The Lessig in three seconds or less contest.

by Steve Mallett

This is the real deal. I've got an in print O'Reilly book of your choice for you if you win. Leave your braindroppings below (and a contact method) and I'll post back here periodically with some of the best. I'll close this out in a month from today. Hope we have a deserving winner.

After you've had the experience of hearing Lawrence Lessig speak (or reading the transcripts) a few times and you grasp some, if not all, of the issues involved with the encroachment of the commons and the threat to creative freedoms that come from ever expanding copyrights and increasing thursts for control of intellectual work, you and I are confronted with an underlying challenge aside from doing something about it. Explaining it in under three seconds! Yikes!

Read the transcipt first. Then contemplate this quote:

In an interview two days ago, Watts said, Here's the problem with Washington: "If you are explaining, you are losing." If you are explaining, you're losing. It's a bumper sticker culture. People have to get it like that, and if they don't, if it takes three seconds to make them understand, you're off their radar screen. Three seconds to understand, or you lose. This is our problem.

The very least we can do is explain this to others. But how? There are a lot of issues, examples, and characters in this story. So we need something, a quick 'tag line' that is easy enough for t-shirts, bumpersticks, and laptop stickers. I hate it as much as you do, but that's how life is. You need a little something that hooks someone's attention so they are interested enough to want further discussion.

Can you do it? Let's kick them around & see what we can come up with.

Let me start with something from Mr. Lessig's book The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World from the second to last paragraph of chapter 10. "Dinosaurs should die." I'm quite sure you can all do better....

C'mon, put you onboard motor to work!


2002-08-19 15:24:31
If Steamboat Bill was made under today's laws...
Steamboat Willie would not exist.
2002-08-19 21:46:16
a few bummer stickers
No DVD in my PC, thanks!
Stop Making Laws, Make Good Music!
Fair Use is Fair
Digital Rights or Human Rights?
A Fair World with Fair Use
Fair Use is Democratic
Fair Use or Digital Fascism?
Make Good Music and CDs Will Sell
Labels Make Laws or Music?
Digital Dinosaurs Cannot Dance
CIA, NSA, ... RIAA ??
Palladium = Plutonium
DRM? well, *real* books are cool!
MP3? No thanks, I am a Text person
I would gladly remove all digital
contents such as MPEG and MP3 from
my PC for the assurance of not being
forced to use a DRM-compliant OS
(which will be buggy, and un-trustworthy).
DVD, MPEG, digital music can all be
played on a *appliance*. That would be
fine. My PC is first a Tool, not a jukebox,
nor, a home theater.
(On the other hand, i might want to edit
my own digital audio and video on my
Is this 2002 PC a future illegal piece
of hardware?
So many new "digital" laws... i regret
not having become a veterinarian or
a farmer!
2002-08-19 22:05:17
My try
Every innovation does something unexpected, by definition. Outlawing unexpected uses outlaws innovation.


2002-08-19 22:36:00
Born Free

OK, here are my contributions to our bumper sticker culture:

Born Free

My favorite. High sticker potential. Dual meaning: loss of freedom since birth of country as well as just since my own birth... I'd stick it on my laptop or car. Plus it comes with a song :)

Some Others:

Share Culture

Sharing is not Stealing

Greed is good. Freedom is American

It's 2002, do you know where your freedoms are?

I am more than a "consumer"


2002-08-20 12:12:10
do something about it
In our modern world, freedom means 'free with restrictions'? Get rid of these restrictions and give us back our free will!
2002-08-20 12:13:22
can't get shorter than this
Free the mouse!
2002-08-20 16:37:16
New, Lord of the Rings inspired...
I know that I must have seen this one elsewhere so I won't pretend I'm some kind of genius...

"One copyright law to rule them all.."

Steve 'spaceman' Mallett

2002-08-20 20:13:23
it's not mine, but why reinvent the wheel ;-)
"If I have seen farther than others, it is because
I was standing on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton
2002-08-21 05:43:45
This one came in via email
Who Rules - Content or the Individual?
2002-08-21 09:39:59
How 'bout 50 words or less?
Still could fit on the back of a t-shirt or a really LONG bumper sticker:

Eternal copyright and patent protections of intellectual content threaten to imprison, or at a minimum extort texts, music, images, films and code which will impair the creative advancement of a knowledge sharing, technologically advancing society and eventually abolish fair use rights and paralyze the public domain.


2002-08-21 12:13:11
It's Creative Commons vs Stifled Progress (eom)
2002-08-21 13:25:57
If your eyes are open...
If your eyes are open, we own what you see.

Could work for ears too.

2002-08-21 14:09:14
Creativity is Mightier Than The Board (+ variation)
That's kinda stretched, maybe

Creativity is Mightier Than Greed

2002-08-21 14:11:42
Cupidity is Stupidity, Commons not Lawmen!

Of course, who knows what cupidity means anyow?

2002-08-21 14:12:26
99% of Progess is Derivative (eom) (i'll stop now)
2002-08-21 18:03:01
By reading this post, you agree to the terms of my license...
Here's a few:

- Intellect is not property.

- It's not stealing, because it isn't theirs.

- This bumpersticker is copyrighted. You owe the driver $1 every time you read it.

- This air is patented. you may not not breathe it.

2002-08-22 01:14:38
*Free Mickey*
*Hack The Law*
2002-08-22 01:49:36
*Free Mickey*
*Hack The Law*
2002-08-22 02:29:43
culture should not be corporate owned!
or, my old standby, "shakespeare didnt copyright, why should you?"

2002-08-22 06:03:35
it's not mine, but why reinvent the wheel ;-)
Ah ha! It's so beautiful & was right under you nose, but now under your post:

Why reinvent the wheel? Because Disney Owns the Copyright.

Funny, but arguementative.

2002-08-22 09:56:57
Think of the children
Imagine a world where your daughter can't draw Elmo.

Imagine a world where your son can't sing Happy Birthday.

Imagine a world where you can't go to the bathroom.

What did you create today?

2002-08-22 15:00:56
creative freedom
"If they own what you create, then they own you."
2002-08-22 15:19:07
"You're a Derivative Work"
"You're a Derivative Work"
It just kinda came to me.
2002-08-22 15:20:54
Sharecroppers to our cultural heritage
These are actually just a couple I've come across in my reporting, so give *them* the books, if you like them:

Rick Boucher: Fight for your freedom to whistle in the shower!

And on behalf of Ruben Safir, co-founder of New Yorker's for Fair Use: "The tremendous problem we face is that we are becoming sharecroppers to our own cultural heritage -- we need the ability to participate in our own society."

Also, what about focussing on using the phrase: Fair-use protection, not copyright protection. That recasts the debate.

2002-08-23 07:19:41
Sharecroppers to our cultural heritage
"Fair-use protection, not copyright protection."

This has some legs.

2002-08-23 12:10:21
Sharecroppers to our cultural heritage
Thanks. Well, I'm *supposed* to be good with words...

It's a delicate line for us journos. We wanna get paid for our work, but we need fair use as well. So do our readers and everyone else.

2002-08-25 12:48:32
Freedom Pending
Freedom Pending - a play on Patent Pending !
2002-08-28 13:01:12
Common(s) Law:
Here's a tshirt/bumber sticker slogan:

Common(s) Law: Information == Freedom


2002-08-29 15:18:46
Freedom Pending
I love it.
2002-08-31 09:55:39
Don't chain my brain.
At the root this is all about freedom to create.
2002-08-31 10:30:09
Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it.
This isn't mine; it comes from this essay, dealing with some of the artists who have been fighting in the trenches of the copyright wars for some years now, most notably Negativland and John Oswald. Read the essay before you make up your mind about the slogan. I like it (the slogan) because it's provocative. It definitely fits the bill of generating discussion, because we're all brainwashed to to have the knee-jerk reaction that plagiarism is bad. In the strictest definition (stealing the work of others for personal gain, i.e. to get a higher mark on your geography test) it is bad. But the essay and the slogan encourage you to repurpose the word, to mean something more like, "take from the commons, in order that you might give back to the commons". And that's where the "progress" comes in.

2002-09-02 00:03:07
sharing is not a crime
la skateboarding is not a crime.
2002-09-04 18:15:06
Art and Legos
Tell the artist he may enjoy the paper, paint, and brush as they are, but pass laws to make it illegal for any one to come into contact with the other two.


Let your child play with Legos, but don't let him stack or otherwise joins the blocks.


If, with building blocks, your childs builds something known to you, such as a house or a car, punish him (with a licensing fee?). See if he continues to play with the blocks.

2002-09-09 20:48:26
3 seconds? Maybe 4.
I have four suggestions:

Sarcastic: "Freedom? Did someone patent that?"

Trekkie: "IP. To boldly restrict where no man has gone before." (geeky, yet legally correct)

Silly: "Patent? I don't need no stinkin' patent."

Sincere: "Once the commons is gone, where will all the commoners go?"

Any suggestion that utilizes the words "don't tread" should be disqualified from this competition.

2002-09-16 17:20:18
You *MUST* buy WindowsXP
The realization that to get DRM'ed content will require you to do so though Windows XP and/or Microsoft ...

[ With deepest apologies to Mark Knofler and Dire Straits ]

"Money for Microsoft" by Dire Warning
Sung by Steve Ballmer, backing by Bill Gates

You must buy ...
You must buy Win-XP

You must buy ...
You must buy Win-XP

You must buy ...
You must buy Win-XP

You must buy ...
You must buy Win-XP

Now look at them bozo's that's the way you do it
You lock them always on the Win-XP
That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
Money for Microsoft from Dot Net usage fees
Now that ain't workin' thats the way we do it
Lemme tell ya them guys are dumb
Maybe get a licence on your little desktop
Maybe get a licence on everyone

They gotta install Media Player
Passport Dot-Net deliveries
They gotta take these applications
They gotta take these subscription fees

Look at that, look at that

See the little Win-Troll spreading spin we makeup
Yeah buddy thats our own fear
That little Win-Troll got them always complain'
That little Win-Troll makes us billionares

They gotta install Media Player
Passport Dot-Net deliveries
They gotta take these applications
They gotta take these subscription fees

They shoulda learned to use the Linux
They shoulda learned to use them Macs
Look at that user, we got it stickin' to the customer
Man we could have some fun
And their down there, whats that? Protesting noises?
Plannin' on me dancing like a chimpanzee
That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
Get the money for Microsoft get our usage fee

They gotta install Media Player
Passport Dot-Net deliveries
They gotta take these applications
They gotta take these subscription fees

That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
You lock them always on the Win-XP
That ain't workin' thats the way we do it
Money for Microsoft from the license fee
Money for Microsoft from subscription fees

David Mohring - Original author
Note: dancing like a chimpanzee - see

We need a 3D animated flash video parodying the original Dire Straits Music Video.

2002-09-18 12:52:11
standing on the shoulders
Creative Commons: because standing on the shoulders of money grubbing midgets wouldn't have gotten Newton anywhere...
2002-09-18 17:28:12
The Right to Creatively Copy had been Copyrighted away
and my contact is
2002-09-18 23:17:36
Freedom is more valuable than the right to profit.
'nuff said.
2002-09-19 11:26:13
To create tomorrow, yesterday must be free
contact at
2002-09-19 12:25:51
Posner Said It Best...
"Creative works are both an input and an output in the creative process; if you raise the cost of the input, you get less output."

kldavis at uchicago dot edu

When our creative history is under lock and key, the future is bleak indeed.

2002-09-19 14:07:38
Remember the Geese . . .
2002-09-19 14:41:13
Liberate our past
Limit Copyright: Liberate our past and free our future

2002-11-18 14:10:56
Three Seconds or Less Contest
You cannot continue to do the same old thing and expect a different outcome.
2003-10-24 14:53:42
another bumper sticker
Honk if you love copyright laws.
2003-10-24 14:59:24
I should be copyrighting these...
Copyright laws- yet another reason why the rich keep getting richer.

2007-12-16 14:03:40
"Hello World!", I am under copyright.

You cannot speak, use of letters from © material is not a fair use.

copyright links