Sunday, August 03, 2008

The End of William Patry's Blog

Yesterday was a dark day for copyright law, and even bigger issues such as the ability of passionate and informed scholars to use the blogosphere to publish views that some powerful forces may consider to be threatening to their interests. Here's Bill's last post.

Whatever else this means, it is a great loss for those who care about sound, sustainable and balanced copyright law and wish to see it evolve in a well-informed manner and as part of a healthy debate. Here' what I posted on his final blog entry:


Yours was clearly the leading American and international copyright blog by any measure. Unfortunately, these are not easy times in which to be scholarly, frank and to hold even perfectly reasonable views. You are indeed a “centrist.” You have defended the real purpose of copyright throughout your career. Above all, you have had the courage to hold views, which is an indispensable but increasingly rare quality in the world of scholarship and jurisprudence. It’s no wonder you have an affinity to Judge Posner and former Justice Sir Hugh Laddie.

Many have watched your personal views evolve over the years and agreed with them, or disagreed with them, as the case may be. That is healthy. Your views have always been well informed and impeccably researched. As I said in my review of your treatise, “Mr. Patry's evolution is an important indicator of where copyright law may be going.”

However, there are indeed some very powerful forces who view anyone who holds views critical of their own on such issues as the DMCA or ACTA as an “enemy of the people.” Add to this the results of “public choice” politics and economics and one can understand both your pessimism and your pragmatism.

This cannot have been an easy decision for you. You have clearly invested thousands of hours in this blog in its three splendid years. You should be very proud of it.

Since your critics and those who may try to embarrass you have no doubt already saved whatever nuggets they may attempt with futility to use against you, I hope that you will consider leaving the blog up as an invaluable research archive of these times and as an shining star for those who might take up the torch in the future.

Bravo, Bill.


Howard Knopf


1 comment:

  1. I'll note that despite being a copyright abolitionist I'd like to engage in argument with William Patry, and so would be the first to encourage him to continue blogging.

    William ceased publishing my comments several months ago, not because of their content, but because I was their author (having unpublished my anonymous comments and his replies once I revealed my authorship).

    One cannot 'win' arguments by causing someone embarrassment. Similarly, one cannot 'win' arguments by declining to publish the comments of those who would argue against.

    I am not a critic of William Patry (except in his decision not to publish my comments), but I am a critic of copyright.

    I can only conclude that the greatest forces against his blog, and the greatest critics of William Patry, were not those against copyright, but those enjoying and in favour of its ever more draconian reinforcement. These maximalists are the ones who stand to lose most from his centrist admonishments - through the consequently more informed decisions of the judiciary that might heed them.

    Anyway, this is academic. Ceasing to blog is but a blip in the big scheme of things.

    In leaving the table William Patry may have left a game, but I don't think he's stopped playing poker.

    He'll be back. ;-)