Lawrence Lessig: Cyberlaw Superstar Essay

2410 words - 10 pages

Cyberlaw is a relatively new area of jurisprudence and telecommunications policy, where technology and law intersect. From the controversies over intellectual property rights, free speech, fair use and other issues has emerged a voice described in as the "Paul Revere of the Web" (Mullaney & Greene). Lawrence Lessig is both an intellectual and an activist, a constitutional scholar and an original thinker who has an enormous following not only in academic circles but also in the popular press and in the web logs of cyber geeks and Internet activists.Career Overview.Lessig was born in 1961 in South Dakota, but at an early age his family moved to Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Intellectually ...view middle of the document...

In addition to teaching, Lessig has been a columnist for a number of publications:-Industry Standard (1998-2001)-CIO Insight (2002-03)-Red Herring (2002-03)He currently writes for Wired Magazine (since 2003). He also has served on the board for a number of organizations relating to such issues in cyberlaw as freedom of expression and intellectual property rights:-Redhat Center for the Public Domain-Software Freedom Law Center-Free Software Foundation-Electronic Frontier Foundation-Creative Commons (co-founder)Prominent Publications.Lessig has been a prolific writer, producing four books, 61 articles, and 90 essays. He has presented papers and/or addressed over 200 seminars, conferences, and workshops worldwide. With the publication of Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace in 1999, Lessig synthesized many of his writings on software code as having the force of law. At that time, the Internet was (and is) seen as an unregulable space of freedom. Lessig, however, demonstrated that in cyberspace as in real life, actors are constrained and regulated by the law, the market, and architecture (viz. code). But at the same time these four modalities may protect the actor from harm by other three. Companies are designing the architecture of cyberspace to violate free speech, privacy, competition, and courts and legislatures must intervene, but only insofar as to change the architecture to be more what the Internet was originally envisioned to be. "If the architecture is correct, there's less need for government to intervene to protect values or to perfect competition" (qtd. in Mullany & Greene).The publication of Code established Lessig as a leader in cyberlaw and confirmed his conversion from the American right wing to the left -- though as the quote above illustrates it would be an oversimplification to say that he is staunchly pro-government regulation. As he makes clear The Future of Ideas (200X), in the areas of intellectual property rights and spectrum allocation he favors less government control, with some exceptions. He argues that government should prevent corporations from using legal and technical means (such as copyright abuse) to stifle creativity and destroy the innovation commons that is the Internet.The Future of Ideas ends with a call to action to halt the Internet from falling under systems of control by "Big Media." Lessig hones both his ideas and his activism in his third book, Free Culture. In this monograph he analyzes the tensions between free exchange of ideas on the hand and intellectual property rights on the other. He argues that we are in danger of losing a great number of works due to over-assertion copyright law, and discusses in detail his experiences and mistakes in the case of Eldrich v. Ashcroft (see Major Litigation, below). Free Culture is Lessig's first book to be published under the Creative Commons License, a flexible copyright alternative (see Organizations for more information, below), and as such is available...

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