Subject: Re: Lessig (was Re: As if the DMCA wasn't bad enough)
From: Russell Nelson <>
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 00:57:13 -0400 (EDT)

 Tue, 11 Sep 2001 00:57:13 -0400 (EDT)
Karsten M. Self writes:
 > Lessig Is GodŽ.
 >  Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace  is highly recommended.  His NYT
 > editorial on Sklyarov is featured at the
 > website under literature.  He's a boardmember of the EFF.  Read his
 > shit, he gets it.

No, actually, he doesn't get it.  He complains that libertarians think
that the main enemy is government, and that Code Is Law.  Problem is:
code isn't law.  Law is law, and only law can prevent me from changing
a program.  I have a source code file for MS-DOS's version
1.0.  Nobody gave me this file; I created it myself.  I have made
improvements to it.  Had that code tried to prevent me from doing
things, I could have removed the code.

Of course, now we have a DMCA that says that I can't do that.  We also
have a copyright law that says that I can't redistribute my
improvements to  But whose fault is that?  Not the code
itself -- I can change the code.  Not the invisible hand which Larry
continually faults.  Not community norms either.  No, it's the fault
of the government.  It's a failure of collective action.

Code isn't law.  Law is law.  Code is mutable unless law says it
isn't.  Larry's basic blindness can be seen at the end of Chapter
Eleven where he says ".... collective action is just what politics is
for."  This is wrong.  Politics is for deciding who gets to use force
and when.  Collective action is for groups that have collected
together for the purpose of taking action.  E.g. the EFF.

There's a reason why I'm a libertarian, and there's a reason why I
have a free software business, and there's a reason why I run this
mailing list.  Simply: because I feel that it is immoral to take money
from people by pointing a gun at them.  Everything political happens
because of a gun, even if that gun is holstered.

-russ nelson <>
Crynwr sells support for free software  | PGPok | The most basic moral/ethical
521 Pleasant Valley Rd. | +1 315 268 1925 voice | question is who gets to use
Potsdam, NY 13676-3213  | +1 315 268 9201 FAX   | force, and when -- ESR