Computer Science Illuminated, Third Edition

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Chapter 11: File Systems and Directories

Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig, Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society, has written extensively on how laws- particularly those relating to copyright and trademarks- should be applied to the Internet. His is a prominent voice in support of reduced legal restrictions, as Lessig believes that the overuse of copyright laws in the Internet arena will eventually stifle the amazing creative potential of this technology. Lessig asserts that all innovation is born from past achievements, rather than in a vacuum. For this reason, he argues, for a free society to progress, control of past achievements should be limited.

Lessig also argues that computers, by their very nature, have extended the concept of a copyright: Copyright law regulates copies, and copies are ubiquitous in the digital domain. Actions that were unregulated in relation to to entities such as books (for example, annotating the margins) became regulated when they involve the digitized equivalent (such as e-books) because they involve changing the underlying code, which is protected copyright.

In 2001, Lessig founded the non profit organization Creative Commons as a way of expanding the range of creative work legally available for others to use and share. He is also on the board of directors of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy and legal organization dedicated to to upholding civil liberties and, in particular, preserving free speech, as protected by the First Amendment, in a digital context.

Lessig recently joined the advisory board of Digital Universe, a system of noncommercial portals offering a wide variety of resources. He is the author of Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, and Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity.

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