Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspaceby Lawrence Lessig, Lawrence Lessing
There's a common belief that cyberspace cannot be regulatedthat it is, in its very essence, immune from the government's (or anyone else's) control. Code argues that this belief is wrong. It is not in the nature of cyberspace to be unregulable; cyberspace has no “nature.” It only has codethe software and hardware that make/i>
There's a common belief that cyberspace cannot be regulatedthat it is, in its very essence, immune from the government's (or anyone else's) control. Code argues that this belief is wrong. It is not in the nature of cyberspace to be unregulable; cyberspace has no “nature.” It only has codethe software and hardware that make cyberspace what it is. That code can create a place of freedomas the original architecture of the Net didor a place of exquisitely oppressive control.If we miss this point, then we will miss how cyberspace is changing. Under the influence of commerce, cyberpsace is becoming a highly regulable space, where our behavior is much more tightly controlled than in real space.But that's not inevitable either. We canwe mustchoose what kind of cyberspace we want and what freedoms we will guarantee. These choices are all about architecture: about what kind of code will govern cyberspace, and who will control it. In this realm, code is the most significant form of law, and it is up to lawyers, policymakers, and especially citizens to decide what values that code embodies.
Harvard Business Review
Philip Y. Blue
-- Daniel Bell, author of The Coming of Post-Industrial Society
"This may be the most important book ever published about the Internet, as well as one of the most readable. Lessig's ideas are deep and insightful, and they will shape the way the future develops. He is a master at seeing the important ideas lurking behind things we all take for granted."
--Mark A. Lemley, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California, Berkley
"Lessig's book is an astonishing achievement. The nation's leading scholar of cyberspace has produced a paradigm-shifting work that will transform the debate about the architecture of cyberspace. Lessig challenges us to make choices about freedom, privacy, intellectual property, and technology that most of us didn't recognize as choices in the first place."
--Jeffrey Rosen, Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic
The New York Times Book Review
What People are Saying About This
In Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Larry Lessig compellingly demonstrates the central idea of cyberlaw: Software architecture can regulate our lives as much as any legal rule. This is, quite simply, the best book that has been written on the law of cyberspace.
Larry Lessig has taken an acute insight into the nature of law in and around cyberspace and turned it into a sweeping, powerful, and brilliantly lucid argument. For anyone passionate about securing the freedoms of thought and expression the Internet seems to promise, Code is a book full of challenging and galvanizing heresiesónot the least of them being Lessig's central insistence that computer code can be just as much a threat to those freedoms as legislative code. This is not just an interesting point; it demands a rethinking of the social contract as radical as any since the days of Locke. And with wit, rigor, and a graceful accessibility, Lessig here proves himself Locke's worthy heir.
Lawrence Lessig is a James Madison of our time, crafting the lineaments of a well-tempered cyberspace. This book is a primer of "running code" for digital civilization. Like Madison, Lessig is a model of balance, judgement, ingenuity, and persuasive argument.
Graceful, provocative, witty, and unpredictable, Code is a masterpiece that neither lawyers nor Internet mavens can keep for themselves. It is indispensable for anyone who wants to understand the digital age.
Lessig's exposition reads like a Stanley Kubrick film, with the menace made palpable by new technologies....It is a troubling book, and one that needs to be taken seriously.
Meet the Author
Lawrence Lessig is a professor at Stanford Law School and founder of the school's Center for the Internet and Society. After clerking for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and for Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court, he served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Yale Law School, and Harvard Law School before moving to Stanford. He represented the web site developer Eric Eldred before the Supreme Court in Ashcroft v. Eldred, a landmark case challenging the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. His other books are Free Culture and The Future of Ideas . Lessig also chairs the Creative Commons project and serves on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. In 2002 he was named one of Scientific American 's Top 50 Visionaries. He lives in Palo Alto, California.
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Beyond his lucid framing of the challenges of regulating life in cyber-space, Lessing's book is an example of the methodology we ought to employ in constructing our opinions about the complex issues of public policy and law.
I found Lessig's theme interesting when I first heard of and later purchased the book. What attracted me was the possibility of an serious socio-philosophical exploration cyberspace and law. I found the first two chapters to be rife with generalizations. For example, Lessig makes the claim that Communism collapsed due to exhaustion. This particular idea--one of many that the author uses to build up to a discussion of law and society--simplifies a very complex series of historical events. This book is filled with such unprotected logical planks. The more serious problem is that Lessig sometimes contradicts himself. This may be the result of a law education, focusing more on the application of the law. The author fails to seriously explore the levels of assumption beneath his arguments. The only solid foundation he lays for the reader is that he is a constitutionalist. All else if a hodge-podge of philosophical bits and pieces that merge at functional examples. The weakness of this book is that the argument isn't built as solid as it should be. On the other hand, it was great introduction to a subject that will become increasingly volatile and important in the upcoming decades.