"Lawrence Lessig is perhaps the most prominent legal thinker on
the intersection of the law and the Internet. He will deliver a
keynote titled "Free Code, Freeing Culture" at the O'Reilly
Peer-to-Peer Conference on Friday, Feb. 16. Lessig is a professor
of law at Stanford Law School. He was the Berkman Professor of Law
at Harvard Law School. From 1991-97, he was a professor at the
University of Chicago Law School. His book, Code, and Other Laws of
Cyberspace, is published by Basic Books. In 1999-2000, he was a
fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin."
"O'Reilly: The thing that struck me most in
your book was your point that when wiretapping first came before
the Supreme Court they said, "It's no problem," because the history
of invasion of privacy was based on the idea of somebody actually
coming into your premises. And it wasn't until 40 years later when
the telephone had become truly ubiquitous and part of everyone's
life that the Supreme Court revisited the issue and said "oops."
... I'm wondering about your thoughts on the rise of networking and
the ways that it is going to change the legal regimes that are
necessary in looking forward.
Lessig:There are two stages in Internet
history so far, which are important to distinguish. The first
stage climaxes around 1997, when the Supreme Court decided Reno v.
ACLU (the case striking down the Communications Decency Act).
...in the first stage of Internet history, the Supreme Court
was extremely respectful of the Internet and its potential, and
there was still a very strong commitment to the idea that we not
muck it up with regulations. But now, in the second stage of
Internet evolution, when it comes to copyright issues, that
attitude has disappeared. ..."
"O'Reilly: So what has caused the
Lessig: The cynic in me says the lawyers
defending Hollywood are better paid and they've got better suits. I
think the reality is that copyright law has for a very long time
been a tiny little part of American jurisprudence, far removed from
traditional First Amendment jurisprudence, and that made sense
before the Internet. Now there is an unavoidable link between First
Amendment interests and the scope of copyright law. ..."
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