Re: Software and the First Amendment

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From: Lucas Gonze ((no)
Date: Mon Jul 31 2000 - 08:28:26 PDT

How about posting a message giving enough details on how to write a
run-on-receipt virus that any coder can do the actual writing? Something
like "To write a run-on-receipt virus, do ..." Imminent incitement? At
some level of detail you are publishing a program in everything but name.

- Lucas

> I might be willing to distinguish
between running the program
and > publishing it, but I'd say the publishing (excepting the automatic
> run-on-receipt macro viruses and worms) is not imminent incitement.
> --Wendy
> >Sure seems to me like code is speech, but there's a key difference: code
> >is *action*, or more precisely, code creates action in machine-agents
> >which we do not hold morally culpable. So, it's okay if I tell someone on
> >my staff, "you know, we should just have that vendor taken out back and
> >shot." I say it frequently, in fact. But no harm is done, because 1)
> >whoever I'm talking to is always savvy enough to understand that I'm
> >KIDDING, and 2) even if I were serious, nobody would actually get shot
> >because nobody I'm talking to is willing to take my instruction in the
> >face of the various social constraints against vendor-icide. (In fact, I
> >usually get ignored no matter how mild the suggestion. :-) )
> >
> >But computers generally aren't savvy enough enough to know when the
> >software engineer is kidding ("You can't *seriously* mean wipe out this
> >whole hard drive without notifying the user, right?") and computers aren't
> >culpable for their action; I can't put in jail for
> >sending me the ILoveYou virus. Wouldn't mean anything to me or to the
> >agglomeration of HW and SW known as So when you
> >write code, you're not really describing action to other, morally culpable
> >agents, you're actually acting. The computer is just a long, strong arm.
> >
> >IANAL, but I play one on the Net,
> >--A.
> Wendy Seltzer --
> Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

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