James Boyle is William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School, in Durham, North Carolina. He's also one of the major figures– along with Larry Lessig, Dan Hunter, and a few others– exploring the intersection of cyberspace and the law.

For me, this literature is especially interesting for the ways it's mapped how the argument that cyberspace is a place was mobilized against attempts to regulate online activity, but more recently has become a justification for extending copyright and intellectual property rights– and indeed, creating interpretations of those laws that are even more restrictive than apply in the physical world– into the digital realm. More than any other group, this crew has documented how cyberspace has become a "metaphor we live by"– and legislate by.

His answer to the big question works through a couple possibilities:

The Matrix, the metaverse, the right click universe? The answer, I think, is a boring one.


We won't have a word for it precisely because it will be pervasive, and we won't have novel, technologically accurate words even for its component experiences, because language does not work that way (thank goodness).

We will talk about getting online long after the lines have disappeared, and e-mailing long after most people have forgotten mail was ever sent another way.

So if cyberspace goes away, what happens to cyberlaw? That's the next thing I want to know.

Earlier suggestions:

Kris Pister: UberDustenWissenshaftsVergnugen

Luke Hughes: Reality Online

David Sifry: Cyberspace

Andy Clark: Interactatron

John Seely Brown: The Infomated World

Ross Mayfield: On and Catalink

…plus many others in the Wired article

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