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Web Extra

Code v1 vs. Code v2


See “Lessig’s Lesson.”

First edition, from Preface:

It is not hard to understand how the Net could become the perfect space of regulation or how commerce would play a role in that regulation…It is inevitable that an increasingly large part of the Internet will be fed by commerce, and most don’t see anything wrong with that either. Indeed, we live in a time (again) when it is commonplace to say: let business take care of things. Let business self-regulate the Net. Net commerce is the new hero.

Code v.2:

It is no longer hard to understand how the Net could become a more perfectly regulated space or how the forces behind commerce could play a role in facilitating that regulation … . It is inevitable that an increasingly large part of the Internet will be fed by commerce. Most don’t see anything wrong with that either. The “terrifying” has now become normal, and only the historians (or authors of old books like this) will notice the difference.


First edition, from “Code Is Law”:

This book is about that change, and about how we might prevent it. When we see the path that cyberspace is on—an evolution I describe in part 1—we see that much of the “liberty” present at cyberspace’s founding will vanish in its future. Values that we now consider fundamental will not necessarily remain. Freedoms that were foundational will slowly disappear.

Code v2:

This book is about the change from a cyberspace of anarchy to a cyberspace of control. When we see the path that cyberspace is on now—an evolution I describe below in Part I—we see that much of the “liberty” present at cyberspace’s founding will be removed in its future. Values originally considered fundamental will not survive. On the path we have chosen, we will remake what cyberspace was. Some of that remaking will make many of us happy. But some of that remaking, I argue, we should all regret.


First edition, from “What Declan Doesn’t Get”:

Governments should intervene, at a minimum, when private action has negative public consequences; when shortsighted actions threaten to cause long-term harm; when failure to intervene undermines significant constitutional values and important individual rights; and when a form of life emerges that may threaten values we believe to be fundamental….If we believe that government cannot do anything good, then (journalist and programmer Declan McCullagh’s) plea—that it do nothing—makes sense…I’ve advocated a different response. We need to think collectively and sensibly about how this emerging reality will affect our lives. Do-nothingism is not an answer; something can and should be done.

Code v2:

In my view, governments should intervene, at a minimum, when private action has negative public consequences; when shortsighted actions threaten to cause long-term harm; when failure to intervene undermines significant constitutional values and important individual rights; when a form of life emerges that may threaten values we believe to be fundamental; and when we can see that failing to intervene on the side of right will simply strengthen the interventions on the side of wrong. Such intervention must be limited; it must be engaged with all the awareness about the failures of government that right thinking sorts can muster. But action defending right should not be stopped merely because some goes wrong. When those who believe in the liberty of cyberspace, and the values that liberty promotes, refuse to engage with government about how best to preserve those liberties, that weakens liberty. Do-nothingism is not an answer; something can and should be done.


First edition, from “Code Is Law”:

We are at a stage in our history when we urgently need to make fundamental choices about values, but we trust no institution of government to make such choices. Courts cannot do it, because as a legal culture we don’t want courts choosing among contested matters of values, and Congress should not do it because, as a political culture, we so deeply question the products of ordinary government.

Code v2:

We are at a stage in our history when we urgently need to make fundamental choices about values, but we should trust no institution of government to make such choices. Courts cannot do it, because as a legal culture we don’t want courts choosing among contested matters of values. Congress should not do it because, as a political culture, we are deeply skeptical (and rightly so) about the product of this government. There is much to be proud of in our history and traditions. But the government we now have is a failure. Nothing important should be trusted to its control, even though everything important is.

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