Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace

( 2 )


Should cyberspace be regulated? How can it be done? It's a cherished belief of techies and net denizens everywhere that cyberspace is fundamentally impossible to regulate. Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig warns that, if we're not careful we'll wake up one day to discover that the character of cyberspace has changed from under us. Cyberspace will no longer be a world of relative freedom; instead it will be a world of perfect control where our identities, actions, and desires are monitored, tracked, and analyzed ...
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Should cyberspace be regulated? How can it be done? It's a cherished belief of techies and net denizens everywhere that cyberspace is fundamentally impossible to regulate. Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig warns that, if we're not careful we'll wake up one day to discover that the character of cyberspace has changed from under us. Cyberspace will no longer be a world of relative freedom; instead it will be a world of perfect control where our identities, actions, and desires are monitored, tracked, and analyzed for the latest market research report. Commercial forces will dictate the change, and architecture—the very structure of cyberspace itself—will dictate the form our interactions can and cannot take.

Code And Other Laws of Cyberspace is an exciting examination of how the core values of cyberspace as we know it—intellectual property, free speech, and privacy-—are being threatened and what we can do to protect them. Lessig shows how code—the architecture and law of cyberspace—can make a domain, site, or network free or restrictive; how technological architectures influence people's behavior and the values they adopt; and how changes in code can have damaging consequences for individual freedoms. Code is not just for lawyers and policymakers; it is a must-read for everyone concerned with survival of democratic values in the Information Age.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig argues that cyberspace is not inherently a libertarian's dream come true. The architecture underlying cyberspace determines its character. If and when that architecture is changed, cyberspace can become highly regulated. Already issues of privacy and tracking are of major concern. Lessig explains how cyberspace is evolving. A must-read for those interested in the laws surrounding cyberspace, as well as concerned private citizens.
Carl Shapiro
Code and Other Laws of CyberspaceLawrence Lessig makes the case that important gains in liberty promoted by the Internet, such as freedom of speech, are now at risk. Code is both mind expanding and entertaining.
Harvard Business Review
Michael Himowitz
[T]his brilliant, scholarly but eminently readable examination of the laws, rules and customs that govern the Internet should be required reading for anyone who spends more than a few minutes a week online.
Baltimore Sun
Library Journal
Code, Lessig's seminal examination of the interrelationships among the Internet, privacy, and intellectual property, was published in 2000. It invigorated scholars of constitutional law with a fresh perspective on the nature, level, and extent of technology's reach into the realm of jurisprudence. Now this work has been collaboratively revised: Lessig (founder, Ctr. for the Internet & Society, Stanford Univ. Law Sch.; The Future of Ideas) and his readers call the shots alongside one another, with readers editing the original text via the author's wiki. The thesis of 2.0remains essentially the same: the Internet's infrastructure will become increasingly controlled and regulable through digital identity technologies, enabling a partnership between government and commerce that will shape the characteristics and determine the boundaries of cyberspace in a manner favorable to these two powerful forces of social order. Drawing upon and expanding the works of first-generation cyberspace theorists, Lessig foresees an extension of control and regulation that cybernauts of the 1990s would have found Orwellian. He also delineates the legal and ethical values inherent within three major categories increasingly under assault by the nontraditional vagaries of cyberspace: privacy protection, free speech, and intellectual property rights. His solution here is the creation of a creative or intellectual Commons, a resource that anyone within a relevant community can use without seeking the permission of anyone else. Highly recommended for academic libraries and legal collections.
—Philip Y. Blue
Basic Books
"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."
-- 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

David Pogue
In Code, the Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig, freshly famous from his role as friend of the court in the Microsoft antitrust suit, makes an alarming and impassioned claim: that the Internet will indeed soon be regulated. ''Left to itself,'' he says, ''cyberspace will become a perfect tool of control'' -- not by the government, which he characterizes as clueless and inadequate, but by software programmers. In a book that's sometimes as brilliant as the best teacher you ever had, sometimes as pretentious as a deconstructionists' conference, Lessig plays digital Cassandra: he predicts that the Internet will become a monster that tracks our every move, but that nobody will heed his warning.
The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442996373
  • Publisher:, Limited
  • Publication date: 7/9/2009
  • Edition description: Large Print
  • Pages: 440

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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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Part 1 Regulability
Chapter 1 Code Is Law 3
Chapter 2 Four Puzzles from Cyberspace 9
Chapter 3 Is-Ism 24
Chapter 4 Architectures of Control 30
Chapter 5 Regulating Code 43
Part 2 Code and Other Regulators
Chapter 6 Cyberspaces 63
Chapter 7 What Things Regulate 85
Chapter 8 The Limits in Open Code 100
Part 3 Applications
Chapter 9 Translation 111
Chapter 10 Intellectual Property 122
Chapter 11 Privacy 142
Chapter 12 Free Speech 164
Chapter 13 Interlude 186
Chapter 14 Sovereignty 188
Part 4 Responses
Chapter 15 The Problems We Face 213
Chapter 16 Responses 222
Chapter 17 What Declan Doesn't Get 231
Appendix 235
Notes 241
Index 289
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 1999

    Serious Argument Diluted

    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.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2003

    An important look into alternitive future visions of cyberspace

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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