Abstract: Lawrence Lessigs Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace is an important book, critical reading for anyone interested in the future of Internet policy. It is a dense and multi-layered indictment of the net.libertarians fondness for what Lessig calls policy-making by the invisible hand; left to itself, Lessig argues, commercial forces will gain control over the architectures of cyberspace, and cyberspace will fail to realize its profound promise and will become a place of perfect control. For Lessig, the choices that cyberspace forces on us are the stuff of politics, not markets; we need more politics, not less, if we are to preserve fundamental constitutional values in this new space. While there is much that is thought-provoking and at times even profound in Lessigs analysis, I suggest in this essay a number of reasons why Lessigs larger argument fails to persuade, foremost among them his unwarranted exaltation of collective decision-making and his unwillingness to accept the virtues of uncoordinated, bottom-up spontaneous order as a means of allowing policy to develop in an uncoerced manner in cyberspace.
Working Paper #21
What Larry Doesnt Get
A Libertarian Response to Lessigs Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace