Lawrence Lessig on Cyberspace - Dictionary of Arguments
Cyberspace/Lessig: Cyberspace, is not just about making life easier. It is about making life different, or perhaps better. It is about making a different (or second) life.
Cyberspace has changed in part because the people—who they are,what their nterests are—have changed, and in part because the capabilities provided by the
space have changed. But part of the change has to do with the space itself. Communities,
exchange, and conversation all flourish in a certain type of space; they are extinguished in a different type of space. (1)
Spaces have values.6 They manifest these values through the practices or lives that they enable or disable.
Choices mean that differently constituted spaces enable and disable differently. The blind could easily implement speech programs that read the (by definition machine-readable) text and could respond by typing.Other people on the Net would have no way of knowing that the person typing the message was blind, unless he claimed to be. The blind were equal to the seeing.
Trespass law/Harold Reeves/Lessig: should there be a trespass law for the cyberspace? (2) – Reeves initial idea was simple: There should be no trespass law in cyberspace.2 The law should grant “owners” of space in cyberspace no legal protection against invasion; they should be forced to fend for themselves. What means would bring
about themost efficient set of protections for property interests in cyberspace? One is the traditional protection of law […]The other protection is a fence, a technological device (a bit of code) that (among other things) blocks the unwanted from entering.
The implication of this idea in real space is that it sometimesmakes sense to shift the burden of protection to citizens rather than to the state. […]Reeves argues that the costs of law in this context are extremely high—in part because of the costs of enforcement, but also because it is hard for the law to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate uses of cyberspaces.
Cyberspace will open up three important choices in the context of intellectual property: whether to allow intellectual property in effect to become completely propertized (for that is what a perfect code regime for protecting intellectual property would do); and whether to allow this regime to erase the anonymity latent in less efficient architectures of control; and whether to allow the expansion of intellectual property to drive out amateur culture. These choices were not made by our framers. They are for us to make now.
Spaces like Second Life richly control the life of people playing there. Indeed, the whole objective of playing there is create the impression that one is there. These, again, are the sorts of places I call cyberspace. Cyberspace is very different from life on a bill-paying website, or on a site holding your e-mail. Code controls these, too. But the control, or sovereignty, of those sites is distinct from the control of Second Life. In Second Life, or in
what I’ve defined to be cyberspace generally, the control is ubiquitous; on a
bill-paying website, or on what I’ve called the Internet, the control is passing, transitory. Interestingly, there is an important dynamic shift that we’ve already identified, more in thinly controlling spaces than thick. This is the preference for code controls where code controls are possible.
Think again about the bill-paying website. It is of course against the law to access someone’s bank account and transfer funds fromthat account without the authorization of the account owner. But no bank would ever simply rely upon the law to enforce that rule. Every bank adds a complex set of code to authenticate who you are when you enter a bill-paying website. Where a policy objective can be coded, then the only limit on that coding is the marginal
cost of code versus the marginal benefit of the added control. But in a thickly controlling environment such as Second Life, there’s a limit to the use of code to guide social behavior.
Democracy/cyberspace/Castronova/Lessig: the single most interesting nondevelopment in cyberspace is that,again, as Castronova puts it, “one does not find much democracy at all in
synthetic worlds.” (3)
David Post: Communities in cyberspace, Post argues, are governed by “rule-sets.”We can understand these rule-sets to be the requirements, whether embedded in the architecture
or promulgated in a set of rules, that constrain behavior in a particular place.
Cyberlaw/internet law/international law/Lessig: if you’re offering Nazi material, and a French citizen enters your site, you should block her, but if she is a U.S. citizen, you can serve her. Each state would thus be restricting the citizens of other states as those states wanted. But citizens fromits nation would enjoy the freedoms that nation guarantees. This world would thus graft local rules onto life in cyberspace.
Each state […] has its own stake in controlling certain behaviors, and these behaviors differ. But the key is this: The same architecture that enables Minnesota to achieve its regulatory end can also help other states achieve their regulatory.
An ID-rich Internet would facilitate international zoning and enable this structure of international control. Such a regime would return geographical zoning to the Net. It would reimpose borders on a network built without those borders.[…] To those who love the liberty of the original Net, this regime is a nightmare. […] Of course, my view is that citizens of any democracy should have the freedom to choose what speech they consume. But I would prefer they earn that freedom by demanding it through democratic means than that a technological trick give it to them for free.[…] This regime gives each government the power to regulate its citizens; no government should have the right to do anything more.
1. See Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon,Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the
Internet (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), 62–63.
2. Harold Smith Reeves, “Property in Cyberspace,” University of Chicago Law Review 63
3. Castronova, Synthetic Worlds, 207._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Code: Version 2.0 New York 2006ff