Wired to Wired

Dean Finds That Courting Blogocrats Means Answering Tough Questions

Reached by the Voice, Dorie Clark, Dean's New Hampshire communications director, said, "Governor Dean recognizes the importance of these issues and his policy team is looking into them, but we haven't reached a policy yet."

Lessig himself seems disinclined to press Dean on the matter. "I invited Dean in particular," Lessig posted after Dean's visit, "because so much of the success of his campaign has come from those who spend time on the Internet, and I suggested that the mix who spent time at my blog had a valuable set of insights that might be useful to understanding the issues that rage on these pages. But as I've said before, these issues are not the central issues of a presidential campaign (yet, anyway). And necessarily, any attention a presidential campaign gives to these issues will be for the purpose of learning. No one launches a campaign for President in 2004 with the aim to 'free culture' or limit the excesses of creative regulation."

Though Stanford induced Lessig to move his site to a personal server after the Dean postings because of Federal Election Commission regulations aimed at keeping school resources out of political campaigns, the guest spot does not necessarily imply an endorsement. In fact, Lessig has personally contributed only to the Edwards campaign.

Open sources: Lessig (above) typed an invite to Dean.
photo: lessig.org
Open sources: Lessig (above) typed an invite to Dean.

Many bloggers who do support Dean believe they understand why it may be in his interest not to come out just now in favor of copyright reform, as candidate Dennis Kucinich, for example, has (also guesting on Lessig's blog). "I was encouraged by Dean's appearance on Lessig's blog, and his stated desire to learn about IP [intellectual property] issues and make an informed decision," Brian Flemming, editor of the political and culture blog Slumdance.com, told the Voice. "I'd love it if he took a stand against the DMCA, the Sonny Bono Act, etc., but I do understand that would be throwing caution to the wind politically, given the power of the media companies. Al Gore had the media against him, and he nearly lost. I'm not anticipating a radical stand from a candidate already pegged as unelectable by some."

The Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America were both major supporters of the DMCA. Dean's list of individual contributors, on the other hand, already includes dozens of Hollywood names, including Warner Bros. president and COO Alan Horn, Disney producer Jeffrey Abrams, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, and executives at Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox, HBO, and Showtime. If Dean shapes his messages to please big media, that could be a big blow to the creative commons.

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