It would have been nice to win this one
The Supreme Court voted 7-2 not to overturn the "Sonny Bono" extension to the term for copyright law. The majority opinion
was written by Justice Ginsburg, while both Justice Stevens and Justice Breyer wrote dissenting opinions
I heard back from Lawrence Lessig just the other day on a Creative Commons
matter, but I had no idea that the decision from the Supreme Court was coming back so soon. I sent him a "thank you, nice try" email, but it's not going to be easy on him, I'm sure. Lessig seems to be taking it hard
, and I can understand it. He's too close to the fight, and, as such, probably doesn't focus on the bigger picture of what the general public thinks of copyright law. (i.e. Not enough...)
It's not easy to take a case before the Supreme Court asking for them to, in effect, make new law, without having some kind of "moral imperative". Most people are just beginning to familiarize themselves with the issues really, and don't get why it matters when companies use the law to steal the public domain from the rest of us.
He's bound to view it as a personal failure, and it's hard to say that it's not to some degree. The arguments that he presumed everyone on the Supreme Court "got", they apparently didn't "get", and I remember commenting
after he argued before the court that he may not have been the best person for the job. That's kind of a moot point, however. Circumstances pick the person more often than not, and I'm not sure anyone could have won this case under the circumstances.
Lawrence lost, yes, but not all is lost. There are strong hints within the Supreme Court decision that the limits of credulity are being stretched by the length of the existing copyright law, so even though he lost, he also made it substantially harder for congress to extend copyright duration any further into the future. If the battle will be won or lost, it will be won or lost there now.
It also gives us one more reason to never elect an entertainer into public office -- in the event of their death, big corporations will probably lobby for another copyright extension in their memory. All we need is a Schwartzenegger Act. (Schwarzenegger? Act?! That would be ironic.)
As a subnote, my friend Randall (the one in law school) has suggested on several occasions that I should go into law, as I would be an great lawyer due to my character. He may have a point... but there are some flaws to that argument.
1> Just because you can see the flaws in someone else's performance doesn't mean that you, given the same oportunity, wouldn't make the same mistakes yourself. (Or make some mistakes entirely unique to yourself...)
2> Lawyers are whores out of necessity. Even the most well-meaning lawyer with the most noble of intentions gets out of law school disillusioned and heavily in debt. It's hard to save the world when you can't afford to save yourself.
3> Law, by its nature, is frustrating, disillusioning, and unfair. It's a game with rules that you are supposed to believe -- in an almost religious sense -- will result in the common good, even when evidence indicates otherwise. I don't like worshipping false gods.
4> It's all a popularity contest, isn't it?!
...but yeah, I probably would make a good lawyer.