Patterico's Pontifications


An Expert Copyright Lawyer Tells It Like It Is

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Civil Liberties — Justin Levine @ 10:14 pm

[posted by Justin Levine – and definitely not Patterico]

William Patry hangs it up (his blog that is, not his practice of law).

A key reason (in his own words) –

The Current State of Copyright Law is too depressing

This leads me to my final reason for closing the blog which is independent of the first reason: my fear that the blog was becoming too negative in tone. I regard myself as a centrist. I believe very much that in proper doses copyright is essential for certain classes of works, especially commercial movies, commercial sound recordings, and commercial books, the core copyright industries. I accept that the level of proper doses will vary from person to person and that my recommended dose may be lower (or higher) than others. But in my view, and that of my cherished brother Sir Hugh Laddie, we are well past the healthy dose stage and into the serious illness stage. Much like the U.S. economy, things are getting worse, not better. Copyright law has abandoned its reason for being: to encourage learning and the creation of new works. Instead, its principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to suppress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners. Like HumptyDumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately.

It is profoundly depressing, after 26 years full-time in a field I love, to be a constant voice of dissent.

Read the whole thing.

More analysis of the annoucement over at (where I also guest blog at on occasion).

As a former copyright counsel to the House of Representatives, and participant in the 1988 Berne Convention, Patry is not etirely blameless here in terms of how the current state of the law developed. But with that said, there is no disputing the profound truths that he has now come to admit and realize.  I don’t know if his current views are merely a cynical product of lawyerly convenience stemming from his employment with Google, or if he had a genuine epiphany that happened to coincide with his relationwhip with Google. The passion of his post leads me to suspect that latter. Regardless, its good to hear him speak out the way his now so doing.

He is especially correct when he observes, “Like HumptyDumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately.” That is why I have reluctantly rejected the centrism that Patry still desperately tries to embrace in this debate. I actually sympathize with it to an extent, but the world copyright cartel has metastasized in such a way that it makes reasonable compromise all but impossible.

I suppose that the participants of the Boston Tea Party were law breakers whose actions were condemned in many quarters at the time. I see the file-sharing community in the same light and hope they can help lay the groundwork for a much needed revolution.

Mr. Patry, the revolution to secure the freedom of information needs more Generals. I hope that your views can continue to evolve in such a way that you will someday be willing to enlist.  

– Justin Levine

One Response to “An Expert Copyright Lawyer Tells It Like It Is”

  1. […] at Patterico’s, Justin Levine writes in An Expert Copyright Lawyer Tells It Like It Is.  Unfortunately, comments on that post are closed, but perhaps this is why – I suppose that the […]

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