On Tuesday, Feb. 19, Lawrence Lessig marked his appointment as Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School with a lecture titled “Aaron’s Laws: Law and Justice in a Digital Age.” The lecture honored the memory and work of Aaron Swartz, the programmer and activist who took his own life on Jan. 11, 2013 at the age of 26. Swartz spent the last two years fighting federal charges that he violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
On his blog, Lessig wrote, “When a law professor is given a “chair” s/he gives a lecture in honor of the honor. … After Aaron’s death, I asked the Dean to let me reschedule the lecture. But after some more thought, I’ve decided to make the lecture about Aaron, and about how we need to honor his work.”
A long time friend and mentor of Swartz, who helped develop RSS as a teen, co-owned the popular website Reddit, and was a key architect of the Creative Commons, Lessig has written about Swartz on his personal blog and the Huffington Post, and he spoke about Swartz’s life and achievements on the radio show Democracy Now. Swartz is the inspiration for “Aaron’s Law,” a draft bill, introduced by Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), which would limit the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Lessig holds the Roy L. Furman Professorship of Law and Leadership and is director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. His most recent work, “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It,” advocates for a convention to address what he calls the corrupting influence of money and special interests in Congress.
Lessig is a founding board member of Creative Commons, which promotes universal access, innovation and sharing of ideas, and the creator of Rootstrikers, an organization that aims to share stories about government corruption, money and media and work towards practical reform. He also serves on the boards of MAPLight, Brave New Film Foundation, The American Academy, Berlin, AXA Research Fund and iCommons.org, and is on the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation.