Internet policy pioneer Larry Lessig visits Elon Law

The former Democratic candidate for president traveled to North Carolina on April 26 for a special campus interview with Associate Professor David Levine, host of the "Hearsay Culture" radio program celebrating its 10th anniversaryon KZSU-FM at Stanford University.

A nationally recognized Harvard Law professor who campaigned last fall for the Democratic presidential nomination shared Tuesday with an Elon Law audience his reflections on American democracy, intellectual property and his hopes for today’s law students.

Lawrence Lessig, an Internet policy pioneer and prominent advocate for campaign finance reform, visited North Carolina for a midday special interview with an Elon faculty member who hosts a popular radio program broadcast in Silicon Valley.

The interview was recorded in front of a live audience in an Elon Law classroom and will be broadcast May 6 at 5 p.m. EST / 2 p.m. PST on KZSU-FM at Stanford University to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Associate Professor David Levine’s show “Hearsay Culture.”

Lessig built his presidential bid around the issue of campaign finance reform. It’s an issue that remains relevant to a legal scholar known for his role in the development of Creative Commons.

As Levine pointed out in welcoming more than 40 people to an Elon Law classroom to listen to the “live” interview, Lessig was set to be in Washington, D.C., later in the afternoon to pay a fine following a recent arrest on Capitol Hill in a campaign finance reform protest. And campaign finance was a dominant theme of the discussion.

“When people use the words ‘campaign finance reform,’ it makes the issue seem way too geeky and esoteric,” Lessig said. “Our Republic was meant to be a representative democracy. … (This is) a fight for the very soul of what a democracy is.”

The interview also featured advice for those now in law school. Lessig encouraged students to “bottle up” their idealism and save it for when they’re a few years into their practices. “Remind yourself about why you’re in this business. What are you here for?” he said. “The job of lawyers is to spread justice within society.”

“Hearsay Culture” has aired regularly since May 2006 on KZSU-FM live stream and is available afterward at, on the Center for Internet and Society website and by iTunes podcast. The interview format explores emerging issues in information law and policy and intellectual property law, with a particular focus on the Internet and other new technologies, like robotics. Lessig had served as the show’s ninth guest and Levine credits that appearance for the growth of the “Hearsay Culture” audience in the years to follow.

Levine is a Visiting Research Collaborator at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy and an Affiliate Scholar at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, which Lessig founded and that airs the show as a podcast. “Hearsay Culture” has received significant critical attention, including being named in the American Bar Association’s “Blawg 100” of 2008, and top five in the podcast category, the only year in which the ABA ranked podcasts.

Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, he was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago.

He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. He serves on the Board of the AXA Research Fund, was a founder of Creative Commons and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books and articles in the fields of intellectual property and Internet law remain foundational.

More recently, Lessig campaigned for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination based upon his work addressing campaign finance reform and other pressing issues. His book, “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress And a Plan to Stop It,” informed his presidential run.