Subject: Re: Lessig (was Re: As if the DMCA wasn't bad enough)
From: "Tim O'Reilly" <>
Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 09:34:17 -0400

Hey Russ, have you actually read Lessig yet?  Last time you ranted about
him, you hadn't ever read his book and in fact refused to do so, which
greatly reduced your credibility.  

Even if you have by now, your posting indicates that you didn't read him
very closely, or else are intentionally oversimplifying his views in
order to make your point.  

I really don't understand the tendency of some members of this community
to turn on people who should be their natural allies.  It's OK to
disagree, but this rabid dismissal (with inaccurate portrayals of their
position) of people who disagree with you on some minor point is just

Hey, I'm not a libertarian either.  So everything I say must be wrong as

Lessig makes a very thoughtful and nuanced argument about the
relationship of code, law, markets and social norms.  He doesn't just
say "code is law" -- he says that code alters the framework in which
laws are interpreted and made effective, and that right now, a
combination of changes in law and changes in code are a great threat to
civil liberties.  

Take the DMCA.  This isn't just a law against certain activities, it's a
law protecting code that prevents those activities.  This is a seemingly
subtle difference that has far reaching consequences, criminalizing a
whole set of behaviors that in themselves are not currently illegal. 
This is a significant legal change.

Lessig makes many rich and thought provoking points.  They are not all
right, but they are all worthy of serious thought, not casual, knee-jerk

Russell Nelson wrote:
> 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.  

Tim O'Reilly @ O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
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+1 707-829-0515, FAX +1 707-829-0104,