Code: And Other Laws Of Cyberspace

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9780465039128: Code: And Other Laws Of Cyberspace

There's a common belief that cyberspace cannot be regulated that 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 code the software and hardware that make cyberspace what it is. That code can create a place of freedom as the original architecture of the Net did or 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 can we must choose 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.

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Review:

Everyone knows that cyberspace is a wild frontier that can't be regulated, right? Everyone is wrong, and that's why we should all read Harvard Law prof (and famous Microsoft trial expert) Lawrence Lessig's eye-opening, jaw-dropping book Code, the best guide yet to the future that's heading our way like a frictionless freight train. For such an analytical book, it's also anecdote-studded and utterly fun to read.

Lessig leads us through the new controversies in intellectual property, privacy, free speech, and national sovereignty. What about a computer worm that can search every American's PC for top-secret NSA documents? It sounds obviously unconstitutional, but the worm code can't read your letters, bust down your door, scare you, or arrest anyone innocent. If you're not guilty, you won't even know you were searched. The coded architecture of the Net also enforces certain freedoms: via the Net, we have now globally exported a more extreme form of free speech than the First Amendment encodes in old-fashioned law. The once-important Pentagon Papers case would be meaningless today: instead of fighting to publish secret government documents, The New York Times could simply leak them to a USENET newsgroup. The Constitution is rife with ambiguities the framers couldn't have imagined, and virtual communities such as AOL and LamdaMOO are organizing themselves in ways governed largely by code--strikingly different ones.

We've got tough choices ahead. Do we want to protect intellectual property or privacy? How do we keep cyberporn from kids--by brain-dead decency laws, censoring filters, or code that identifies kid users? (Lessig advocates code.) Lessig demonstrates that legal structures are too slow and politics-averse to regulate cyberspace. "Courts are disabled, legislatures pathetic, and code untouchable." Code writers are the unacknowledged legislators of the new world, backed by the law and commerce. Lessig thinks citizens must recognize the need to be the architects of their own fate, or they'll find themselves coded into a world they never made. --Tim Appelo

From the Inside Flap:

"[Lessig] has staked out a role as one of academia's avant-garde thinkers about cyberspace and the law."
The Wall Street Journal

"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

"Lessig penetrates the cyberfluff to reveal the deep structure of our brave new world."
Bruce Ackerman
Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale University

"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, Berkeley

"Lawrence Lessig exposes the limits of prevailing views about how cyberspace is (and is not) regulated, and makes a compelling case for the urgency of learning to transcend those limits. Code is essential reading for those who care about the future of cyberspace, and of the human society within which "cyberspace" plays an increasingly central role."
Julie E. Cohen
Georgetown University Law Center

"Lawrence Lessig takes seriously the proposition that, in cyberspace, code is the law, and he traces out the consequences in a lucid and insightful way. If you want to know what daily life will be like in the computer-mediated twenty-first century, this is essential reading."
William J. Mitchell

"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."
Stewart Brand
author of The Media Lab and The Clock of the Long Now

"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. This dark, exhilarating work is the most important book of its generation about the relationship between law, cyberspace, and social organization."
Jeffrey Rosen
Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic

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