Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace

By Lawrence Lessig | Go to book overview

APPENDIX

In chapter 7, I sketched briefly an argument for how the four modalities I described constrain differently. In this appendix, I want to extend that argument. My hope is to provide a richer sense of how these modalities—law, the market, norms, and architecture—interact as they regulate. Such an understanding is useful, but not necessary, to the argument of this book. I've therefore put it here, for those with an interest, and too much time. Elsewhere I have called this approach "the New Chicago School:” 1

Law is a command backed up by the threat of a sanction. It commands you not to commit murder and threatens a severe penalty if you do so anyway. Or it commands you not to trade in cocaine and threatens barbaric punishments if you do. In both cases, the picture of law is fairly simple and straightforward: don't do this, or else.

Obviously law is much more than a set of commands and threats. 2 Law not only commands certain behaviors but expresses the values of a community (when, for example, it sets aside a day to celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.); 3 constitutes or regulates structures of government (when the Constitution, for example, establishes in Article I a House of Representatives distinct from a Senate); and establishes rights that individuals can invoke against their own government (the Bill of Rights). All these are examples of law; by focusing on just one kind of law, I do not mean to diminish the significance of these other kinds. Still, this particular aspect of law provides a well-defined constraint on individuals within the jurisdiction of the law giver, or sovereign. That constraint—objectively—is the threat of punishment.

Social norms constrain differently. By social norms, I mean those normative constraints imposed not through the organized or centralized actions of a state, but through the many slight and sometimes forceful sanctions that members of a community impose on each other. I am not talking about patterns of behavior: it may be that most people drive to work between 7:00 and 8:00 A.M., but this is not a norm. A norm governs socially salient behavior, deviation from which makes you socially abnormal. 4

Life is filled with, constituted by, and defined in relation to such norms—some of which are valuable, and many of which are not. It is a norm (and a good one) to thank others for service. Not thanking someone makes you "rude," and being rude opens you up to a range of social sanctions, from ostracism to criticism. It is a norm to speak cautiously to a seatmate on an airplane, or to stay to the right while driving slowly. Norms discourage men from wearing dresses to work and encourage all of us to bathe regularly. Ordinary life is filled with such commands about how we are to behave. For the ordinarily socialized person, these commands constitute a significant portion of the constraints on individual behavior.

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Code: And Other Laws of Cyberspace
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • Part One - Regulability *
  • One Code Is Law *
  • Two - Four Puzzles from Cyberspace *
  • Three - Is - I S M *
  • Four - Architectures of Control *
  • Five - Regulating Code *
  • Part Two - Code and Other Regulators *
  • Six - Cyberspaces *
  • Seven - What Things Regulate *
  • Eight - The Limits in Open Code *
  • Part Three - Applications *
  • Nine - Translation *
  • Ten - Intellectual Property *
  • Eleven - Privacy *
  • Twelve - Free Speech *
  • Thirteen - Interlude *
  • Fourteen - Sovereignty *
  • Part Four - Responses *
  • Fifteen - The Problems We Face *
  • Sixteen - Responses *
  • Seventeen - What Declan Doesn't Get *
  • Appendix *
  • Notes *
  • Index *
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