined Rootstrikers. But you will only get it again if you subscribe here. And that subscription list will not be used for anything else — never to solicit, never shared, never added to any other campaign. The only thing this subscription will deliver is this once-a-week email — until you say “enough already.”
I hope you find it of interest!
“Could be the most important money-in-politics campaign of the year”
That’s what a New Yorker whose views about NY politics I find most compelling said about the potential candidacy of my friend, Zephyr Teachout, for Governor of New York. Governor Cuomo (D) has been a serious disappointment to reformers. He promised, and then sabotaged (in the view of many) legislation to change the way elections are funded in New York. Had that legislation passed, it would have been a model for the nation. That it failed convinced too many that insiders can’t fix themselves. Zephyr is a law professor at Fordham Law School, who organized for Howard Dean. She is easily the most impressive young (potential) candidate for anything I’ve seen anywhere. She’s brilliant, and incredibly politically savvy. And if enough push her, she may well challenge the Governor in the Democratic primary. I hope she does, because if she does, she would make money in (NY) politics the issue in this campaign season. Her speech to the Working Family Party Convention is here. There’s a website that’s trying to convince her to run. And contributions are being taken here. Nothing is certain, and she needs to be convinced there is enough grassroots support to make it make sense (#RunZephyrRun). At a minimum, this is a race to watch — because it just might turn out that this time around, Teddy (Roosevelt) is played by a woman.
The best tool for tracking THE MONEY behind THE POLITICIANS in THE STORY I’ve seen
Nick Rubin is a high school student. His father, a longtime friend and senior lawyer at Microsoft, pointed me to a plugin Nick was building to scan the page you’re reading in a browser, and highlight the names of Members of Congress. When you hover over the name, you see from whom the Member gets his or her money, what percentage of the Member’s money comes from small dollar contributions, and whether he or she has committed to fundamental reform (drawn from the site reform.to). Easily the coolest plugin that I use, now available for free. You can get it at AllAreGreen.US. (The website concatenates the site’s great slogan: “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.”)
A deep dive on Super PACs
I’ve written three books, gaggles of articles, gaggles^2 of essays, and a billion (or so) tweets about the problem with the way we fund campaigns in America today. But on the launch of our Mayday PAC, I was pushed by many to commit to writing a medium-length piece pulling the arguments together. I did. It is published, appropriately enough, on the cool new platform, Medium. You can read it here. (And if I were soliciting, it would be here I’d say something like “pledge if you can” but you see, I’m not doing that.)
That’s all for the week. If you’ve got stuff I should see, email it to email@example.com (if I use anything, I will always give credit where credit is due). And remember, you will only get this again if you subscribe here.
Nick Rubin is a high school student. His father, a longtime friend and senior lawyer at Microsoft, pointed me to a plugin Nick was building to scan the page you’re reading in a browser, and highlight the names of Members of Congress. When you hover over the name, you see from whom the Member gets his or her money, what percentage of the Member’s money comes from small dollar contributions, and whether he or she has committed to fundamental reform (drawn from the site reform.to).
Easily the coolest plugin that I use, now available for free. You can get it at AllAreGreen.US. (The website concatenates the site’s great slogan: “Some are red. Some are blue. All are green.”)
Remember, these “fat cats” are spending their money to reduce their own political influence. If we’re successful, their investment will have lessened their power to influence politics. Not to zero, of course. And likely not to the influence of “the average joe.” But certainly much much less than they have in this SuperPAC democracy.
I talk about the nature of this sacrifice at the end of my essay for Medium:
A billionaire who spends his or her money to reduce her own influence is giving us, the People, something enormously valuable: our democracy back. It’s not that we need to be grateful for that gift. But I do believe we should respect it. We need them to make this reform possible. They need us to understand its effect, even if we can never be certain of its motive: They will have less, so we can have more.
On sleepless nights and long walks in thought — #MaydayPAC strategy
I spent my birthday walking with the incredible team behind the CA March for Democracy. Kai Newkirk from 99Rise organized this 480 mile trek from LA to Sacramento. He had walked with us in NH, and I was eager to see the meme of walking for reform spread.
The day gave me lots of time to think through the most difficult decision to date about the #MaydayPAC: How we raise the next $5M.
For in truth, $5M is more than 5 times $1M. The challenge — and the risk — is much much greater. Many on the team are afraid that we will get part of the way, but because this is an all or nothing campaign, we’ll lose what we get. Some were pushing me to restructure the plan into a series of $1 million campaigns — 5 in all — so that if we get just $2M or $3M, we’ll still have at least that.
I was a tough decision, and like every such decision, one I may well regret. But it felt there was an issue of integrity here — this is what we, or I, said we would do. So to resolve it — finally — I made this 2 minute video in the field where our walk ended (after a shower, and a couple calls with friends, just as the sun was going down, and with a supersized fly (representing dark money I think) added for free).
I walk with Kai, and the March for Democracy, on my birthday — 20 miles or so through central CA in the sun (and stupidly, I forgot a hat), WHILE YOU join and spread the #MaydayPAC Thunderclap. One friend for every mile — 20 at least.
It’s almost midnight. The car leaves at 5:30 to get to the starting point. Drop the zero, and you have my true age — and the true number of people you need to recruit to the Thunderclap.
Thunderclap is an incredible tool built by a friend to coordinate social messaging. You set the message, and it will send your message to your friends and followers at the same time it sends the message of everyone else to all their followers. Think of it as a Superbowl ad for the Internet — but free! And they don’t keep any of your personal information, and certainly don’t keep the list of your friends!
I’m excited and incredibly proud of my friend Zephyr Teachout for shouldering the enormous burden of standing up to a so-called “progressive” Governor who has been so terribly weak and ineffective in his push for reform.
I’ve known Zephyr for more than 15 years. She would be an incredible and amazing Governor. And, most importantly, she would be a fierce and unbending supporter of reform.
Cuomo’s behavior — especially towards people in this movement whom I respect as much as I respect anyone in this world — has been unworthy. It is time for Democrats to unite around reform. Removing a faux reformer would be an important first step.
The “Daily Caller” (let’s call that DC for short, since the DC style is in its DNA) gave the #MaydayPAC about 350 words Sunday — not quite aimed at the truth, but then again, the truth is not part of the business model of modern media.
The piece says we’re “an attempt to prevent political action committees – except his – from influencing elections.” Not true. We’ve attacked “superPACs” — not political action committees. A SuperPAC is a PAC that can raise unlimited contributions (the source of the problem I’ve spent endless bits trying to explain). Political action committees are a flavor of democracy.
The piece says we will match the >$1M (we’ve raised from 13K individuals with a median contribution of $50) with “a few huge contributions from ultra-wealthy supporters he refuses to name.” “Refuses”? Where is this “refusal”: When the match is announced, the supporters will be named. Every contributor (greater than $200) will be named.
The piece rightly points out that I’m critical of a system in which our politicians spend endless time raising campaign funds from the tiniest fraction of the 1%. But it wasn’t clear to me: Does the DC like that system? Because DC certainly does.
But the piece does convince me that at least some need a clearer argument to understand the virtue in “embracing the irony.”
We are using the system to change the system, because we believe the existing system destroys representative democracy (aka, the Republic).
Some think there’s something wrong with using a system you believe is wrong to fix that wrong.
But I wonder whether those people think it was wrong for people to organize whites to extend the franchise to blacks. Or whether it was wrong to organize men to extend the franchise to women. In both those case, I would have said the existing system was wrong. But in neither case would I have hesitated to use it to achieve a system I don’t believe is wrong.
That’s what we’re doing. We didn’t create the system in which the nation outsources the funding of campaigns to the tiniest fraction of the 1% — and now, indirectly, to SuperPACs too. It has been grafted onto Madison’s Republic. But have no hesitation at all in using that system to restore Madison’s Republic. That is what the #MaydayPAC hopes to do.
I’m a Hachette author. Republic, Lost was published by them. But you might have read there’s some sort of spat between the publisher and Amazon. The result: the authors lose. (Here’s Hachette’s statement; Amazon has not said anything.)
Stage 2 of the #MaydayPAC challenge — $5 million in 30 days — will launch at the beginning of June. We’re trying to find the best tweet for the Thunderclap. This incredibly cool tool lets you estimate which tweet would do better. Can you spare some cycles to use it to test your RT creativity?
Here’s a seed (not very good):
Stage 2 launches! A SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs! Plz RT: mayone.us #MaydayPAC
Test your alternative against it. If you beat it, post the better one in the comments (with the % better it is).
I continue to be astonished at the mix of citizens who stepped up to support the MaydayPAC in its first $1 million challenge. Here’s a favorite from the MaydayPAC’s inbox:
I am happy to be part of this project. I will spread the word. I, myself, am one of the ones who does not seem to have a voice any longer. I am a women and while raising my sons alone I worked over 45 years at low paying jobs, just making ends meet each payday. Now I am 68, almost 69, retired on a low social security check and dealing with health problems. I am fortunate that our local hospital is partially state funded and I have excellent medical care there. My life is quiet and my hobbies keep me busy but I worry for my sons’ families and my older granddaughters who are now in the job market. This isn’t the life style my generation planned for our children. This isn’t what we worked all those years for. Your project gives me hope that we can improve things for the younger generation and protect my small checks as long as I need them.
This nails it. Everything we’re fighting for is about making it possible to save our kids from the disasters that we have wrought. We are wrecking the climate. But it’s our kids who will suffer the consequences of that. We are driving up an endless debt — that they, not we, will pay. Social security will be around — for us. Health care may be expensive, but our nation will be able to afford it — for us. And any epidemic in childhood obesity is not a problem for grandpa or grandma. The inability of our government to act is a catastrophic problem — for our kids, not for us. We called #Mayday for them — because we were given a better chance than the one we are handing to them.
Next week, in San Francisco, the Authors Alliance will be launched. The brainchild of one of copyright’s greatest scholars (and important original activist) Pam Samuelson, the Alliance will function as an alternative to the Authors Guild.
As a member (until now) of the Guild, I am happy to see the launch of the Alliance. The Guild, in my view, too often seems too much focused on the narrow interests of commercially successful authors. Those interests are of course important. But not every author is a Scott Turow or JK Rowling, and the rules that might benefit them are not necessarily the rules that benefit the wide range of creators.
This Publishers Weekly story points to one clear example of how the Alliance would have acted differently from the Guild — they would not, Samuelson says, have sued to block snippet access to research library books. That (as the courts eventually concluded) was the right position, and will increase access to authors’ creativity, even long after the work is no longer in print. Wildly successful commercial authors might have gained more if access were blocked. But the vast majority of authors would not. A library is not a bookstore — which is good not just for the public but also for (many many) authors.
This launch is good news. Here’s a link to the launch on May 21 in San Francisco. Thanks to Pam (and her incredible board, including the founding ED of Creative Commons, Molly van Houweling) for making this happen.
I have this domain name which will expire in a couple days. If you know to what it refers, then you’re in the small set of people who might find it useful. If you are, and you want it, email me at lessig at pobox dot com with a description of how you’d use it? No offers of money. I’ll determine to whom it can go by midnight the 16th.
We have crossed the $1 million mark, less than two weeks into our campaign. We’ll publish the statistics tomorrow, but more than 10,000 people have made this possible, with contributions averaging under $100. It is amazing and humbling both, and the duty now shifts to me to produce the match. Stay tuned. And thank you to everyone who expressed in this uniquely authentic way that they believe it’s possible to reclaim a democracy.
Amazingly, wonderfully, “this-is-the-Net”-ily, we are 90% to our $1 million goal. It would be INSANELY powerful if we could finished this by 5:30p (EST). Endlessly grateful for everything everyone has done so far, but if we could raise the final $100k in the next 24 hours, it would repay itself enormously. If you can, pledge at MayOne.US and please spread this as broadly as you can. Few thought we could do this in 30 days. No one thought we could do it in 13. Let’s prove no one — or rather everyone — wrong.
We’re 11 days into the launch of the citizens’ funded MaydayPAC. We’re about $150,000 from our $1M goal (for super-secret reasons, I REALLY want us to cross on Tuesday, before 5:30pm). And we can now describe a bit of who “we” are — at least in the sense of our donor demographics.
As of $811,231.20, we were:
Minimum pledge: $1
Maximum pledge: $5,000
1st Q: $25.00
3d Q: $100.00
My favorite exchange: A guy writes to say that if we’re going to hit our $1m before May 30, and so would charge his credit card before June 3, could we please reduce his pledge from $15 to $5, because he won’t have the money before June.