Subject: Re: Lessig/FSBs and client-server
From: Jean Camp <>
Date: Sun, 7 Jan 2001 12:53:03 -0500

I think it odd to see the hostility to Lessig's book here. Much of what I
read seem to be the restatement of the obvious from free/open code. First
of all, that unexamined ubiqitious power is not good. He points out to the
lawyers that unexamined power of this type is implemented in widely adopted
code. He has a very clear undertone of 'code as law' in his book. Certainly
lawyers think what is important about open/free code may be very different
than what programmers think. That does not autmatically make the
perspective of lawyers wrong.

Certainly he picks fights with his contempt for silly-assed libertarianism.
{Funny, for a (previously) southern liberal who used to be frequently
invited to "Russia" when it was the Soviet Union for liberal views now I
can honestly invite people to Russia or Albania to see what happens when
libertarianism creates a power vacuum.}  But if you get over having your
nose pinched you will find that much of what he says is a translation to
lawyers about open/free code.

-code should be examined

rule-making should not occur in private

-intellectual property rules should not protect closed rule-making

-innovation wil be harmed by taking the popular economic view of
intellectual property

(gee, you think economic theory applies to economic theory, that which is
paid for is what will reign?)

-fundamental democratic freedoms can be altered by 'law' made in code.

Larry Lessig is an important champion. He translates things into phrases
and concepts which lawyers can undertand. While he is not as significant a
theorist as Pam Smauelson, Julie Cohen, or Jessica Lippman (SP?) he plays a
very important role in the legal community of getting it to understand that
there are questions beyond, "Which law will best supports the dominant
business practices of content producers against the threat of the
revolutionary --and thus clearly  illegitimate -- digital world?"

You may not like him but I think that you should acknowledge the importance
of his role. He has increased awareness of the questions significantly in
the legal community.  Think of him as the self-appointed lobbyist for
open/free code. You may not like lobbyist but they are important right now.
And he does it for free, like in beer.