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See Lawrence Lessig At BayFF Monday 27

If you can be at Stanford University on Monday, Katina Bishop of the Electronic Frontier Foundation wants you to drop by the BayFF's 7 p.m. meeting, featuring law professor Lawrence Lessig (author of Code, and Other Laws of Cyberspace) speaking on "Architecting Innovation," to take place in room 290 of the Stanford Law School, Crown Quadrangle. (The event will also be Web cast; see the BayFF homepage for a link to the webcast.) I sat in on the online privacy debate BayFF hosted last August, and was very impressed.
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See Lawrence Lessig At BayEFF Monday

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    He's a guy who professes law
    He's gonna speak at BayFF Monday
    He's good to me in long run
    He really whups a horse's ass

    Lawrence Kessig
    Lawrence Kessig
    Lawrence Kessig

    He's a profesor of law
    He's going to be at the conference
    He knows how to code in the cyberspace
    He professes the cyberspace to the max

    Lawrence Kessig
    Lawrence Kessig
    Lawrence Kessig

    (2 minute keyboard solo)

    He's going to the conference
    He really knows how to rock
    He likes the cyberspace
    He really knows how to rock Saddam Hussein's ass

    Lawrence Kessig
    Lawrence Kessig
    Lawrence Kessig

    Rock over London
    Rock on Chicago
    Microsoft: Where do you want to go today?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    MSN just ran an article on the EFF Here []. It made for an interesting read.
    The only item from the article that scared me was this - Per James Bradson, EFF Spokesman, "The EFF supports an Open Platform model of the global information infrastructure, providing discriminatory access, based on open, private-sector standards"
    Is it just me, or should that say "nondiscriminatory". Ohh Well
  • When they control all the content, they'll have an incredibly easy time gaining control of the rest of the web. It is already a PITA to access tons of content without accepting cookies; Microsoft and the RIAA are working hard to ensure that you can't access movies and the rest of the content of the web without IDing yourself to them. The "collective behavior" that you posit isn't very collective- already the vast majority of internetizens are AOLers, with matching attitudes and ignorance, and that percentage is just going to get sure. Sure, we (the digerati) may bitch and moan but that really won't stop anything that big business wants to shove down our throats. Unless government can help us out.
    That said- I'm not terribly sure that the very active role he posits for government is the solution. But something must occur. Otherwise, my Linux box will become a relic- because I'll need to buy a Windows box to rent a movie. :( And that is a self-sustaining kind of thing- once you've got that kind of lockin, and you've got 95% of the population, it doesn't matter what the 1337 of the 'net (basically us) think or do, because we don't matter in the large economic scale of things.
  • Actually, if you read his book ("Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace") or any of a number of his writings, you'll see that you've taken him badly out of context. Lessig is very strongly anti-certs and pro-anonymity on the web. He's just very pessimistic; he feels that because certs and identifiability are strongly supported by business they will triumph.
    In addition, if you'd actually bothered (again) to read his stuff, you'd see that he has a very reasonable position on government and the net. If government doesn't do it, business will. And if there is anything we can trust less than big government, it is big business. If you think that the mystical powers of the "internet" can somehow protect our rights against the DoubleClicks of the world without government intervention, you have another thing coming.
    So... in short, you've deliberately trolled by misquoting Lessig, and you've done it in ways that aren't even plausible to anyone who has read substantial amounts of Lessig's work. He isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination- but please make more plausible critiques than these two.
  • Lawrence lessig will also be appearing [] at the Commonwealth Club of California [] on Tuesday, February 20. This may be a more interesting appearance because the forum is not a traditional home of "cyber" issues. The Commonwealth Club is very much dedicated to all aspects of public affairs and has a very traditional [] (if staid) membership. I think it might be important to show policy groups such as this that these issues do matter in order to encourage more such events.
  • I attended the talk; it was really well done. Lessig's fundamental point is that the internet gives us the freedom it does due to its architecture and we shouldn't take that architecture for granted because it can change and will change. There are various large and powerful interest groups who consider the current degree of anonymity and flexibility the Net provides to be a bug rather than a feature.

    Given enough time, money, effort and legal support, bugs can be fixed. And will be.

    To the French government, the fact that Yahoo Auctions couldn't identify french users to stop them trading in nazi paraphernalia, was a bug that needed to be fixed.

    To US broadcasters, the fact that might be able to legally stream television stations for free to countries other than Canada, was a bug that needed to be fixed.

    Just as the original design of the net and the law surrounding it met the needs of the people designing it then, the net today is shaped by various groups with conflicting interests and needs. This shaping happens in all sorts of subtle ways. For instance, AT&T's cable modem service won't let you stream video not because the bandwidth isn't there so much as because that would compete with their profitable business in selling video streams aimed at your television. Your subscriber agreements with your DSL provider or cable provider explicitly give your provider veto power over what you do with the bandwidth. That's a fundamentally diffent model than the original net model, and that is the sort of thing we should be worrying about.

    To Lessig the fundamental characteristic of The Net that needs to be preserved is its ability to be extended by its users without a central authority being able to say "we won't allow that."

    During the Q&A at the end Lessig referred to Richard Stallman as "the philosopher of our time".

    Lessig also mentioned that he is currently helping to litigate against what he called "The Mickey Mouse Protection Act". Much applause.

    Before seeing this talk I had mixed opinions on Lessig. After seeing it I realize even the positions of his that I disagree with are highly nuanced and well-thought-out. He seeks out, listens to and understands opposing views. He is clueful.

    In summary, now that I've met the guy I'll probably have to read his damn book []. Like I don't have enough else to read... :-)

  • Well just goes to show that right after /. rule #1 "Always check that link before you click." is rule #2 "Never trust a link you haven't seen in its entirety." which is quickly follwed by rule 3 "Are you sure you trust that link?"
  • by Flower ( 31351 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @05:45PM (#439208) Homepage
    Talk about the art of the true lie...

    Prof. Lessig did not argue in favor of internet taxation. Let's look at the entire quote:

    The current no-tax scenario for Internet transactions is clearly a temporary situation. Given the explosive projections for the volume of Internet commerce, it is inevitable that online transactions are going to be taxed.

    I call that a prediction or analysis rather than arguing in favor of.

    As for keeping the government out of the Internet, let's start by keeping Big Business out of lawmaking. I can directly attribute bad laws, such as the DMCA, as coming from corporations and organizations like the MPAA who currently buy a louder voice than the average voter or activist group. I counter with Big Business must not be allowed to determine the direction of the Internet. Their needs must never take priority over any individual's.

    You may get a couple of moderators on crack to think your trash talk means something but I can say this. It isn't you talking to the DC Court of Appeals against the Sony Bono Copyright Act. I don't see your signature on a Amici Brief to get the DMCA overturned. I don't see you out on the stump going head to head with Jack Valenti over IP.

    Yeah, we should turn our backs on someone capable of and currently fighting for us on these issues just because he feels that Internet taxation is inevitable and that policymakers don't spend enough time thinking about how their laws will impact the Internet. What a betrayal!

    And yeah I already know I've been trolled. HAND.

  • That's true. There has to be a basis for all this. People complain incessantly about the law and rules. But how many people truly understand it and how it applies to them?
  • by SecretAsianMan ( 45389 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @05:09PM (#439210) Homepage

    What, is he gonna teach us to leverage our synergy to create dynamic paradigm shifts for prosumers?

    SecretAsianMan (54.5% Slashdot pure)
  • Oh stop trolling. Taxation of transactions on the internet is orthogonal to political/social "freedom" on the net. Think of it this way: if electronic commerce was taxed, then wouldn't the internet revert to the "golden days" of the eighties (and the web, the nineties), where there were much fewer idiot, AOLers, and banner ads throwing us into seizures? The evil "government", in fact, is the thing that is responsible for whatever freedoms you have on the net. We *cannot* naively ignore government. Idiot politicians will always pass stupid laws. People like ourselves, and the handful of ethical lawyers out there, *have* to be involved.
  • I went to the talk as well, and took quite a lot of notes on the Q+A, since the (Win98 running) streaming guys left during the break after the talk. However, the problem is that if I go to the bother and type them up, no one will ever see them, since this page hasn't gotten any new comments for a while. Sigh. If anyone is interested in my highly paraphrased notes, let me know.

  • I'm going too, and if anyone wants a ride from the san mateo / redwood city / menlo park area, just email me.
  • I know just what you mean....

    OTOH, I've met Lawrence Lessig, and he made me believe that just possibly there's at least one lawyer out there who makes a positive contribution to humanity.

    Of course, imagine what he might have achieved if he'd learned to play piano in a brothel 8-)

    He's a great speaker, he understands the issues we care about, and he understands how to make Washington and the court system work. If you can possibly attend, go to it.

  • I don't usually troll, I'm just curious if anyone will moderate this down before the posts below 1 are purged.
  • I agree with your point that Lessig is merely pessimistic rather than anti-freedom. However, I do disagree with your (implied) agreement with his belief in the lesser evil of government regulation over corporatisation. While the Internet does not (AFAIK :)) have any mystical powers to protect online rights, the collective behaviour of the online community can act on its behalf against the DoubleClicks of the world. I find it hardly credible that the net as a medium with amazing fluidity and adaptability will be easily controllable by the corporate giants of this world. mick
  • by coupland ( 160334 ) <> on Sunday February 11, 2001 @04:03PM (#439217) Journal
    I agree that the law can be a bit tedious, but it's such an integral part of this community that you can't afford to act like you don't care. Lawrence consistently offers a number of critical views on which the entire Slashdot community bases its opinion of the digital age and free speech. The law may not be our greatest passion but we're compelled to understand it if we want to defend against it.
  • I'm going to ask about decss. If you have any questions you want me to ask, post 'em here.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Sunday February 11, 2001 @08:53PM (#439219) Journal
    There was a fascinating interview of Laurence Lessig by Tim O'Reilly and editor Richard Koman, found here []. This is complete with audio (if you want) with your choice of Real Audio or MP3.

    In the intro to the interview, it is noted that Lessig will deliver a keynote titled "Free Code, Freeing Culture" at the O'Reilly Peer-to-Peer Conference on Friday, Feb. 16.

    It is a fascinating interview. In fact, I am surprised that it didn't get posted here because it is both intelligent and educational. It stimulates the brain cells it does.


    This is the most entertaining post in the thread. Moderators, please mod this up, I deserves a little exposure in such a dry thread.

  • If Lessig cannot get simple matters of policy as these correct, then why should we pay him any attention elsewhere? We should stick with people like Richard M Stallman, who know not to compromise on important principles. M

    Lessig could have corrected these "simple matters of policy" corrected if it weren't for people like Richard Stallman. Look, the issues are not nearly as simple as they appear. Allthe free love crowd like stallman, have made it increasingly harder for folks like Lessig to accomplish the task at hand. When it all boils down it's politics and the end consumer. Who's gonna win? You may think it will be the consumer but the political drivers will always come out on top.

  • Aah, what a rare pleasure to see people can read a book properly. Just wanted to add to remember, who owns the archives of millions of posts of the early years of usenet etc., I don't think it's the government, it's owned by businesses. (Alexa by etc).

    If I understand it correctly the files of the "public" domain are owned by private businesses, and can do with them what they want, more or less. Since when is that NOT a threat ?

    Only if the government owns our files, we feel threatened, but not if businesses own them ? Why ? If the government interferes with our privacy rights, you can vote it out. What can you do against a business, abusing your privacy rights ? You NEED your government and your laws to sue them. So, to me, this whole anti-government paranoia is a complete out of whack, knee-jerk reaction.

    That is exactly what is so important in Lessig's book, that he understands the counter-balancing check and balance between the four powers he describes within realms of Norm (moral code), Law (legal code), Market and Architecture (digital code).

    Should the government step in to limit the power of business to run roughshod over our rights to free speech and privacy ?

    That's why we vote to have a government, don't we ? What else is it for ? If it doesn't do, what we want it to do, it's us to make it do, what we need it to do for us. The power of the technology is as dangerous in the hands of an abusive government as it is in the hand of multinational, huge corporations. It's through your government that you can regulate both, government and big business, to check and balance their respective power and protect the individual's civil and privacy rights.

  • This is part of an ongoing series [] of such titles by Mr. Lessig, inlcuding:

    • The Architecture of Privacy
    • Cyberspace's Architectural Constitution.
    • Architecting for Control
    and my favorite,
    • It's the Architecture, Mr. Chairman.

    I am beggining to sense a trend here...
  • Voice your outrage against the DVD-CCA's crusade of strife, misery, and the pursuit of avarice.
  • Lawrence Lessig might look like a friend of freedom and free software, and he's supported by the EFF, so the appearance is a convincing one. Unfortunately for those of us who trust the EFF and who cherish freedom, Lessig cannot be trusted.

    In a 1998 interview [] with, Lessig argued in favor of internet taxation (calling the current tax-free model "temporary") and favored compulsory use of digital certificates for online commerce: "Using digital certificates, governments can require buyers and sellers to make their transactions accountable - and therefore taxable - in some sense. I see this happening on an increasing scale within the next couple of years." He has similarly expressed ambivalence as to whether technologies like encrypted watermarks in digital audio are good for freedom and consumers.

    In Lessig's own words, he is "concerned that the legal profession and policymakers do not think enough about the technological and architectural issues of the Internet." Why should they? Why would we want governments invading these realms of human interaction, when they've only caused trouble with their regulations elsewhere? The internet has thrived because it is free, not because of any government help (much less regulation). Governments must not be allowed to enter the realm of the internet. They are not welcome.

    If Lessig cannot get simple matters of policy as these correct, then why should we pay him any attention elsewhere? We should stick with people like Richard M Stallman, who know not to compromise on important principles. Those are the people who deserve our support. Lessig has let us down.
  • This is my first /. post, but I had to answer the only post on this topic that's not mired in potty humor. Thanks, Anne Marie, for at least addressing the topic. I'm not surprised that some folks think Lessig is anti-freedom, but I've been reading his book and I think that he's just a pessimist. He is concerned about issues like privacy and free speech on the net, and he wants lawyers and governments to get involved in legislating the architecture of cyberspace because if they do not do so, the private sector will. Digital certificates, identity authentication and content filtering are not just the future of the net, they are happening today. Lessig recognizes the trends that are developing and points out the threats to civil liberties in cyberspace. He would like to see law step in to regulate the architecture of cyberspace before the market does so to the detriment of everybody except for multinational corporations.
  • Exactly.

    Lessig makes it very clear near the beginning of "Code ..." that the freedom and anonymity we all remember from the Net circa '95 is evaporating quickly, as the Net changes to facilitate identity authentication to enable commerce. Net libertarians who believe that the Net is innately unregulable are wrong: the regulability of the Net is tied to its architecture (not only at the basic level of TCP/IP but at the application level) and this architecture is changing rapidly. Who is calling the shots here? Big Business, in the Bugs Bunny mask of AOL/Time/Warner/M$/etc.

    The knee-jerk response that says Big Government should not interfere with the architecture of cyberspace opens the door for the "market populism" of Big Business -- the notion that markets are, in some transcendent way, identifiable with democracy and the will of the people.

    Lessig argues that behavior (both in the real world and in cyberspace) is regulated by four constraints, which he identifies as Norms, Law, Markets, and Architecture. Since the "Bill of Rights" of cyberspace is entirely defined by its architecture, which is nothing more than code, the question is, who gets to define that code?

    Keep in mind that the vast majority of Net users are browsing the web with either Internet Explorer (M$), Netscape (AOL owns it), or AOL's crummy browser. These browsers are evolving rapidly to facilitate identity authentication for commerce, and in the process eroding the cherished anonymity of the browsing experience. These folks have no idea how much information about their browsing habits is being funnelled to the Spam Pyramids.

    So, should government step in to limit the power of business to run roughshod over our rights to free speech and privacy?

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.