Subject: Re: Lessig (was Re: As if the DMCA wasn't bad enough)
From: Rafe Colburn <>
Date: Wed, 12 Sep 2001 10:46:50 -0400

On Tue, Sep 11, 2001 at 03:01:51PM -0400, Russell Nelson wrote:
> Tim O'Reilly writes:
>  > Hey Russ, have you actually read Lessig yet?
> Yup, otherwise I wouldn't be opening my trap.  He has some valid
> points, but the basis of his arguments is wrong.  Code isn't law, code
> isn't even *like* law.  Is it a constraint?  Yes, of course it is.
> But it's a constraint that can be changed *except* when the law
> prohibits it.  Code is an engineering problem.  Law is a political
> problem.  I can solve engineering problems all by myself.  I don't
> need anyone's permission to solve an engineering problem.  Political
> problems are essentially intractable, because good law is a public
> good, and is underproduced.

 But isn't code an engineering problem only to the extent that you 
control the code?  

 For example, it has become possible over the last couple of decades
to easily keep detailed histories of everyone's financial transactions
which can be retrieved instantly.  It's not law that has provided 
corporations with this new capability, it's code.  But for me, the 
consumer, why does it matter?

 Can I write code that regulates the newfound ability of businesses
or the government to abuse this new access to detailed information that
was not available before?  How is protecting my privacy in this 
situation an engineering problem?

 Your example from an earlier email wasn't a good one.  
I'm not concerned about the code running on my computer, I'm concerned
about the code running on those run by the government, big corporations,
and other entities over which I basically have no influence.


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