From offshore data havens to cryptocurrencies, techo-libertarians have tried repeatedly to create online spaces where no earthly government can reach them.  But without offline law to order their affairs, these communities have had to build their own institutions to resolve disputes and make governance decisions, a challenge very few of them have been up to. Law has had millennia to develop workable rules and procedures; people trying to code their way out from under it neglect its insights at their peril. I will describe a series of case studies in the internal "law" of these spaces, including Sealand, Usenet, Reddit, Wikipedia, Second Life, and the Bitcoin blockchain.

James Grimmelmann is a professor of law at Cornell Tech and Cornell Law School. He studies how laws regulating software affect freedom, wealth, and power. He helps lawyers and technologists understand each other, applying ideas from computer science to problems in law and vice versa. He is the author of the casebook Internet Law: Cases and Problems and of over forty scholarly articles and essays on digital copyright, search engine regulation, privacy on social networks, online governance, and other topics in computer and Internet law. He teaches courses in property, intellectual property, and Internet law.

He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and an A.B. in computer science from Harvard College. Before law school, he was a programmer for Microsoft; after graduation he clerked for Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. He is an affiliated fellow of the Yale Information Society Project. He previously taught at New York Law School, Georgetown, and the University of Maryland.