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Lessig: I'm considering a run for Congress

The Stanford University law professor and copyright law critic plans to decide by March 1 whether to seek the Silicon Valley seat vacated by the late Rep. Tom Lantos.

Confirming weeks of speculation, Larry Lessig, the Stanford University law professor and "free culture" icon, has confessed that yes indeed, he's considering a run for the U.S. Congress this year.

Larry Lessig

The revelation came in a brief blog entry on Lessig's Web site early Wednesday morning.

Remarking that "lots of fear and uncertainty" accompany his announcement, said he'll continue reflecting over the next few days on whether he's up for entering the fray. A final decision will come around March 1.

Lessig would be vying for the seat vacated by the death last week of Rep. Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to be elected to Congress. He would, however, also face what he readily acknowledges is an "extraordinarily difficult" race: Jackie Speier--an "extraordinarily good" California state senator and "professional politician," by Lessig's own description--has already announced her candidacy.

Lessig may be a well-known critic of expansive copyright laws, founder of the less-restrictive Creative Commons licensing approach, and a pioneer in cyberspace legal issues, but his preliminary platform--so far, at least--isn't focused on any of that.

In a 10-minute video, Lessig says he's committed to a mantra of "Change Congress," focused on abolishing what he views as the corruptive influence of money in the policymaking process. (He calls out Speier, for instance, for accepting $250,000 from insurance companies while heading up the state senate's insurance committee.)

For Lessig, that translates into a making a three-pronged commitment to "fix" old Washington ways: not accepting money from lobbyists or political action committees, voting to ban all "earmarks" on congressional spending bills, and supporting public financing of campaigns. He indicated he'll be pushing that new "project" regardless of whether he runs for office.

Lessig said he was encouraged to weigh a congressional run by the "Draft Lessig" Web site and Facebook page that have sprung up in recent weeks.

"But I will only be able to run for Congress if you show your support right now," he says at the close of his video. "I need to see your support right now to understand there is enough support for this idea to make this campaign worth it."

On the presidential front, Lessig has .