Former Law School Professor Lessig Says He Won’t Run For Congressman in San Francisco-area District

Calling the response to his potential candidacy “simply humbling and inspiring,” former Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig announced yesterday that he will not mount a bid for Congress from his San Francisco-area district.

The copyright and cyberlaw expert, who has been at Stanford since 2000, had been encouraged to run for office by Harvard cyberlaw professor John G. Palfrey, Jr. ’94. Palfrey was the leader of a Web-based “Draft Lessig” movement to encourage his friend to seek office.

In a video posted on his Web site yesterday evening, Lessig said that his chances for defeating Democratic opponent Jackie Speier, a state senator and 30-year veteran of local politics, would be thinner than a computer chip.

“It is not possible,” he said. “Certainly, we would lose this race and not just one in a tight contest, but we would lose in a big way.”

Lessig said he would direct the money that had been donated for his campaign to his “Change Congress” movement, which aims to get politicians to refuse money from lobbyists, ban “earmarks,” and support public financing of campaigns.

“Changing congress is the hardest political challenge that we as a nation face,” Lessig said in the video.

Lessig, famous for bringing a 2003 case that unsuccessfully challenged prevailing U.S. copyright law, is the founder of Creative Commons, a non-profit organization that allows copyright holders to provide some or all of the rights to their work online for free.

“Lawrence Lessig is a great American and would make a great member of Congress,” Palfrey said in an interview last week. “We would be sorry to see him leave academia, but he will have a great public service career ahead of him if he decides to take on this challenge.”