Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Khan of Khans Kagan recaptures cyberlawyer Lawrence Lessig who is leaving Stanford Law School to return to Harvard : HLS Leads Trend, but Quo Vadis?

Kagan (viz. khaghan or khakhan) in Mongolian means "khan of the khans" or "emperor" and Elena Kagan of Harvard Law School is befitting that approximate appellation well in her capacity as Dean of HLS (Harvard Law School). HLS has now stocked up its professorial assets for the 20th time under Kagan's reign by hiring a tenured professor from another law school, in this case Stanford Law School's (SLS) Lawrence (Larry) Lessig, who left Harvard Law School some years ago to migrate to SLS, but has now been rehired by HLS. Capitalism is free markets, right?

As we previously wrote - long before the recent US Presidential election - about the unmistakable "Harvard" trend:

"The emerging Ivy League dominance, especially that of Harvard, the nation's oldest (or second oldest) law school, depending on the source used, is a significant barometer for the impending state of the world of the future."

This now not only applies to Harvard Law School but also to its graduates, as e.g. a certain Harvard Law School grad named Barack Obama will be leading the way forward - to an as yet unknown destination.

Hat tip to Martha Neil at the ABA Journal.

But in any case, to return to the Boston that Lessig is also returning to, we might take a look at the very appropriate "Charles Dickens's first visit to the New World", as described at Magazine Antiques, September, 2003, by Gloria Deak (this is just an excerpt), which not only gives us a view of a fledgling Boston, but also of reciprocal copyright law in the United States at that time:

"Boston was a city that Dickens genuinely admired ... and it probably set up expectations for him that were not fulfilled in other parts of the country. He responded joyfully to the environment of intellectual refinement provided by Harvard College.... His Boston visit prompted some passing remarks on the subject of transcendentalism, a philosophical concept then popular among New England's Brahmans, although a mystery to most of the population....

From Boston, the novelist made an excursion to nearby Lowell, Massachusetts, which occasioned his first ride on an American train....

As he wended his way south toward New York City in February 1842, Dickens gained the impression that most of the New England towns through which he passed were disconcertingly cloaked in an aspect of newness . . . A lack of historical layering and the sense of a culture living determinedly in the present, proved to be a characteristic of the New World that was ever disturbing to the novelist during the course of his travels.... In Hartford, Connecticut, Dickens felt the first unexpected blows to his ego and the start of a disenchantment with the United States from which he never fully recovered. At issue was the refusal by the United States to enter into a reciprocal agreement on copyright with England; the absence of such an agreement meant that the publishers in this country were freely issuing Dickens's novels without paying royalties to him, and without providing compensation to his British publishers. That the United States steadfastly declined to honor a copyright law rankled the young author, on both his own behalf and that of fellow writers....

Interestingly, we only learn of this heated reaction through letters; Dickens mentions not a word of the copyright affair in American Notes. He wanted to wait, it appears, for the protective distance of a fictional account before he gave vent to his outrage.... When The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit was published a year later, it was abundantly anti-American.
[emphasis added by LawPundit]

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