Cyberlaw – Evolution, Revolution or Retrofit?

In Cyberspace and the Law of the Horse, Chicago-area appeals judge, Frank Easterbrook mocks the idea that there can be such a thing as “Property in Cyberspace” or cyber-law in general, which he compares to the law of the horse.As Easterbrook explains, there is all kinds of law involving horses: racing commissions regulations, contracts over stud fees and veterinary malpractice, yet nobody claims to be a “horse lawyer,” Similarly, as Professor Lawrence Lessig explains, Easterbrook’s view is that the law of cyberspace is nothing more than “torts in cyberspace, contracts in cyberspace, property in cyberspace, etc.” There is no “cyberlaw” any more than there is horse law. Lessig disagrees, explaining “there is an important general point that comes from thinking in particular about how law and cyberspace connect;” specifically, “the limits on law as a regulator” and the “techniques for escaping those limits.”Lessig claims cyberlaw is valuable because all law can draw from its lessons. In this article I will, using the “commodification of music” as a case study, argue Lessig is correct. And whether we can learn from these lessons is one of the central legal, cultural and policy questions facing the Internet, and society, today.