I’m delighted to say that Bill Patry will be guest-blogging this coming week about his new book, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars. I’ve known Bill for 15 years, from the time that he was copyright counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary. He has also been a Policy Planning Advisor to the Register of Copyrights, a full-time professor at the Cardozo School of Law, and a practicing copyright lawyer; and now he is Senior Copyright counsel at Google Inc. (though he takes great pains to note that the book represents his personal views, and not those of his employer). He is also the author of an 8-volume, 6500-page treatise, Patry on Copyright (Thomson/West), a separate treatise on fair use (also West), a prior one-volume treatise on copyright that went through two editions (BNA Books), and many law review articles. Here’s his summary of the Moral Panics book:
The way we have come to talk about copyright is harmful to the way we think about copyright, harm that has led to bad business and bad policy decisions. As George Orwell wrote, “if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” In place of reasoned analysis, too often we encounter emotionally laden appeals using ancient, rhetorical devices designed to demonize opponents and to create the impression there is an existential threat to society. Unless we recognize that the debates over copyright constitute an economic debate about business models, we will never be able to make the correct business and policy decisions. The book also seeks to explain why the copyright industries have so often failed to respond to — or have even fought against — consumer demand, by using the creative destruction theories of Joseph Schumpeter and the marketing theories of Theodore Levitt.
He also has a blog about his book, in which he has debated Ben Sheffner of Copyrights & Campaigns, a former Fox studios lawyer who represented John McCain in the 2008 race; that too is much worth reading, if you’re at all interested in copyright policy.