What Larry Doesn't Get: Code, Law, and Liberty in Cyberspace

21 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2000


Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace is Lawrence Lessig's ambitious attempt to make sense of the new kinds of legal and regulatory problems that cyberspace presents to us. It is built upon the foundational premise that code - the hardware and software elements that populate this new place, and the communication protocols that allow these elements to interact with one another - defines the architecture of this new space and is of paramount importance in determining how it will be regulated. As an anthropology of the various new regulatory and quasi-regulatory structures that may arise on the global network, Lessig's book is captivating and often dazzling; he demonstrates, compellingly, that cyberspace is a place in which code dominates, a world in which code is law. As a normative call to arms, however, the book is somewhat less successful. Lessig argues that because we are the code writers - because cyberspace is a made, not a found, world - control over the code needs to be subject to political, collective decision-making. I suggest several reasons why this conclusion might not follow as smoothly from the premise as Lessig might have us believe.

Keywords: internet, Lessig, code

JEL Classification: K10, K33

Suggested Citation

Post, David G., What Larry Doesn't Get: Code, Law, and Liberty in Cyberspace. Stanford Law Review, Vol. 52, p. 1439, 2000, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=251014

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