Odyssey Online

Summer Blogging, Creative Commons

June 22, 2010 · No Comments

…last time we pointed to the work of Lawrence Lessig.  While Lessig’s work is not hard to Google-‘n-get, but we’d like to draw attention to a text by Lessig that is a little off the beaten path, and is titled Code and the Commons. It was originally a speech given at Fordham University on February 9th, 1999, and what is so interesting about the speech is how he demonstrates that html was the dynamic that drew the concept of the commons, and intellectual property together into what become the CC.  This narrative from the talk illustrates the convergence (it’s a little long (by blog post standards)):

The idea of Lex Informatica, or code, is this: That what makes
cyberspace so different is that it is constituted by these laws of
nature that we write. What defines the experience that cyberspace
is is a set of instructions written into code that we, or more
precisely, code writers, have authored. This code sets the rules of
this space; it regulates behavior in this space; it determines what’s
possible here, and what’s not possible. And as we look to this code
maturing, Reidenberg rightly saw that this code would become its
own type of law. That we could define life in cyberspace as we
wanted — with privacy, or without; with anonymity or without;
with universal access, or without; with the freedom to speak and
publish, or without — and then write what we wanted into the
code. The code would then regulate life there. And that regulation
through code Reidenberg called Lex Informatica.
It’s almost four years since Reidenberg first started talking
about this form of law, and we are just on the cusp of a time when
others can begin to get the point he saw then. For as the code of
cyberspace is maturing, we are beginning to see just how radically
different the world can be. And we are beginning to see how
important it will be for us to take a hand in this construction.

An early work by Lessig (he even uses the term cyberspace), but an important one I think in understanding the way the Internet is a foundation to concept of the CC, and how the concept of the CC might be an enduring legacy of the Internet.

Categories: Creative Commons · Essay on Technology

St. Lawrence University