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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"We, the Net People, in order to form a more perfect Transfer Protocol..." might be recited in future fifth-grade history classes, says attorney Lawrence Lessig. He turns the now-traditional view of the Internet as an uncontrollable, organic entity on its head, and explores the architecture and social systems that are changing every day and taming the frontier. Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace is his well-reasoned, undeniably cogent series of arguments for guiding the still-evolving regulatory processes, to ensure that we don't find ourselves stuck with a system that we find objectionable. As the former Communist-bloc countries found, a constitution is still one of our best guarantees against the dark side of chaos; and Lessig promotes a kind of document that accepts the inevitable regulatory authority of both government and commerce, while constraining them within values that we hold by consensus.
Lessig holds that those who shriek the loudest at the thought of interference in cyberdoings, especially at the hands of the government, are blind to the ever-increasing regulation of the Net (admittedly, without badges or guns) by businesses that find little opposition to their schemes from consumers, competitors, or cops. The Internet will be regulated, he says, and our window of opportunity to influence the design of those regulations narrows each day. How will we make the decisions that the Framers of our paper-and-ink Constitution couldn't foresee, much less resolve? Lessig proclaims that many of us will have to wake up fast and get to work before we lose the chance to draft a networked Bill of Rights. --Rob LightnerFrom 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."
author of The Coming of Post-Industrial Society
"Lessig penetrates the cyberfluff to reveal the deep structure of our brave new world."
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."
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."
Legal Affairs Editor, The New Republic
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