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Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0 2nd Revised ed. Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0465039142
ISBN-10: 0465039146
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Lessig] is fast emerging as the nation's most original thinker in the new field of cyberspace."

"A book that's sometimes as brilliant as the best teacher you ever had, sometimes as pretentious as a deconstructionists' conference."

"In this remarkably clear and elegantly written book, [Lessig] takes apart many myths about cyberspace and analyzes its underlying architecture."

The "alarming and impassioned" book on how the Internet is redefining constitutional law, now reissued as the first popular book revised online by its readers.

"A remarkable work on the philosophy of this new medium, his latest book asks all the big questions about the role of government, commerce and the invisible hand of technology in shaping life as it is increasingly lived online."

"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

About 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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 2nd Revised ed. edition (December 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465039146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465039142
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Baum on December 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
You can download this book at no charge in pdf format from Lessig's site.
3 Comments 134 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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If you take Web 2.0 at all seriously then, whatever your political or philosophical persuasion, Larry Lessig's Code: Version 2.0 is a compulsory read. My own political and philosophical persuasion is considerably different from Lessig's and consequently I don't entirely agree with either his conclusions or the weight he attaches to some of his concerns, but I still take my hat off to his methodological and philosophical achievement: Code: Version 2.0 presents a novel and undoubtedly striking re-evaluation of some fundamental social, legal and ethical conceptions and makes an entirely persuasive case that our traditional, deeply-held, and politically entrenched ways of looking at the world simply aren't fit for purpose any more.

Intellectually, this is therefore an extraordinary, eye-opening, paradigm shifting, challenging, exhilarating read. (I note some previous comments that this is a book for lawyers: I'm a lawyer, so perhaps that explains my enthusiasm, but this is no ordinary legal text, and should be of interest to anyone with a political, philosophical or scientific bone in their body.)

Lawrence Lessig charts, with a fair bit of technical specificity, the technical and epistemological grounds for thinking that the internet revolution (and specifically the "Web 2.0" revolution) is as significant as any societal shift in human history. Generally, this is not news for people in the IT industry - who deal with its implications day to day - but for our legal brethren, who tend of be of a conservative (f not technophobic) stripe, this ought to be as revelatory (and revolutionary) as Wat Tyler's march on London. Now we have a hyperlinked, editable digital commons, the assumptions with which we have constructed our society need to be rethunk.
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Professor Lessig describes how managing copyright for the digital age will have an impact upon every individual in the future. As we develop and share digitial content how we protect or even abuse copyright will determine if the Internet and other digital technologies will improve information for the global citizen. We stand at the door of one of the greatest era in history, however, how we use and protect digitial information will determine how history will judge our efforts for generations to come. Lessig's book gives us the foundation to build upon and will be up to each individual to determine the final outcome.
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The book is intelligently and well written, and a must read for those who have a serious interest in the future of our civiliation.
One of the fascinating things about the book, that was recently written, is that the future problems the book foresees are already passe. Internet privacy is now an illusion. Any email or message in cyberspase can appear the next day on the front page of the New York Times. Lessig would like to control the misuse of cyberspace, but his suggestions are merely theoretical and because of the chaotic state of conflicting tribes and governments, these methods have no teeth. As is so often the case, it may take a catastrophe, like breaking the code oCode: And Other Laws of Cyberspace, Version 2.0f an encrypted lethal message between nations, to generate international regulation of cyberspace.
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Before Larry Lessig began teaching a course on "cyberlaw" in the 1990s, few people knew this awkward term for "regulation of the Internet." But Lessig, now a professor at Stanford Law School, has always kept close to the bleeding edge of technology. He started programming in high school and later helped the U.S. Supreme Court go digital. Even this book's development shows the author's geek //bona fides:// He revised it using a "wiki," a software platform that allows multiple users to edit the text simultaneously via the Web. While the book's details have changed a bit since the first edition, Lessig's main point is the same. Because of its design, the Internet is perhaps the most "regulable" entity imaginable and, unless its users are careful, it will morph into something that diminishes, rather than enhances, liberty. Moreover, trying to keep the Internet "unregulated" is folly. While this book is sometimes bloated and repetitive, we find that it is still required reading for anyone who cares about the social impact of the most important technology since electrification.
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Code 2.0 Summary
The Internet is a medium through which the individual is provided with both extreme freedom and complete control. As Lessig suggests in Code 2.0, this dichotomy presents a delicate balance towards the abilities and uses of the hardware and software of the digital age. By comparing the inner workings of the regulation of cyberspace to the Constitution, Lessig establishes a dialogue that addresses the idea that a new form of regulation is to be created in order to maintain control over cyberspace. He defines code as the basic governing structure upon which the Internet is founded and ascertains that “code is a regulator in cyberspace because it defines the terms upon which cyberspace is offered” (6). Lessig uses this definition throughout his argument to support the idea that, in its ability to do and create anything within the virtual space, it is able to establish complete control over the Internet. He presents the potential for the regulation of this code and, furthermore, the regulation of cyberspace as a whole. Through stories and examples of this paradox in action, he shows the many ways in which code can be used to control situations that initially break the possibilities in the real world. He poses the question, “We will see that cyberspace does not guarantee its own freedom but instead carries an extraordinary potential for control. And then we will ask: How should we respond?” (5). He establishes that cyberspace can be regulated through four underlying factors: architecture, norms, law, and market. These broad categories encompass that framework that Lessig suggests is the infrastructure that allows the possibility of bring order and regulation to a tool that can make virtually anything possible.
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