Subject: Re: the value chain
From: Lynn Winebarger <>
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 11:17:14 -0500 (EST)

On 10 Dec 1999, Ian Lance Taylor wrote:
> But, as people often point out, lawyers become rich purely on service.
> Their data is free to all.
> A lawyer must pass the bar exam in order to practice law in front of a
> court (at least in the U.S.), but most lawyer's work is not in court,
> and could, in principle, be done by anyone.
> Legal data has become too complex to understand through the accretion
> of centuries (and some would say deliberate obfuscation).  Computer
> programs start out too complex to understand.
   Actually, I was reading a review of Lawrence Lessig's "Code and other
laws of cyberspace", and noticed the similarity between legal "code" and
software; that is, legal code can be viewed as a program to produce
certain societal results.
   I think legislators could stand a few programming courses.  Then again,
I can't imagine trying to write software with an engineering process like
the legislative process we have (built on compromise).  

> I think it's hard to become rich controlling data you don't create
> yourself.  Information wants to be free.
   Try Westlaw - they have a huge database of public documents (court
decisions) that they charge access for.  They're a big backer of the
attempts to extend copyright protection to databases.