Sunday, August 10, 2008

Top Copyright Lawyer on the Depressing State of Copyright Law

William Patry is one of the country's leading intellectual property lawyers, author of a seven-volume treatise on copyright law, and now senior copyright counsel for Google. Until recently, Patry also maintained a highly-regarded personal blog about copyright. On August 1st, however, Patry announced that he was bringing his blog to an end.

Patry cites two major reasons for the move. The first is personal. Patry is concerned that many people, including some in the press, continue to cite the blog in the context of his work at Google, despite his repeated insistence that it is a personal blog in no way affiliated with Google. In addition, he's tired of dealing with the inevitable crazies who pop out of the woodwork when you maintain such a public presence.

Patry's other reason for ending the blog?

The Current State of Copyright Law is too depressing.

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 Humpty-Dumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately.