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Code: And Other Laws Of Cyberspace Hardcover – November 30, 1999

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition (1 in number line) edition (November 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046503912X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465039128
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews 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 Library Journal

Lessig (law, Harvard) tackles the tricky and troubling question of Internet regulation. Cyberspace has no intrinsic structure to protect its libertarian nature, and we are now well into an era where commerce and its partner in control, government, are working in a manner that could permanently, and perhaps negatively, alter its character. Now is the time for all who stand to benefit from the unique nature of cyberspace to assert their collective values into a framework for regulating it. Apathy or inaction, Lessig argues, would result in a medium shaped by special interests. His book is replete with examples of failed attempts to address cyberspace issues, such as the 1996 Communications Decency Act. A central theme is that the architecture of cyberspace can be coded to address properly salient issues related to free speech, intellectual property, and privacy. This is a vital book for concerned citizens of cyberspace. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.
-Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Lib., New York
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School, and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school's Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

Lessig serves on the Board of Creative Commons, MapLight, Brave New Film Foundation, The American Academy, Berlin, AXA Research Fund and, and on the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation's Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American's Top 50 Visionaries.

Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.

Customer Reviews

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This is a very important book.
Gregory N. Hullender
This book makes you truly quite sensitive about your Customer - read chapter 7 before reading any other CRM books out there.
Supriyo B. Chatterjee
Lessig is particularly strong in his survey of the legal implications of the changes brought by cyberspace.
William B. Warner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Hiroo Yamagata on April 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
I did the Japanese translation of this book. It was quite an amazing book.
First, Lessig argues that commerce and the government will try to turn Internet into a regulable place, and in order to do so, they will rely on changing the code (or protocol) of the Internet.
Now, regulation through code is problematic, because it is TOO good. If its a law or some regulation, you can intentionally choose to disobey it, or rebel against it. With code, you can't do that. He says that this is bad, because a lot of good things in this world depend on the fact that you can't enforce certain laws too strictly. That's where some part of freedom relies on. If regulation becomes too strict, we're doomed.
So, we have to do something about it. We have to force people to create "incomplete" code!! This is the very surprising conclusion of this book. You really should read this, because it sounds too crazy at first glance.
And then, the book becomes even better. He starts discussing who would actually take the trouble to do that kind of thing. And he starts discussing how we should restore the democratic process, and how we are in a process of becoming a world citizen!
It's a book with an amazing scope, dealing with much more than the title suggests. And it's not just some sort of a fairy tale, it's a problem that's facing us as we speak. A lot of people talk about the Internet changing the world, when all they actually talk about is making some petty cash. Not this book. This book will persuade you that the Internet WILL and IS really changing the world. After this book, you're Net crawling will never be the same.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By William B. Warner on July 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
July 10, 2000 Who or what rules in that romantic frontier called cyberspace? As it evolves into an increasingly central part of "real space," will cyberspace take on the zoned and regulated and law bound character of the rest of civil society? In Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, Lawrence Lessig addresses these questions in three different ways: 1) he makes a crucial conceptual articulation between two kinds of code-computer code and law: each entails the sorts of structuring constraints familiar from architecture (code and law as two forms of architecture becomes the guiding metaphor of this book); 2) Lessig sounds a warning about the dangers of the regulated world he sees coming to cyberspace; and 3) Lessig submits a plea to his reader: that we deliberate about the sorts of code(s) within which (remembers it's an architecture) we will choose to live. What gives this argument its conceptual power and plausibility is a series of carefully developed theses about the code of cyberspace, the problem of regulation, and the solution: the deliberation upon a constitution for the digital age. 1: The open code of cyberspace. Since the matrix of cyberspace is woven from code, there is no fixed nature or essence to cyberspace. The Web may have started as a network woven from open software code, thereby embodying an ethos of liberty, but a comparison of the many different networks and network communities (AOL, listservs, avatar based networks, etc.) suggests the variety of different possible networks, the different sorts of social life they enable, and the way they are changing under the pressure of commerce. The code of cyberspace can be rewritten, and that process is going forward at this moment.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Will Rodriguez on June 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is another great book that discusses what is going on in cyberspace today (or 1999 when it was written) first by defining cyberspace as a place where we can create personalities and have the ability to speak like we would never do in the real world. The book then goes on to discuss how the internet is regulated or not regulated and what the internet can and should become.
The book starts out by discussing multiple forms of regulation and just because technology makes it easier to monitor or regulate does not mean that it is right or legal. The book also discusses what things should be regulated and how and who should regulate it. The next chapters go into Free Speech, Intellectual Property, Privacy and other freedoms we have and should fight to protect. The book talks about Open Source vrs Closed Source software and how regulation can and is added to each. One of the solutions of the book is to offer transparent regulation that allows user to know what is regulated. This is possible and is happening now in Open Source software but is not happening in closed source software. This is an excellent book that should help call us to action that will help provide the right kind of regulation while ensuring our freedoms or not reduced. This is a great book and I would recommend it..
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Snyder on October 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book, "Code," is one of the most important books I've read in a long time. His thesis, that "Code Is Law," that the "coders" have become de facto lawmakers, and that we, as a society, MUST understand the importance of the Internet's architecture, is presented in a very clear manner. Lessig has a real gift for taking complex legal/political arguments and making them clear for the lay person.
As a law student, I find it very easy to get lulled into the belief that the major legal and policy decisions have already been made. Such a belief would probably always be mistaken, and it's totally mistaken now. In the next few years, major decisions (with stunning Constitutional and social consequences) will be made. Who will make these decisions, and what the substantive content of these decisions will be, are open questions.
The Internet has great potential -- for both good and bad. What the Internet will look like in a decade, how free it will be, how intrusive it will be, will depend entirely on decisions being made now. This book takes the confusing world of Internet controversies and pulls them together to make a compelling and persuasive call to AWARENESS.
I recommend this book very highly.
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