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Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  1,619 ratings  ·  53 reviews
There’s a common belief that cyberspace cannot be regulated—that it is, in its very essence, immune from the government’s (or anyone else’s) control.Code argues that this belief is wrong. It is not in the nature of cyberspace to be unregulable; cyberspace has no “nature.” It only has code—the software and hardware that make cyberspace what it is. That code can create a pla ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 13th 2000 by Basic Books (first published January 1st 1999)
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 ·  1,619 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Steven Tomcavage
I had to read this for a class on technology and policy. It's the first book by Lessig that I've read. The writing seemed tortuous to get through, but maybe that's because it was edited by a group using a wiki. It's really not until the last couple chapters that Lessig reaches his thesis -- that we should be wary of taking a libertarian response towards changes to the architecture, norms, and laws of cyberspace. Lessig wants us to thoughtfully consider these changes and work within the structure ...more
Dec 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cyber Professionals
This is one of the seminal books in its field, but even v2.0 has been overtaken by events. It's time for v3.0.
So, the copy of the book currently with this reviewer has 410 pages.

There appear to be entire doctoral programmes available to address the issues presenting on page 7. (And page 11. And page 25.)

#aphids - p20, p59, p120, p121, p122, p123, p124, p125, p126, p127, p129, p130, p131, p132, p133, p135, p136, p139, p142, p143, p144, p145, p146, p151, p170, p180, p181, p182, p183, p184, p185, p186, p188, p191, p192, p193, p194, p197, p198, p199, p200, p203, p204, p206, p208, p209, p223, p233, p234, p23
Jeff Stern
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We have a choice in how code and the Internet rule our lives. Lessig, during the turn of the new millenium, urged us to consider this choice. The law, the market, social norms, and the architecture of code are four forces that shape our access to information and community. Lessig was early to identify many of the challenges we’re still grappling with on the web (eg. free speech, privacy, copyright). And even though many of his proposed solutions never came to fruition (eg. an identity layer, fi ...more
Jenny Domino
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant foundational text. Professor Lessig is a genius, eerily predicting in 1999 many of the problems of regulation, governance, and community that we face today with respect to social media. Famous for introducing the four forces of social theory (law, markets, norms, and code), this book, despite being dated in its examples, still offers foundational insights on how we should approach tech issues today. Professor Lessig writes clearly and simply on a complex topic (I expected as much thoug ...more
Nikhil Kumar
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an insightful thesis on the intersection of code, law and public policy. It presents, quite starkly, the regulatory power of code and how it is increasingly becoming a tool of control by states and corporations. It calls for all of us to understand and deliberate how we want this regulation to occur, because it is here to stay. It is unassuming in its simplicity, exhaustive in its description and amorphous in its prescriptions - it poses important and immediate questions for us to reckon ...more
Mar 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lessig's updated version of Code 2.0 was a requirement for a computer science elective I am taking. While I wouldn't say that I would have chose this book to read if it weren't part of the course, I actually found the material quite interesting.

The governance of cyberspace is something that most governments have not figured out how to accomplish effectively. Lessig lays out a plan for how this could be accomplished. Again, if you are not overwhelmingly interested in the subject or have a desire
The book tackles a very interesting topic: regulation in the age of cyberspace. Now, this 2006 book is a rewritting of a 1999 book, so today it's rather dated in its more technical details. Lessig argues that the Internet is moving away from its early ideals of freedom, anonymity and decentralization. The regulatory power of code in cyberspace could make the Internet "the most regulable space of human activity". That's one of the main statements of the book, which he develops convincingly in gre ...more
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Describes how the internet or cyberspace is being regulated and the role of code, encompassing embedded software and hardware code as well as current laws. With regulability being determined by architecture, norms, law and market forces, cyberspace may well end up being the most regulated and intrusive "space". In introducing cyberspace, it distinguishes cyberspace from the internet based on the lifespan plus the level of control and interaction e.g. internet banking vs a virtual world like Seco ...more
Andrew MacKie-Mason
In Code: Version 2.0 Lessig gives us the best kind of general-audience academic book. He focuses on asking questions and presenting frameworks of thought, but he doesn't hide his own opinions about how those questions should be resolved. He synthesizes literature and provides good references, but in an unobtrusive way that doesn't interrupt the flow of his own writing. And most importantly, he opens the door to an exciting array of ideas.

Personally, but I found most interesting were his theories
Brad McKenna
This book goes over the new challenges that the internet introduces. Gone is the idea of a black and white geological location of anyone connected to the Net. If you buy Nazi paraphernalia (ignoring for a moment the shameful fact that there is such a thing) in France from a person in the United States you've broken the law...or have you? In France, it's illegal to buy anything Nazi-related, in the US it's not.

This is but one example of the new problems we're dealing with because of how the inte
Jan 31, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very easy to read, but a bit repetitive. This is an interesting introduction to some regulation debates surrounding cyberspace.

It also proposes a specific fix to some of the problems (a coded ID system which would eliminate some of the anonymity of the web) which seems a bit too neat.

Having such a solution in the book is both a great virtue of it and a downside as well. The good part is that this solution makes the book not merely a series of paranoid criticisms, which is too often the norm in
Mar 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really terrific assessment of the current state of Information, particularly as it exists on the Internet. Lessig's biggest concerns are showing readers that the current state of the Internet has nothing to do with the essential nature of the Internet, but is rather the product of conscious choices that have been made to affect the code behind the Internet throughout its history. He also hammers home that a change in the code (or the law, norms, or market that house/effect the Internet ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this is the first of Lessig's books I've read, it seems to function as an introduction to the scope of his body of work. For that reason, and perhaps because the first edition was published in 1999, it is at times rather pedagogic, especially for someone who has grown up with the internet. His style is lucid and readable, although I think 15-20% of the text is spent talking about the arguments he is going to make, as opposed to simply making them. Still, a work of formidable intellectual v ...more
Heather West
Jun 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: internettech, science, law
An interesting take on the internet and digital technology in general. Lessig claims that far from being an anarchy, the internet is bound rigidly by a set of laws: its code. By changing the design of the code, we change the space, the culture, the use.

Lessig argues for a series of changes which he thinks should be made to the code. Many of these deal with the intellectual property, copyright, and ownership issues which Lessig deals with at Creative Commons.

This is the older version of the book
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Had to read this for a class, but was surprised to see I actually enjoyed it! A really easy, interesting read about the effect of the internet and technology on our culture, law and government. There is some scary stuff in here about the power of technology and what people are willing to give up in terms of human rights, just so they can have their life somewhat easier because of internet capabilities. Big Brother stuff all over the place..only it's true and Lessing shows you where and how to co ...more
Apr 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Would have given it 2 1/2 stars if I was able to. It was it as required reading for a class..a bit of it went a bit above my head. But the majority was also a bit outdated as this was written in 1999. He has a newer version of this from 2006, and I wish I had read that instead. I believe the newer one would have different views of his ideas of controlling and regulating the Internet and whether it is possible...discussing law, code, and the ethics it involves. It was interesting, but ...more
Duane Bowker
Aug 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Discussion of the internet and related information technologies from a legal and regulatory view. An excellent presentation of constitutional issues arising from information technologies, covering such big-ticket topics as privacy, sovereignty, free speech and protection of intellectual property. I found it to be a thought-provoking and informative coverage of these issues that goes well beyond considerations surrounding information technologies.
Budi Rahardjo
Oct 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
A great book. It gives me a fresh look at how technology affects laws (and how people react to it). Lessig is one of my fav writers.

This book is a must if you want to study (or just want to know the issue around) cyberlaw. Granted, his view is more closer to the open source and anti-IPR people like me.
Aug 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: technology
A great book - Dr. Lessig is a gifted thinker, and this book (both versions) were prescient in identifying what have become increasingly important issues surrounding the Web. It's not super accessible, but if you care about these issues, especially from a legal or policy perspective, then this book is a must-read.
Max McCann
Aug 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
I'm skeptical (and a little surprised) by Lessig's willingness to embrace a top-down architecture approach to net design, but this book is a must-read for anyone that wants to be more than just a surfer.
Dec 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nerdy-nonfiction
while i appreciate the updated-as-a-wiki sort of thing, it reads as if it were written by committee. which is very disappointing since Lessig's other books show that he is actually a fantastic writer.

Still, good info if you're into it.
Jan 26, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book has some fairly interesting perspectives on our situation of being in the real world and cyberspace at the same time, and what that means for everything from copyright to consumerism. However, I think it was overly wordy and got into too many side topics.
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly insightful and densely packed. Lessig not only examines the implications of online design and functioning (and of the decisions made that result in and/or support both); he offers well-thought-out approaches to combating the more troubling aspects of the digital world.
Anton Zolotarjov
The first edition of this book is slightly outdated.
But nevertheless, it is interesting to reflect on what has actually happened from the predictions of this book.
I find the language a bit boring at times, maybe because it was written by a lawyer.
Jun 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all internet users
A must-read for anyone who spends at least an hour of their lives on the internet.

Sep 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People terrified of the Internet
Shelves: what-i-study
This book made me want to move off the grid...
Dec 27, 2007 rated it liked it
Interesting and timely read given the current debate on network neutrality.
Apr 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Revisiting Lessig for the dissertation, particularly his perspectives on regulation.
Aug 31, 2008 marked it as to-read
Author: Lawrence Lessig
Publisher: Basic Books, 2000
ISBN: 046503912X, 0465039138

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Lawrence "Larry" Lessig is an American academic and political activist. He is best known as a proponent of reduced legal restrictions on copyright, trademark, and radio frequency spectrum, particularly in technology applications.

He is a director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University and a professor of law at Harvard Law School. Prior to rejoining Harvard, he was

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You know the saying: There's no time like the present...unless you're looking for a distraction from the current moment. In that case, we can't...
30 likes · 11 comments
“Liberty in cyberspace will not come from the absence of the state. Liberty there, as anywhere, will come from a state of a certain kind. We build a world where freedom can flourish not by removing from society any self-conscious control, but by setting it in a place where a particular kind of self-conscious control survives. We build liberty as our founders did, by setting society upon a certain constitution.” 1 likes
“The struggle in that world will not be government’s. It will be to assure that essential liberties are preserved in this environment of perfect control. As Siva Vaidhyanathan puts it,” 0 likes
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