Subject: Re: FSBs and client-server
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Sat, 27 May 2000 18:16:54 -0700

Russell Nelson wrote:
> Tim O'Reilly writes:
>  > This is an example of the ways that code and "law" need to co-evolve, a
>  > position that is very well argued by Larry Lessig's book, Code and other
>  > Laws of Cyberspace (  (I highly recommend
>  > the book.  You can read my brief review of it in my weblog at
>  >
> I'm of two minds.  On the one hand, I can't plausibly criticize his
> ideas without reading them.  On the other hand, I don't want to lend
> one iota of credence to his ideas by purchasing the book.  God forbid
> it should be my purchase which gets him on any best-seller list.  If
> you're looking for a good book to read, go read _Law's Order_ by David
> Friedman.

What an odd idea, that you don't want to buy a book with which you might
> >From the little I have gathered from what people have said, and the
> excerpts on his web page, he's dubious of the libertarian philosophy.
> A lot of smart people are dubious of a free market, because they think
> that they can do better because they're so smart, and, well, because
> everybody else is dumber than them.  They think that they can escape
> the problems of the free market (which are severe) by deciding on the
> right thing to do, and then forcing everyone to do it.

You probably got this idea from Eric Raymond, who I believe badly
misrepresented Lessig's point of view in their exchange.  That got
Larry's dander up, and he made some disparaging comments about Eric's
libertarian leanings.  I thought Larry got a bit out of hand in his
response, but Eric clearly didn't understand his book (if he'd even read
it) and was making fairly wild statements about it, just as you are
doing here.

I think EVERYONE on this list, libertarian or not, ought to read
Lessig's book, and if that makes it a bestseller, that would be a good

Lessig's main point is that absent changes in regulation, the
regulations we already have will create different effects than they do
now, because of changes in technology.  A good example:  the original
supreme court rulings on wiretaps held that they weren't an invasion of
privacy, because under the "architecture" of our society at the time the
constitution was written only invasion of your physical premises was
considered to be subject to constitutional restrictions on government

Lessig's arguments can be used as effectively to counter further
intrusions of government into the market or individual rights as they
can to suggest the opposite.  

Anyone who believes that government (and other forms of regulation,
including the framework of contract and copyright law that covers all
the free software and open source licenses that are the foundation for
the businesses discussed on this list) has a role in shaping our society
for good or ill, and that it is the duty of citizens to think about the
implications of that regulation, should read Lessig's book and think
about his arguments.  If being a libertarian means that pretending that
goverment doesn't exist, then follow Russ's advice above.

> There should be ample evidence that this is not possible.  For
> example, the Anti-Federalists were right.  They made certain
> predictions about how centralization would work if it were not
> prohibited, and those predictions came true.  For another, whenever
> the government decides matters of religion, it creates the seeds of
> war.  Why should economics be any different?

Read the bloody book, and then comment.  Again, completely irrelevant to
anything Lessig says. 
> --
> -russ nelson <>
> Crynwr sells support for free software  | PGPok | "Ask not what your country
> 521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315 268 1925 voice | can force other people to
> Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  | +1 315 268 9201 FAX   | do for you..."  -Perry M.

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
101 Morris Street, Sebastopol, CA 95472
+1 707-829-0515, FAX +1 707-829-0104,